How Safe Are Your Fire Doors?

Fire Door

Although many may not notice them, fire doors are a fixture of day to day life. Whether in the workplace, educational buildings or even communal areas within residential buildings, fire doors are everywhere. The reason behind this is simple, they save lives. They help to contain fires within compartments and in doing so allow escape via unaffected areas. With such an important function, it is imperative that fire doors are installed correctly and regularly checked for faults. Here are just some of the ways in which you can ensure that your fire doors are fully functional and safe.

Who is responsible?

When it comes to fire protection, the ‘responsible person’ is usually the landlord, building owner or company manger. This person is responsible for ensuring that fire doors are installed and routinely checked.


Choosing a reputable company to install your fire doors is an important step. You should discuss your options with them prior to installation as there are different types of door to choose from. Customers can choose from FDKS and FDKL options which include doors which are designed to remain shut and those that are required to be locked at all times. Also, different doors provide fire protection for different durations of time. Commonly, this includes anywhere from 30 minutes up to 120 minutes.

The type of seals which are installed can also be different. Fire doors can contain fire protection seals, smoke protection seals or both.

Fire doors should be certified by the manufacturer. This is basically a promise from the manufacturer that the door has been made and installed to the specific standards laid out by the customer. Certification should be visible with a label on the door, explaining the protection level and overall fire performance.


Fire doors are only effective if they are functioning correctly and therefore should be inspected regularly. The responsible person can check their own fire doors for obvious faults but a complete inspection should be carried out by a certified fire door inspector. When looking for an inspector, make sure they hold a CertFDI qualification. As well as completing a full check of all of your fire doors, the inspector should provide you with a report of their findings.

It is recommended that fire doors are inspected every 6 months but this is dependent on the building in question. Some buildings such as workplaces and schools will require more frequent inspections due to the greater degree of traffic within these areas.


It may be necessary to install fire doors with glass panels, in order to combat lighting or visibility issues. If this is the case, a specialised fire-proof glass should be used in order to protect the integrity of the door. This type of glass can withstand fire up to 30 minutes thanks to a unique design which radiates a large proportion of the heat. It is possible to install glass panels which can withstand fire for longer but this can only work with smaller windows.


Upgrading standard doors into fire doors is not as popular as it once was but can be the only option in certain situations. If this is the case, only some types of doors are eligible and this should be kept in mind. For example, suitable doors need to be framed and contain a solid core and panels. The thickness of the door is also important, as well as the joints and fixings.

If you have any questions or worries about installing or maintaining a fire door, then please ask.

Your Responsibilities for the Provision of Evacuation Devices

Fire exit door

The safety and well-being of employees or visitors within an establishment is paramount. It is for this reason that there is a wealth of government legislation outlining the responsibilities which fall on the employer, service provider or building owner when it comes to this issue. These include all aspects of health and safety, from environmental conditions to emergency procedures. One aspect of the legislation which can sometimes be confusing concerns the evacuation of individuals with specialist needs.

The installation of evacuation devices cannot be enforced by any particular regulation but it can be necessary to the safeguarding of employees or service users. Paraphrasing the fire safety order of 2005, it says that if an employer does not make every effort to protect their disabled employees or service users, this could be seen as discrimination. Therefore, as evacuation devices are included in safeguarding of disabled employees, they are required in order to avoid a potentially discriminatory situation. Furthermore, the same order dictates that the ‘responsible person’ is required to offer a means of evacuation for individuals who have mobility issues or sensory impairments.

Evacuation devices describe any device which facilitates the movement of an individual from inside to outside of the building. Stairs can often pose a difficulty for those with mobility issues and therefore devices such as evacuation chairs or sledges can prove vital in exiting the building. Other products should also be considered, including evacuation straps, boards, stretchers and blankets. It is also important to note that some buildings will be below ground and individuals will need to climb stairs in order to escape. With this in mind, there are evacuation chairs available which can facilitate this.


Another responsibility of the employer/owner is to devise a Personal Emergency Evacuation Plan or PEEP. This should be created for every person who may need assistance when evacuating the building. The plan should include information on meeting points, equipment and the overall evacuating process. Depending on the specific circumstances, research may have to be carried out prior to creating the PEEP and if necessary, staff may have to be trained in proper protocol. For example, staff should be taught the correct way to use an evacuation chair.

Refuge Areas

Refuge areas are selected areas within the building in which disabled individuals can wait for evacuation. The responsible person should ensure that refuge areas meet a range of specific requirements. They have to be an enclosed area which can withstand fire for up to 30 minutes. Refuge areas also have to be large enough to accommodate a wheelchair and close to a fire exit. This may also be the best place to store any evacuation equipment in order to speed up the overall process.

Other Considerations

Up to now we have only discussed the evacuation of disabled individuals but other people should also be considered. The Fire Safety Order (2005) talks about providing adequate evacuation for people with mobility problems and this can include a variety of different types of individual. Other than disabled people, mobility problems can be caused by temporary conditions such as broken limbs. Factors such as pregnancy, heart and brain disorders can also effect movement and all of these should take into consideration.

If you have any questions or worries about your responsibilities in accordance with the Fire Safety Act of 2005, there are many resources out there that can help. There are also a wide range of specialist organisations who can provide information on those with specialist needs and their specific requirements.

Fire Protection for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing


Since their introduction, fire alarms have saved countless lives and remain a necessity in every household and workplace. This is perfectly fine for the majority of users but sound based alert systems don’t work for people who are deaf or hard of hearing. It is for this reason that many organisations are trying to create awareness for this issue and educate people on fire alarm systems which have been specifically designed for those who are hearing impaired.

The way in which designers have approached the production of fire alarm systems for deaf individuals is to create devices which work with other senses.


Many fire alarm systems utilise a mixture of the auditory alarm along with strobing lights for those with hearing problems. This approach can be incredibly successful in a variety of situations but becomes problematic when individuals are sleeping. This is because flashing lights are unlikely to wake a person and therefore alert them to the emergency. With this in mind, these types of alarms can face problems within the home as well as in establishments such as hotels.

This limitation has inspired companies to create a system which works around this issue.


Companies such as Fireco and Ei Electronics have created pads which vibrate when a fire alarm goes off. These pads are placed under the person’s pillow and wakes them in the event of an alarm. Both companies take different approaches to this device. The Ei175 from Ei Electronics is connected with the fire alarm and can be linked up with strobe lights for a multi-functional approach. Fireco’s Deafgard is different in that it is completely portable and is activated when it ‘hears’ the alarm and this triggers the vibration. Both devices have their corresponding strengths, allowing customers to choose the right one for them.


Individuals who suffer from mild to moderate hearing loss can still benefit from auditory alarms but specific considerations should be made. Such individuals may not be awoken by standard alarms but some companies have worked around this by designing detectors which emit a loud, low-frequency sound. Research has found that lower frequency alarms are much more likely to wake a person with moderate hearing impairment.

Emergency Services

Another issue which affects many deaf people is how to contact the emergency services in the event of a fire. Fortunately, a system has been put in place for this very scenario. People who are deaf or hard of hearing can register their phones with the emergency services and this allows them to text for assistance. Registration is quick and easy:

  1. Send a text with the word Register to 999.
  2. You will receive a text message with more information on the service.
  3. Read the message and reply with Yes.
  4. They will send another message which confirms that you have been successfully registered to the system.

The outbreak of fire can be terrifying, even more so for those who have lost their sense of hearing but there is help out there.

New Businesses Health and Safety in Check

First aid kit on laptop keyboard

If you’re setting up a new business, or have recently already done so, then health and safety may be the last thing on your mind.  Lets face it, there are plenty of more interesting things to think about like branding, promotions and kitting out your premises.  But, by not giving it the priority it needs your venture could be over before it’s even had a chance.  Unfortunately for small businesses, which are in a particularly precarious position, personal injury claims can not only be financially crippling, but also have the potential to destroy you and your business’ reputation.

Every business, no matter how small, has a legal responsibility for keeping a safe working environment for its employees and also for the safety of any member of the general public who may be visiting the premises.  That means anyone who sustains an injury can press charges if your business is found to be at fault and has neglected its health and safety responsibilities.

As you can see keeping abreast of health and safety regulations and maintaining a robust and easy to manage Health & Safety system is essential and should be the foundations of everything you do.  When approached in the right way and actioned regularly it isn’t as daunting as it first seems.

The routine execution of risk assessments is one of the most important things you should do from day one.  This involves inspecting your premises to identify any potential hazards.  It may be the most time consuming activity as you need to consider everything and anything that poses a threat of injury, but once a detailed list has been made you then have a good framework to work from.  Once you have complete your first risk assessment you will then need to implement measures to control the identified risks.

There are some great case studies on the Health & Safety Executive website where you can see sample risk assessments from a variety of different small and medium sized businesses.  Risk assessments then needs to be executed regularly and it is important to document your findings as well as any actions taken as a result.

Aside from risk assessments there are also other legal responsibilities you have:

  • To display the current Health & Safety Law Poster which can be obtained from the HSE
  • For businesses of more than five employees you must write a Health & Safety Policy, templates of which can be found on the HSE website here
  • To ensure your employees are in receipt of health & safety training and documentation educating them on your Health & Safety Policy and how to carry out their jobs safely.  You must also update them should any changes occur
  • To keep an accident book and ensure all accidents are reported.  It is also your responsibility to provide immediate medical attention for any illness or injury that occurs at work.  You will need a well-stocked first aid box and ideally an appointed first aider who has received first-aid training from an approved organisation
  • To provide workplace facilities for your employees.  A full list of these can be found here on the HSE website but includes Welfare Facilities – such as toilets, basins and soap, Health Issues – such as maintaining a reasonable working temperature, waste receptacles, adequate lighting and good ventilation, and Safety – which includes maintained premises and equipment, windows that open and the use of safety or toughened glass in windows and doors
  • Finally, make sure your business is covered by liability insurance from an FCA authorised insurer.  This insurance will help you to cover compensation costs should a court find you liable for an injury at work.

You can make the load slightly lighter on yourself by supporting a two-way flow of health and safety information in your organisation which can be achieved by encouraging your employees to identify and report any concerns they have as well as to put forward their suggestions of where improvements could be made. This could be via surveys or face-to-face discussions, whichever way works best for your set up.

So move Health & Safety up your list of things to do and please don’t bury your head in the sand as it may come back to bite you.

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