Fire doors play a vital role in protecting people and a property when a blaze occurs. Designed to withstand intense smoke and heat for a minimum of 30 minutes (or more, depending on the door’s FD rating), they allow occupants to escape unharmed and restrict the spread of the fire while emergency services mount a response.
The Grenfell Tower fire of 2017 highlighted how poorly fitted or substandard fire doors directly contribute to the spread of a fire, with devastating effects. As a result, fire safety regulations in the UK are changing and all social housing premises managers and fire safety managers will need to ensure that their building’s fire doors comply with the new legislation.
In this guide, we outline the new fire safety legislation and explain what steps you should take to ensure that your social housing fire doors comply fully with regulations.
Why Are Fire Safety Regulations Changing?
In June 2017, a fire broke out in the kitchen of an apartment in Grenfell Tower in West London. What could have remained an isolated incident quickly became a raging inferno that engulfed the entire building, with 72 residents losing their lives and 70 suffering injuries.
At the public enquiry into the causes of the fire and the emergency service response, Grenfell Tower’s fire doors came under scrutiny. The inquiry stated that, ‘Fire doors play an essential role in preventing or inhibiting the spread of smoke and toxic gases, and in preserving the effective compartmentation of buildings’.
However, it was determined that the fire doors in Grenfell Tower did not perform in the way that they should have:
• Many newly fitted fire doors had missing self-closing mechanisms, so were left open on the night of the fire. This allowed toxic smoke to spread rapidly into stairwells and other escape routes.
• The fire doors did not meet the minimum legal standard of 30 minutes’ fire resistance, even though they had undergone tests prior to being sold.
The inquiry made specific recommendations regarding the fire doors in residential buildings that contain separate dwellings:
• All Premises Managers should urgently inspect their fire doors to ensure they comply with current fire safety legislation and regulations.
• Checks should be carried out regularly to ensure that fire doors have an effective and operational self-closing mechanism.
• Where high-rise buildings have unsafe cladding on the exterior, entrance doors to each individual dwelling should comply with current safety standards. Where they do not, they should be immediately replaced.
The Fire Safety (England) Regulations 2022
The Fire Safety (England) Regulations 2022 are set to enter law on the 23rd January 2023 under article 24 of the Fire Safety Order (FSO) and apply to all relevant properties in England.
The Regulations aim to close several loopholes in the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, which applied only to non-domestic buildings:
• The new regulations apply to all multi-occupied residential buildings – properties that consist of multiple dwellings – irrespective of their height.
• Provisions include the structure of the building, including external walls and individual entrance doors to flats or apartments.
• Property owners are required to designate a Responsible Person to ensure that all necessary elements are included in their fire risk assessments unless they are already covered.
• The law enables Fire and Rescue Services to enforce penalties and mandatory improvements when non-compliance occurs.
While the Regulations apply to buildings of any height, there are additional provisions for buildings that exceed 11 metres in height.
What Do The Fire Safety Regulations Mean For You?
Compliance with the new Fire Safety Regulations is critical, whether you are a social housing property owner or buildings/facilities manager, or are tasked with responsibility for maintaining fire safety on your premises. Non-compliance is a serious matter: enforcement action could be taken against you and, should a fire lead to the injury or death of residents, prosecution is likely.
So, what are your responsibilities under the new regulations?
For Properties More Than 11 Metres In Height:
– Undertake an annual assessment of entrance fire doors to flats or apartments and quarterly checks of communal doors.
– Ensure that issues arising from these checks are addressed so that fire doors are fully operational and able to resist smoke, flames, and heat for the designated period (e.g. FD60= 60 minutes).
– It would be appropriate to engage a fire door installation and maintenance specialist to ensure that repairs or replacements adhere to current legislation.
– Provide information for residents regarding the safe and correct use of fire doors in the building.
– Keep fire doors closed at all times.
– Do not jam doors open with objects, such as fire extinguishers.
– Do not tamper with self-closing mechanisms.
– Report faults or damages urgently.
– Ensure new residents receive this information when they move into their property and update all residents annually with up-to-date guidance.
For Properties Less Than 11 Metres In Height:
In properties less than 11 metres in height, the new Regulations do not replace the Responsible Person’s existing responsibilities that were established by the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety Order) 2005.
The Fire Safety Order, which amalgamated over 70 individual laws on fire safety, requires the Responsible Person to:
– Carry out regular fire risk assessments to identify potential dangers.
– Identify residents who are at the greatest risk in a fire.
– Eliminate or minimise, as far as possible, risks of fire.
– Ensure fire protection equipment is operational and maintained appropriately.
– Provide appropriate training in the use of fire safety equipment.
– Create an emergency plan and ensure everyone understands their responsibilities.
– Documents all findings from risk assessments and equipment inspections/maintenance.
– Provide fire safety information for residents on fire doors.
What Are The Minimum Requirements When Inspecting Your Building’s Fire Doors?
Visual inspection of fire doors is essential to identify emerging problems, so that you can take prompt remedial action. The designated Responsible Person, or a trained Fire Safety Consultant acting on her or his behalf, should pay close attention to:
• Any alterations that have been made to the door’s glazing apertures or air transfer grille.
• Gaps around the door frame.
• Seals and hinges that are incorrectly fitted, resulting in gaps in the fitment
of the door.
• The self-closing mechanism to ensure that it operates correctly and allows the door to close tightly.
• The door’s fit within the frame when closed, to ensure that it closes snugly.
• Visible wear and tear or accidental/deliberate damage to any part of the door, door furniture, or the self-closing mechanism.
What Detailed Signs Should You Look for When Inspecting Fire Doors?
In addition to visually assessing your building’s fire doors, there are additional detailed checks you should make on a regular basis to ensure compliance:
All fire doors must have the manufacturer’s certification label, which is usually attached to the top edge of the door. This label will state:
▪ The name of the manufacture and their contact details.
▪ The unique Certifire certification number.
▪ The door’s fire rating.
Fire doors must be FD rated. A minimum FD30 rating means the door will offer protection for 30 minutes, with FD60, FD90, and FD120 ratings providing 60, 90, and 120 minutes of protection respectively. An expert fire consultant can help you to determine which rating is most suitable for your residential property so that residents are offered the best chance of a safe escape should a blaze break out.
Every fire door should also display a sticker that states: ‘Fire Door Keep Shut’.
Size Of Gaps
The gaps around each fire door, between the edge of the door and the doorframe, should be no more than 4mm, to prevent smoke from seeping through into communal areas, staircases, and escape routes.
Fire doors should be fitted with an intumescent seal, which expands when exposed to heat to form a smoke-tight seal around the door.
Hinges used with fire doors must be a minimum of 3mm and constructed from a heatresistant metal to avoid distortion or failure in a fire.
All fire doors must be fitted with a self-closing mechanism to ensure the door closes automatically after use. This prevents them from being accidentally left open. The door should close smoothly by itself from a halfway-open position and should not stick when closed.
Stay Ahead Of Fire Safety Legislation
With new fire safety legislation imminent, it’s vital that social housing Property Owners, Premises Managers, and Fire Safety Managers take active measures to guarantee their compliance with the law. At Mila Maintenance, we offer exceptional experience, knowledge, and attention to detail to help our customers comply with all relevant regulations. Our inspection service check’s doors have required certification, have been installed correctly and have not been damaged or altered since installation in a way that may affect their ability to resist any fire.
Contact Us Today
Contact Mila Maintenance at 0808 100 8881 or send us an email if you want to ensure your fire doors are compliant.