Fire Door Safety Week highlights the critical role that fire doors play in saving lives

An insight piece by Andrew Dack, Group Sales Director, PTSG

This week (31st October – 4th November) is Fire Door Safety Week – an initiative with the aim of stamping out the legacy of fire door neglect. The latest research from the British Woodworking Federation, supported by the BWF Fire Door Alliance (the founders of Fire Door Safety Week), found that a third of the British public would not report a problem with a fire door. A perceived lack of personal repercussions is one of the main reasons for not reporting a problem. This is a shocking statistic and makes the work of our specialists all the more important.

PTSG are LPCB, BM TRADA and Firas certified experts who specialise in the inspection and remediation of internal timber doors and front entrance door-sets. Our technicians provide vital assurance for the responsible persons that every aspect of their building’s fire doors are functioning in accordance with fire regulations – to protect lives and properties.

The issues around fire door safety don’t just exist in high rise, high risk buildings. They are prevalent in virtually every sector and building type, from care homes and hospitals to schools and specialist housing. Our specialists work in all these sectors.

New Fire Safety Regulations

The assurance that fire doors are fully functioning in residential buildings forms a significant part of the new fire safety regulations. The government has introduced the recent updates under article 24 of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (Fire Safety Order), which incorporates the majority of recommendations made by the Grenfell Tower Inquiry Phase 1 report and these will become law on 23rd January 2023.

FMs and service providers need to appreciate that the Fire Safety Order applies to all premises, including workplaces and the common parts of all multi-occupied residential buildings, for example, and PTSG finds that a growing number of enquiries for its services are resulting from the new regulations.

Further information on all aspects of the fire safety regulations is available on the website and from the experts at PTSG Fire Solutions, who can give guidance for FMs and service providers to allow preparations to be implemented prior to the various requirements becoming legally-required actions.

One of the requirements for responsible persons managing high-rise blocks of flats is to provide information to Fire and Rescue Services to assist them to plan and, if needed provide an effective operational response. Additional safety measures will also need to be provided in residential buildings with multiple occupants and buildings of 11m or more in height.

These will need to be appreciated by FMs and service providers tasked with the management of relevant facilities, which may include mixed-use developments.

All residents will need to be supplied with fire safety instructions and information on the importance of fire doors and all aspects of the new legislation can be explained by the experts within PTSG Fire Solutions Ltd.

In high-rise buildings, responsible persons will be required to demonstrate the completion of:

  • Building Plans: providing local Fire and Rescue Service with up-to-date electronic building floor plans with a hard copy of plans, alongside a single-page building plan which identifies key firefighting equipment stored in a secure information box on site.
  • External Wall Systems: provide local Fire and Rescue Service information about the design and materials of a high-rise building’s external wall system and inform the Fire and Rescue Service of any material changes. Also providing information on the level of risk that the design and materials of the external wall structure includes and mitigating steps taken.
  • Lifts and other Key Fire-Fighting Equipment: undertake monthly checks on the operation of lifts intended for use by firefighters and evacuation lifts and check the functionality of other key pieces of firefighting equipment. Any defective lifts or equipment should be reported to local Fire and Rescue Services and, if the fault cannot be fixed within 24 hours, to record the outcome and make details available to residents.
  • Information Boxes: install and maintain a secure information box in the building, including contact details of the responsible person and hard copies of the building floor plans.
  • Wayfaring Signage: installation of signage visible in low light or smoky conditions that identify flat and floor numbers in the stairwells of relevant buildings.

It should be noted that the changes in legislation have resulted from inquiry into the Grenfell Tower tragedy, launched by the government in August 2017. The inquiry published its first-phase report in October 2019, with the majority of recommendations accepted by the government.

The Home Office launched the Fire Safety Consultation in 2020 and Section 2 of the Fire Safety Consultation outlined the intention to lay regulations under article 24 of the Fire Safety Order. The consultation also included proposals to implement the recommendations in a practical way.

The Fire Safety Act 2021 clarifies that the Fire Safety Order applies to a building’s structure, external walls and any common parts of premises including all flat entrance doors for buildings containing two or more sets  of domestic premises. The regulations sit alongside the Building Safety Act amendments to the Fire Safety Order, with all actions intended to improve fire safety outcomes and to protect the public from the risk of fire by better supporting compliance and effective enforcement in all regulated properties.

Whilst responsible persons are encouraged to work towards compliance, they have been requested not to begin submitting electronic information to local Fire and Rescue Services until closer to the date of commencement.

The Inquiry recommendations referred mostly to high-rise buildings of 18m or seven storeys in height. This measure has been commonly used to define a high-rise building in England and complement Building Standards legislation, for example, which becomes more restrictive at this height and includes different fire-fighting tactics.

Limiting those parts of the regulations which require responsible persons to share information about their building electronically to Fire and Rescue Services ensures that the correct information is available to assist them to deal more effectively with the most complex fires.

The government has completed a full-impact assessment, which states that any costs that arise from these regulations should result from the new activity to improve a building’s overall fire safety and from purchasing new items, including an information box or signage for the building.

PTSG Fire Solutions Ltd further explains that the information above is not exhaustive and there are more details and implications that need to be appreciated and considered to ensure that each facility complies with all aspects of the new legislation where relevant.

The company is able to provide advice and guidance for all areas of the new legislation to ensure the safety of occupants, while also helping to protect responsible persons against the potential negative outcomes in the event of a fire occurring in their facility.

FMs and service providers requiring more information or guidance on the new regulations are invited to contact PTSG Fire Solutions Ltd, especially for the services listed below.

  • Fire-rated door installation
  • Fire door maintenance
  • Fire-rated glazing solutions
  • Fire compliance surveys
  • Fire stopping
  • Fire compartmentation
  • Fire curtains and cavity barriers
  • Dry and wet risers
  • Fire detection and life safety systems
  • Fire services support and maintenance
  • Security systems
  • Sprinkler systems
  • Sprinkler pump room maintenance
  • Passive fire services
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