They may look the same but there is a big difference between a standard door and fire door.
A fire door is an engineered safety device, designed to save lives and protect property. Unfortunately, it is only once a fire has broken out that we see the dangers of poorly-installed and maintained fire doors.
What is a fire door?
A fire door is typically manufactured from timber and is designed to delay the spread of fire and smoke throughout a property. It acts as a barrier and compartmentalises a fire to stop it spreading through a property.
When installed correctly with compliant seals, frame and ironmongery they help provide your tenants with a chance to escape or seek refuge in a fire. Furthermore, a compliant fire door will minimise the damage caused by a fire to your property.
What are my responsibilities as a landlord?
The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 Article 17 says there needs to be a suitable regime to maintain fire safety equipment. This includes fire doors.
You have a duty of care to your tenants to keep your fire doors in a compliant state and ensure that they are in full working order. To achieve compliance, it is recommended that you have your fire doors inspected every six months by a ‘competent person’.
What are the consequences of not adequately maintaining your fire doors?
Landlords are often caught falling foul of the terms stated in the Fire Safety Order. For example, earlier this month a landlord was sentenced to four months imprisonment, suspended for 12 months, with a fine of £20,000 and £12,000 costs for severe not complying with fire safety regulations.
Also, your insurance is unlikely to offer a full pay-out if they can prove that there have been fire safety breaches in your property.
Do I have fire doors in my property?
It is important to understand if your property has fire doors.
Typically, two-storey houses do not have fire doors other than the internal garage door. However, in three-storey houses all habitable rooms need to have a fire door installed that can withstand fire for 20 minutes (there are very few doors on the market designed to withstand fire for 20 minutes, most three storey houses are installed with 30-minute doors which have a rating called FD30s).
Flat entrance doors or rooms in houses of multiple occupancy (HMO) require a fire door to hold back fire and smoke for 30 minutes. A door that holds back fire and smoke for 30 minutes is called FD30s.
The suffix ‘s’ denotes that the door is also meant to hold back smoke. The number denotes the number of minutes that the door should work hold back fire until it fails.
How do I maintain my fire doors?
It is essential that a competent person with relevant qualifications and training is employed to inspect your fire doors. For example, you could use a fire door inspector who is certified under the Fire Door Inspection Scheme (FDIS).
When it comes to maintaining your fire doors it is essential that a competent joiner is employed.
In larger properties it would be prudent to employ a company that holds accreditation such as FIRAS or BM-Trada’s Q-Mark Scheme for fire door installation and fire door maintenance.
Companies such as AJM Fire Safety offer services where they offer full FDIS inspections and BM-Trada Q-Mark accredited installations and maintenance. Find out more at ajmfiresafety.com.
How can I learn more about fire doors?
Learning about fire doors can be daunting. It is difficult to even know where to begin. However, training on fire door safety is available. UK Fire Door Training offers endorsed courses on fire door inspections, installations and maintenance. With a new course being developed now specifically designed for landlords. You can find out more at ukfiredoortraining.com.
Jonny Millard is Certified Fire Door Inspector and General Manager of AJM Fire Safety.