Protecting Lives, Protecting Loss
What’s to lose?
Since starting my Fire Door Inspection journey, I have been alarmed by the proportion of fire resistant doors that have failed an inspection – at least half of them. Many of these failings are not immediately apparent, for example automatic hold open devices that don’t release the doors when they should, or a hinge with a leaky bearing. But some of them HAVE been obvious, such as detached door closers or doors so clearly ‘dropped’ they are being propped up by their partner!
I will be the first to admit that, in the past, I have been ignorant of the importance of fully functional fire doors and had limited understanding of their purpose. Not that I would have turned a blind eye to obvious defects in any of the places where I would have been the ‘responsible person’, but if the doors looked okay, surely they WERE okay?
No – it is not okay.
Looking back, it scares me to think that an undetected fault in a fire door in one of my premises could have had catastrophic consequences. I didn’t know what ‘compartmentalisation’ was – at least, not in relation to fire safety – much less realise a fire doors’ function in maintaining separate compartments in order to restrict the spread of fire and provide precious minutes to people trying to escape.
I suspect there are plenty of ‘responsible persons’ out there now who are in the same boat as I was all those years ago – but beware, ignorance is no defence in law and, even if you’re not one of those who blatantly risk people’s lives by recklessly ignoring problems with your fire doors, you can be prosecuted.
Research conducted by the Fire Door Inspection Scheme (FDIS) in 2015 on 45 prosecutions involving non-compliant fire doors resulted in fines totalling £951,000 – this on top of a number of suspended prison sentences and even custodial sentences. These were not all large corporations, far from it. They included landlords of HMO’s, pubs and restaurants, owners of SMEs, care homes and nurseries too.
So, if you are an owner, landlord, manager, employer or appointed ‘responsible person’ – anyone with legal and moral responsibilities for fire safety, please seek the help of an FDIS certified fire door inspector to ensure all your fire doors are working properly.