Fire Door Safety Week took place from 24 to 30 September, and it seems there are still a number of outstanding areas in the fire safety arena which commercial landlords, the salespeople selling fire doors and the tradespeople fitting them don't properly address.
Fire doors and safety
Fire doors offer significant fire safety protection for people and the structures of buildings, as they are designed to withstand fire for between 30 and 240 minutes.
The Grenfell Tower tragedy highlighted just how important fire safety is within residential blocks, but it's just as critical for tenants in domestic rental properties and commercial operations. Ironmongery Direct conducted research into tradespeople and fire doors prior to Fire Door Safety Week and the results are rather alarming. Around 50% of tradespeople don't feel confident about advising their customers on appropriate fire door safety.
Despite the huge amount of media coverage in the wake of the Grenfell Tower disaster, trades professionals in the fire door sector did not see a massive upswing in enquiries about fire door safety measures. Less than 20% of the tradespeople polled by Ironmongery Direct actually saw increased demand for fire safety products or the intumescent strips that need replacing in fire doors. The survey also found that 70% of tradespeople would not know who to contact if they did notice problems with fire doors, and around 50% of respondents said they did not even know how to identify a fire door. Even more concerning is the fact that around 34% of the tradespeople within the ironmongery sector that were surveyed stated they would feel happy about propping open a fire door to let in draughts or allow easier access.
Lack of instruction
Even more concerning, though, is the fact that since the Grenfell fire disaster fewer than one in five buy-to-let landlords have contacted their tenants to advise about the basics of fire safety precautions. This news was announced prior to Fire Door Safety Week and indicates that around 25% of people feel anxiety about living in an apartment building. Further, around 50% of people living in flats feel unsure about what to do in the event of fire breaking out. This is a very real indication that people living in rented properties need to be advised about appropriate fire safety measures and the actions they should take if fire should occur in their building.
Building regulations now stipulate that any property of three stories or more should be fitted with fire doors, so educating the owners and residents of buildings on how to use and maintain them should really be a priority for any construction company.
The Chief Executive of the Fire Industry Association, Ian Moore, commented that fire doors are an essential safety measure to protect residents and buildings from the effects of a fire. He said: "In all cases, a suitable and sufficient fire risk assessment should be carried out by the responsible person – usually the building owner. A fire risk assessment should determine, through thorough inspection, any potential risks or hazards, so that they may be resolved. If you are worried about hazards and risks from fire, you can always contact us, the Fire Industry Association, for free and impartial information and we will be able to direct you to an expert on the subject."