Fire Door Safety Week may not be one of the most recognised national weeks, however, it is certainly an important one. In support we’ve highlighted some simple checks employers can undertake to help protect employees and businesses, as well as examples of businesses with serious failings around fire safety including some who, despite remaining compliant, still suffered substantial losses as a result of fire.
There were 177,844 fires in the UK in 2018 with 6,902 non-fatal casualties and 261 fatal. Fire doors are one of the first lines of defence for protection from serious harm.
Fire doors help to contain fire and prevent harmful smoke from spreading. However, they are often the first thing to be downgraded on a specification and then mismanaged throughout their service life.
Unsurprisingly, in 2018 over 1 billion pounds was paid out for fire-related property insurance claims in the UK alone. Ensuring that you have installed, maintained and checked your fire doors regularly helps protect people, buildings and equipment.
Five Step Fire Door Check
Confirm that each door is certified and that the instructions are correct. Fire doors usually provide 30, 60, 90 or 120 minutes’ worth of protection & this will be clearly shown on the label.
- Gaps & seals
Check that seals are intact with no signs of damage. Gaps should be less than 4mm around the door frame with the gap under the door no larger than 8mm – you shouldn’t be able to see light under the door.
- Hinges & Closers
Check the closer shuts the door onto the latch from any position. The hinges should be CE marked and firmly fixed with no missing screws.
- Glass & Glazing
Check the seal is continuous and attached to the glass and bead. The glazing beads are attached firmly to the frame and shouldn’t be damaged and glass should be intact.
- Leaf, Frame & Operation
Check the door closes firmly onto the latch without sticking on the floor or the frame. Ensure the door closes correctly around all parts of the frame.
The Law states that if you employ five or more people (even if some of them work remotely) a regularly reviewed fire risk assessment is an absolute must. Employers are responsible for carrying out a fire risk assessment of the premises, planning for any risks and notifying employees of any risks found whilst providing employees with training from day one.
Engage & Educate
With over 3 million new fire doors purchased and installed every year in the UK it is clear that businesses are realising the importance of implementing prevention and protection methods in the workplace, possibly galvanised by examples where companies have been fined for a failure to provide adequate fire safety precautions…
- The Tooting care home, Gold Care Consultancy Ltd, was fined £100,000 for serious fire safety failings. A pensioner sadly died in the incident after a fire broke out in her room after the care home failed to have a fire risk assessment & policies in place.
- Derby Court Hotel owner was fined £38,000 and given a 6 month suspended jail sentence. He put tenants at risk of serious injury or death after an inspection found numerous fire safety failures. In particular, the fire doors were either found to be jammed, poorly fitted or damaged. As well as this, the fire alarm was faulty and a risk assessment was over a decade outdated.
- A luxury Cheshire hotel was fined £75,000 for serious fire safety breaches which could have caused serious injury or death to customers. The court heard that on the third floor of the luxury hotel there was not a single working fire alarm, there were faulty smoke detectors and substandard fire exits. Employees had also not been properly trained in fire safety by managers.However, even when companies have fire safety regulations in place, serious damage from fire can culminate in deadly costs:
- The online delivery firm, Ocado, revealed that a fire which broke out in its Andover warehouse cost the company £110 million. The company had adequate fire precautions in place, however, the extent of loss for the company shows that more can be done to help protect assets from fires. Perhaps if there were more fire safety precautions in place the outcome would have been less severe.
- The luxury Mandarin Oriental hotel had just undergone a £185 million restoration after a fire broke out just after the completion. 120 firefighters and 20 engines fought the fire for nearly 6 hours, whilst the destruction led to the hotel closing again.
Training is Key
A regularly updated Health and Safety policy coupled with training is the easiest way to enable your employees to fully engage with fire safety practices.
If you would like advice on an employee engagement programme or would like assistance with any aspect of Health & Safety contact one of our Employment Law Consultants on 0161 603 2156.