The BWF Fire Door Alliance has recently published statistics following a survey of 1000 people responsible for fire door specification across the UK and found the following:
- 30% of those surveyed acknowledged they are still unsure or do not understand their responsibility under the Building Safety Act
- Almost one in ten (8%) do not know how the new legislation will affect how fire doors are specified
- Four in five respondents say end clients do not require third-party certified fire doors to be specified
So what’s changing?
The Fire Safety (England) Regulations 2022 will make it a legal requirement from 23 January 2023 for responsible persons for all multi-occupied residential buildings in England with storeys over 11 metres in height to do the following:
- Complete quarterly checks of all fire doors, including door-closing devices, in all common areas.
- Undertake, on a ‘best endeavour’ basis, an annual check of all flat/apartment entrance doors which lead into common areas. Access should be encouraged by responsible persons and evidence of engagement strategies should be kept.
- Provide all residents eligible for these checks information on the importance of fire doors, and the role they play in building and resident protection. This should be provided upon moving into the property and annually thereafter. Though it is not included in the current information, it would also be a good idea to include contact information to enable them to report any concerns. Keep reading for resources.
“Best endeavours” requires responsible persons to determine the most appropriate way to engage with residents based on their individual requirements to gain appropriate access to the property at a mutually convenient time to complete the annual fire door check.
“Multi-occupied residential buildings” mean any building with 2 or more domestic dwellings with common areas, such as corridors. Note that this is only required when buildings are over 11 meters in height.
Why are these changes being brought into effect?
The Grenfell Tower Inquiry Phase 1 report noted that “Fire doors play an essential role in preventing or inhibiting the spread of smoke and toxic gases and in preserving the effective compartmentation of buildings.”
The Inquiry noted that the fire doors in Grenfell Tower did not, through damage and/or disrepair, act in the way that they should so that they prevent smoke and gases from spreading.
The Inquiry made the following recommendations:
- The owner and manager of every residential building containing separate dwellings carry out an urgent inspection of all fire doors to ensure compliance with current legislative standards and that regular (no less than every three months) checks be carried out to ensure all fire doors are fitted with an effective self-closing device which is in working order.
- that all those who have responsibility for the condition of the entrance doors to individual flats in high-rise residential buildings (with unsafe cladding) be required by law to ensure these doors comply with current standards.
Prior to the Fire Safety Act 2021, flat entrance doors in multi-occupied residential buildings may not have been routinely considered as part of the fire risk assessment process. The Fire Safety Act 2021 has removed the legal ambiguity and confirms that flat entrance doors are in scope of the Fire Safety Order.
By providing information on the importance of fire doors to a building’s fire safety the government hope that this will help to deepen residents’ understanding of their role in keeping their building safe and encourage them to allow responsible persons access to check their flat entrance doors.
What does that mean for me?
To prepare for these changes, ask yourself and/or your organisation the following:
- Do you have the resources and technology in place to ensure that the checks happen on time, every time?
- Who will complete the checks?
- Is the nominated person(s) competent in checking the doors thoroughly and efficiently?
- How will you record your compliance?
The minimum requirement is that the responsible person performs the necessary checks themselves for any obvious damage or issues. They should consider:
- if there has been any alterations or damage to a door’s glazing apertures or air transfer grille
- if there are any gaps around the door frame and that seals and hinges are fitted correctly
- that the door closer shuts the door
- that the door closes correctly around the whole frame
- that there is no visible damage (either deliberate or from wear and tear) to the door or door closer
The British Woodworking Federation has a video on how fire doors should be checked here, there is also a Best Practise Guide which can be purchased for a small fee and includes all things fire doors here.
Have you advised residents? Visit FDSW-5-Step-Fire-Door-Check.pdf (firedoorsafetyweek.co.uk)
The BWF have put together a 5 Step Fire Door Check for you to share with residents. This gives them the opportunity to take steps to identify any obvious issues with their fire doors and to notify building managers. This doesn’t take the responsibility away from the housing provider to ensure that they’re correctly and regularly maintaining their fire doors in line with official regulations.
What about buildings under 11 meters?
The regulations do not replace the existing duty for a responsible person to put in place general fire precautions in any premises covered by the Fire Safety Order, regardless of the building’s height.
The Fire Safety Act 2021 has clarified that in any residential building which contains two or more sets of domestic premises are within the scope of the Fire Safety Order.
Responsible persons for residential buildings below 11 metres in height have a duty to put in place general fire precautions in these buildings, this duty includes making sure that all fire doors – including flat entrance doors – can provide adequate protection. The BWF advise using a third-party certified, competent, and reputable supplier of fire doors – there are many manufacturers that claim that their fire doors are fit for purpose but not all have a properly tested product that will protect from fire. It’s always worthwhile committing to a regular schedule where fire doors are checked.
Responsible persons will also be required to provide residents in all residential buildings with two or more sets of domestic premises with information on fire doors.
If you have any questions regarding fire door safety and your responsibilities, the following resources are a useful starting point:
BWF Fire Door Alliance | Third Party Certification of Fire Doors
Fact sheet: Fire doors (regulation 10) – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
If you would like assistance with your fire door maintenance schedule and asset register, get in touch with our team directly, we would be happy to help.