Each year, the Fire and Rescue Service (FRS) attend over 750 fires in flats or maisonettes. The Grenfell Tower Inquiry found that one of the reasons that fires in flats are disproportionately dangerous is due to damage, disrepair, or inadequate fire doors. Calling for urgent inspections, the government quickly issued new regulations. Here’s a quick guide to compliance in 2022.
What Are Fire Doors?
Fire doors are specially designed to stall and contain a fire. Most fire doors use intumescent sealants, which is a type of putty that swells when heated. If fitted correctly, the seal forms a complete barrier to the oxygen that feeds the fire, as well as blocking the flow of deadly smoke and gases. The quality of the intumescent, design of the door, and standards of installation all influence fire door effectiveness.
What Is The Minimum Requirement For Flats And Houses Of Multiple Occupation (HMOs)?
The minimum fire door requirement for flats and houses of multiple occupation (HMOs) focuses on the entrance to the communal area. Any entrance to a communal space must be protected by a fire door that can withstand smoke, heat, and flames for 30 minutes (FD30). Consequently, some communal areas will require more than one fire door.
What Are The Rules For Flats Above 4.5m?
Tenants cannot safely escape from heights above 4.5m, creating a risk in any building over one storey tall. As such, every habitable room above 4.5m (14.7ft) must be fitted with a fire rated door. The front door of each flat also requires a fire door, ideally offering 60 minutes (FD60 protection).
What Are The Rules For Flats In Buildings Above 18m?
As was seen with Grenfell Tower, tall buildings can act as dangerous chimneys, so fire doors need to be carefully planned throughout. Current guidance states that fire doors need to be installed from the basement upwards and must offer a minimum of 60 minutes (FD60) protection. Ideally, all habitable rooms should be protected, and entrances to all communal areas must be covered.
What Are The Standards For Fire Doors?
Regulations are reviewed following any major incident, which is why companies such as Mila Maintenance use independent accreditation from internationally recognised BM Trada to guarantee compliance. Current advice indicates that:
- Doors must have a self-closing mechanism
- Hinges, letter boxes, and handles must be fire safe
- Glazed windows must be fire safe
- Doors must be correctly positioned
The aim of this guidance is to ensure that the door is in the correct position, and that there are no weaknesses that could cause the door to fail. Fire doors tend to fail when they have been badly installed, when the intumescent seals are inadequate, or when their hinges or handles are not up to standard, which is why having BM Trada certified specialists to carry out the work is important for ensuring compliance.
There’s no one-size-fits-all risk assessment when it comes to fire safety. Buildings have unique quirks, and many have hidden hazards. To make sure that your property is safe, get in touch with Mila Maintenance today.
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