A fire door is much more than ‘just a door’; forming a crucial cog in the life safety wheel, a fire door is pivotal in providing the passive fire protection that is often the difference between life and death.
Fire doors compartmentalise a building in order to contain a blaze and delay the spread of fire and toxic smoke, providing an extended window of opportunity for fire services to respond to the emergency.
A properly installed and well maintained fire-resistant timber door can offer between 30 and 60 minutes of important fire protection without interfering with normal daily use, or a clear means of escape in an emergency.
However, it is worryingly common for fire doors to be dangerously held ajar risking the safety of occupants with fire and smoke free to spread unhindered. 64% of premises visited by the Fire Service had their fire doors wedged open – universities halls of residence, hotels and residential homes are among the worst offenders.
If you prop open a fire door and it is seen to put lives at risk you could suffer large fines, have your insurance void, or even face a prison sentence. In May 2010, a Norwich landlord was fined and jailed after a tenant almost died in a blaze, it was the third time Mike Billings had been prosecuted for breaching fire and health and safety laws – which included wedging open fire doors.
Now in its seventh year, Fire Door Safety Week (23 September-29 September) is a ‘mass market’ awareness campaign to increase public understanding of the role that fire doors play in protecting life and property.
The 2019 Fire Door Safety Week campaign focuses on the role fire doors play in protecting us when we are asleep; when we are at our most vulnerable – and in particular specialised housing and HMOs (House in Multiple Occupation).
Under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 the responsibility for fire risk assessment in all non-domestic buildings is the duty of a “Responsible Person”, it is within this persons remit to ensure regular checks and maintenance of fire doors.
The RRFSO outlines the necessity of effective security to prevent the misuse of fire doors maintaining successful operation in a real emergency: “Enforcing authorities may wish to advise landlords of the need to maintain adequate security relating to fire doors.”
The Exit Stopper is door alarm is a unique and highly effective way to alert you to any misuse of fire doors, if the protected door is opened the electronic device will emit a powerful 95/105 dB warning alarm. A 15-second trip delay allows the unit to be fixed to a door in regular use, allowing the door to be used as required but preventing it from being dangerously wedged open.
Once the door fitted with the Exit Stopper is closed several reset options are available including an automatic silence function, a feature that is particularly useful for fire doors that are in regular use but still at risk of misuse. A key for authorised personnel can be used to override the alarm.
A number of new features were recently introduced that have further enhanced the Exit Stopper, alongside the audible warning alarm all models are supplied with a visual flashing beacon. Universal sound symbols and ‘on and off’ function marks have been added for worldwide recognition.
The upgrade includes a low battery indicator and dual language warning instructions. Whilst all models will still be supplied with English, the housing of the unit has been updated to create space for one of 21 additional language labels to be installed, allowing one model to be used globally.
Ralph Good, Maintenance Supervisor at Callaway Public Schools, said: “Since we installed the Exit Stopper, fire doors are no longer opened when they aren’t supposed to be.”