In this blog we’re going to identify the difference between a fire door and a fire exit, what the regulations are for both and how important it is to have a fire evacuation plan.
The number of times JKE attend visits to new sites to be told fire doors aren’t locked and when we get there we find the break glass has been popped. That’s far from ideal so you can find how we deal with this in the blog.
When it comes to fire safety, understanding the requirements for fire doors and fire exits is crucial. The UK has strict regulations in place to ensure the safety of occupants in buildings, and this includes specific guidelines for fire doors and fire exits. We’ll delve into the different requirements for these two essential components of fire safety and also cover important fire evacuation information.
Fire Door Requirements
In this section we’ll cover what your fire door needs to look like, the accessories required and the certification and maintenance that’s regulatory.
- Material and Construction
Fire doors must be constructed with fire-resistant materials to withstand high temperatures and prevent the spread of fire. They are typically made of solid wood or other fire-resistant materials.
In the UK, fire doors must meet certain standards and be certified by a recognized authority, such as the British Woodworking Federation (BWF) or Certifire. Certification ensures that the door has been tested and proven to provide the required fire resistance.
- Closers and Seals
Fire doors must be equipped with self-closing devices and intumescent seals. These seals expand when exposed to heat, creating a barrier to prevent the spread of fire and smoke.
Proper signage is crucial. Fire doors should have clear and visible “Fire Door Keep Shut” signs. These signs are essential to remind individuals not to prop open fire doors, which can compromise fire safety.
Regular maintenance and inspections are mandatory. Fire doors must be checked and maintained to ensure they function correctly. Any defects should be repaired promptly.
Fire Doors: Regulations and Best Practices
Securing fire doors is a critical aspect of fire safety in the UK. Fire doors are specifically designed to resist the spread of fire and smoke, and they must remain in their closed and locked position to serve their intended purpose.
Door Closers and Latches: Fire doors should be equipped with self-closing devices, such as door closers, to ensure that they automatically return to the closed position after use. Latches or bolts must also be in place to secure the door when it’s closed.
Intumescent Seals: Intumescent seals are essential to prevent the passage of smoke and fire. These seals expand when exposed to heat, creating a seal that helps maintain the integrity of the door. They must be properly installed and regularly maintained.
Prohibition of Wedges and Door Stops: It is illegal to use wedges, door stops, or any other device to keep a fire door open. Fire doors must remain closed at all times, except when they are actively in use.
Labelling and Certification: Fire doors should bear clear and visible markings and certification labels to indicate their fire-resistant properties. Look for labels from recognised certification bodies such as BWF (British Woodworking Federation) or Certifire.
Best Practices for Securing Fire Doors
Training and Education: All building occupants should be educated about the importance of fire doors and the necessity of keeping them closed. Training and awareness campaigns can help ensure compliance.
Regular Inspections: Scheduled inspections of fire doors are crucial to identify and rectify any issues. These inspections should include checking the condition of door closers, latches, intumescent seals, and other components.
The Fire Safety (England) Regulations 2022 made 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 undertake quarterly checks of all fire doors (including self-closing devices) in the common parts. Undertake, on a best endeavour basis, annual checks of all flat entrance doors (including self-closing devices) that lead onto a building’s common parts. This information is taken directly from the Government website, read more here.
Maintenance and Repairs: Any defects or issues identified during inspections should be addressed promptly. This may include repairing or replacing worn-out door closers, seals, or other hardware.
Fire Door Retainers: In some cases, where it is necessary to hold fire doors open for accessibility reasons, electromagnetic door retainers or fire door hold-open devices can be used. These devices release the door in case of a fire alarm or power failure, allowing it to close automatically.
Regular Fire Drills: Fire drills should include practicing the correct operation of fire doors, emphasizing the importance of closing them during an evacuation. This helps occupants understand the role of fire doors in their safety.
Reporting Violations: Encourage building occupants to report any violations or misuse of fire doors. Creating a culture of shared responsibility for fire safety is essential.
Failure to comply with fire door regulations can result in legal consequences, including fines and, in the event of a fire incident, potential liabilities for injury or loss of life. Building owners and responsible parties have a legal obligation to ensure that fire doors are maintained and used correctly.
Fire Exit Requirements
Simply put a fire exit is a safe route to get to a muster point. In this section we’ll identify what that needs to look like for your premises.
- Exit Paths
A fire exit must have a clear and unobstructed path to ensure that occupants can exit quickly and safely. This includes the removal of any obstacles, clutter, or storage items.
- Emergency Lighting
In the event of a power failure or low visibility, emergency lighting should be in place to guide occupants to the fire exit. This lighting should be tested regularly to ensure it functions when needed.
- Exit Signs
Clear and well-lit exit signs are essential. They should be strategically placed, easily visible, and indicate the direction to the nearest fire exit.
- Panic Hardware
Fire exits often require panic hardware, such as push bars or touch bars, to allow quick and easy egress without the need for keys or complex operations.
- Regular Inspections
Regular inspections and maintenance are crucial to ensure that fire exits remain functional and accessible. It’s essential that fire exit doors are not obstructed and open easily.
Fire Evacuation Information
In any building, providing clear and accurate fire evacuation information is of paramount importance. Here are some key elements to include in your fire evacuation plan:
- Evacuation Routes must be clearly marked and communicated, ensuring that occupants know where to go and how to exit the building safely.
- Assembly Points should be designated outside the building where occupants should gather after evacuating.
- Alarm Systems must be in place, tested regularly, and that occupants know what the alarms sound like and what to do when they hear them.
- Fire Wardens should be appointed and trained appropriately so they can help guide occupants to safety and ensure the building is fully evacuated.
- Training and Drills have to be conducted regularly to familiarise occupants with evacuation procedures and ensure they know how to respond in case of a fire.
Keep your eyes peeled for a more in depth article on this topic, what we shall say here is that the specifics of fire safety requirements may vary depending on the type of building and its intended use. It’s essential for building owners, managers, and occupants to be aware of and comply with fire safety regulations.
Accurate use of break glasses
When JKE installs a ‘green’ box for your emergency door release we have a trick up our sleeves. That trick is to add a buzzer. That means if it is popped then it will emit a noise that will annoy people’s ears so they are less likely to pop the glass on access controlled doors. This not only means people will stop you’ll also be saved call out charges that are unnecessary due to misuse of the system.
How can JKE help with fire doors and fire exits?
JKE can work with you as a project management company to ensure you have everything correct from fire risk assessments to fire alarm installations. Getting everything correct to the right level requires investment and attention to detail. JKE work with subcontractors who can support getting the right fire doors in place and fire evacuation plans developed. Our engineers can support with the accompanying equipment like lighting, signage, break glass points and magnetic door strips.