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Fire doors propped open

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Fire Doors being propped open

A lot of businesses and residential apartment blocks are propping fire doors open right now; in fact, the government has advised businesses to do this to reduce the number of contact surfaces that could transmit COVID-19; but what about fire safety?

Why are fire doors important?

Fire doors could be the difference between life and death in the event of a fire.  They are designed to prevent the passage of heat and smoke and protect areas, especially evacuation routes so that people can evacuate a building safely.  The picture here shows a fire door leading directly on to a staircase, which leads to other floors of the building; if this staircase was filled with smoke it would be impossible for anyone to evacuate via the staircase, further more the smoke would spread to all of the other floor.  Luckily in this case they appear to have a sprinkler system, but not all business or residences do.

Keeping the doors open safely

There are solutions on the market to hold fire doors open and ensure they close in the event of an emergency.

  1. Electromagnetic door closers- these hold-open devices are normally connected to the fire alarm system, so that when the alarm activates it releases the electromagnetic door holders and the door closes.
  2. Dorguards, these are fixed to the bottom of the fire door and are operated by sound – some fire specialists support them and some don’t.

The challenge with both is they need to be regularly inspected to check they are fully working, and that the batteries work in the dorgards, and then you are back to square one with a breach in the fire protection.

A fire risk assessment will probably mention that the fire doors are open because of COVID precautions, but it won’t excuse it and the risk rating will reflect the risk.  Some of the factors that will increase the risk are fire doors protecting upper floors, one-way escape routes, sleeping occupants and people that are classed as vulnerable.

Things are changing all the time, and if you are in doubt about what you should do about the fire doors in your business then please get in touch.

Talk to a specialist

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