Fire safety in residential high rise buildings presents additional challenges due to the access requirements of these structures. High-rise residential buildings usually have a specific review and maintenance schedule that covers different aspects of fire safety, including fire doors.
In this article, we look at why keeping fire safety doors in full working condition is essential in housing association-managed high rises, and we offer some guidelines on how to include this in your fire safety inspection schedule.
Fire Safety In High Rise Buildings: What Are The Challenges?
One of the main problems in high rise buildings is that if a fire breaks out, it can quickly spread vertically and affect multiple floors, potentially trapping occupants in situ. If this happens, residents must be able to leave the building quickly and in an orderly fashion, including people living on the upper floors. Any malfunctions with a fire door can delay evacuation and be potentially fatal.
If fire spreads in a high rise, evacuation can be more difficult than in low rise buildings. In some cases, it may be necessary to adopt a Defend in Place approach, which means that any occupants who are unable to leave their floors – such as older residents and people with mobility difficulties – should shelter behind a fire door while awaiting rescue by fire safety personnel. It goes without saying that these doors only provide safety if they’re regularly maintained.
Fire Door Reviews And The Fire Safety Act
Among other things, the Fire Safety Act 2021 outlines the responsibilities of building owners and housing association managers with regards to preventative risk assessments.
According to the Act, owners or managers of multi-occupancy residential buildings (which includes high rises) must have a fire risk assessment schedule that as of 2021 must include all fire doors to individual flats.
In addition, the Building Safety Act was updated in February 2022 to include a definition for high-risk residential buildings, which are those 18 metres or 7-storeys high.
Some Important Things To Know About The Act Include:
– A ‘principal accountable person’ should be appointed irrespective of the building’s risk classification. They can be a third-party company (such as a facilities management or maintenance business) or an individual (e.g. a health and safety or fire safety manager) working for your organisation.
– The accountable person must do more than assess and manage fire risks. Under the updated Act, they are now required to take active steps to reduce and mitigate risks.
– There must be a building safety manager appointed in addition to the accountable person. The safety manager must be appointed on the basis of their skills, knowledge, and experience, which means they should be knowledgeable about current (2021+) fire door standards. They’re also expected to clearly communicate basic fire safety guidelines to residents (for example, why it’s important to keep fire doors shut).
– In high rises, the accountable person and the building manager must keep an updated digital record of details of refurbishment and maintenance work done to fire safety fixtures and appliances. With regards to fire doors, the record should specify the manufacturer’s and installation details, third-party certifications (such as CE/UKCA markings or FD fire ratings), and information about the doors and the ironmongery used.
Find Out More
At Mila Maintenance, we can help deliver comprehensive and timely maintenance for fire doors in high rise buildings. Get in touch with us today on 08081008881 and enjoy the peace of mind of working with a SafeContractor approved partner with several specialised accreditations.
Image source: Pixabay