Attention to fire doors

Patrick Dean of fire door manufacturer Door-Stop highlights the key points landlords need to consider when choosing fire doors for a rental property.

Fire doors are an essential element in the passive fire protection of buildings. Put into context, people living in rented or shared accommodation are seven times more likely to have a fire, according to government statistics. Therefore, it is vital that reliable and certified fire doors are fitted throughout a building.

Fire safety within the home is an extremely important issue, especially in mixed-use premises and where unrelated occupiers, who live independently from one another, share common areas of the same building.

However, despite the amount of guidance available to building owners, there still seems to be a real lack of awareness when it comes to fire precaution and safety measures for those specifying building materials. Fire doors can provide an effective line of defence against the spread of fire; they are engineered safety devices that are a crucial part of the passive fire protection of every commercial, public and multiple occupancy building. They can save lives and property, and should therefore demand the appropriate consideration when specifying for any application.

Know the law

When it comes to specifying a fire door, there are three laws that should be followed: Building Regulations Part B, the Housing Act 2004, and the Regulatory Reform Fire Safety Order 2005. The Housing Act 2004 introduced a health and safety rating system that encompasses fire safety in housing – which includes making sure that fire doors with adequate fire and smoke resistance are installed and maintained in order to comply with the latest fire regulations.

Whenever there is a fire incident in a block of flats or a commercial building, there is always a ‘responsible person’. In the Regulatory Reform, Fire Safety Order the responsible person is an employee in the workplace (if the workplace is to any extent under his control), a person who has control of the premises (as occupier or otherwise) or the owner.

Similarly, the person responsible for fire safety provision and maintenance of residential accommodation is usually the landlord, or alternatively in HMOs, the building manager. It is important to understand that the person responsible for an incident could receive a two-year prison sentence or a substantial fine. Approved Document B of the Building Regulations sets out the law regarding fire safety in buildings, with Volume 1 covering residential properties and Volume 2 encompassing all other buildings.

Compliance checklist

In addition to the legal obligations, there are three elements that should be considered when it comes to actually choosing a fire door. However, by liaising with a reputable fire door supplier, you are guaranteed to receive a door set that has been fully tested and third-party certified.

The first step is to ensure that the chosen door has been tested to the exact specification that is being supplied. In fact, it is vital that the test evidence is checked and understood, in order to confirm that the door being installed is compliant. Doors must be tested to BS 476 Part 22 and BSEN 1634-3.

Secondly, all of the components that make up the door set should also have been tested. It is crucial that the door is supplied with the right hinges, locks and handles for the job – and that they are CE-marked and compatible with other products being specified. Indeed, incorrect hinges may cause a door to drop over time and thereby fail to provide the required protection from fire.

Lastly, the fire door must be manufactured exactly to the standard as tested. This should not be compromised; the door being offered should have been tested with an independent smoke test. It is recommended that a FD30s (fire and smoke tested for up to 30 minutes) door set is specified with third party certification for fire compliance. A fire door with third-party certification ensures that the door being offered is exactly as specified and within the approved design scope. It also means that independent experts have monitored all aspects of its manufacture.

Additionally, each door is individually registered and an audit trail is available for the client and any independent fire inspector. What’s more, choosing to install a third-party certified fire door will reduce the risk of prosecution.

There really is no need to risk not having a fully effective and certified fire door installed to a multi-occupancy building, so when it comes to fire safety it is of utmost importance that you consult with a reputable fire door supplier for guidance and advice.

Patrick Dean is head of sales and marketing at Door-Stop