With energy prices becoming unaffordable for many social housing tenants, some are resorting to unconventional means to heat their homes. Since October 2022, Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service have attended at least 23 ‘cost-of-living fires’ that were started by homemade heaters, open fires, and electric blankets. According to research carried out by insurer Zurich, the number of fires caused by candles in domestic properties has reached a ten-year high, with more than one-half of incidents occurring during evenings or overnight.
This elevated fire risk highlights the importance of regular maintenance for all fire doors used in social housing, especially for doors deployed in multi-occupancy, high-rise buildings, in which a fire can easily spread between housing units.
Important Questions About Fire Doors In Social Housing
Fire doors play a vital role in social housing. A fire started by an unconventional heating method, such as an open fire or candle, has a greater capacity to spread quickly and uncontrollably, so it is essential that the blaze is effectively contained.
Do I Need Fire Doors Inside Each Housing Unit?
Fire safety doors in social housing flats are not an optional luxury but a legal requirement. Approved Document B and the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 stipulate that apartment buildings more than 4.5m in height require an FD30-rated fire door, or higher, between each flat and communal area (such as hallways). This is to protect escape routes in an emergency so that residents from other properties can evacuate safely.
Why Is Fire Door Maintenance Important?
Regular inspection and maintenance are essential to ensure that fire doors function correctly and to identify any emerging problems that could render them ineffective in a blaze.
For example, a faulty self-closing mechanism could result in a fire door remaining open in a fire, allowing smoke to spread rapidly throughout the building and risk the blaze spreading more quickly. This will impede evacuation routes, cause residents to experience breathing problems, and increase the risk of serious injury or death. Similarly, faulty, or non-compliant hinges could cause the fire door to warp, preventing it from closing fully.
Instead of these faults being detected after a devastating fire has swept through the building, it’s better for professional fire door installers to conduct regular fire door inspections. Fire doors in existing buildings should be inspected at least once every six months.
How Else Can Fires Be Prevented In Social Housing?
Education should also be a cornerstone of your fire prevention strategy, particularly at a time when tenants may be tempted to resort to unsafe measures to stay warm. Precautions, such as these, must be taken if resorting to other heating measures besides radiators or central heating:
- Portable heaters should be plugged into wall sockets instead of extension leads which are liable to overheat.
- When drying clothes, these should not be hung close to portable heaters or open fires, due to the risk that they will ignite.
- While pleasant, candles should always be extinguished when residents leave the room and should never be lit overnight. They should also be stood in a suitable non-flammable container well away from furnishings or walls.
Fires caused by tenants failing to follow these basic rules are on the increase, so ensuring that your building’s fire doors comply with safety regulations and are regularly serviced will help to contain a blaze should the unthinkable occur.
Contact Mila Maintenance For Professional Fire Door Advice
At Mila Maintenance, we install, inspect, and maintain fire doors for social housing. To find out more about our services, please call us today on 0808 100 8881 or send us an enquiry.
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