Blake Fire and Security Systems

Is My Open Fire Door Dangerous?

Date: 10 November 2022

We all know that fire safety is important. But what happens when you bend the rules? Is an open fire door really a big problem?

In this blog post, we'll explore the risks of an open fire door and what you should and shouldn't do when propping them open.

We'll start with the basics...

Why should fire doors be kept closed?

Fire doors are an important part of a building's fire safety system. They slow the spread of fire and smoke throughout a building.

When a fire starts, the heat and smoke from the fire will rise to the ceiling. The air around the fire will become hot and will start to rise. This hot air will travel through the building looking for a way out.

When your fire doors are kept closed they STOP a fire from spreading to the next room.

open-fire-door

There are three main risks associated with open fire doors:

1. Ruin the fire rating

All fire doors have a specific fire rating, which denotes how long the door can withstand fire before collapsing. This is usually either 30 or 60 minutes.

When a fire door is wedged open, it is no longer a barrier and your fire door's rating is null and void! There is nothing preventing the fire from entering the next room... putting lives at risk.

2. Blocking escape routes

Fire doors are designed to provide an escape route in the event of a fire. But if they're wedged open, they may block your occupant's escape. How? 

If the corridor is filled with smoke and people escaping come to the fire door from the wrong angle it may get in the way.

If the lights then fail... there's even more scope for confusion and delay. At a time when you just can’t afford any…

3. Allowing smoke and toxic gasses to spread

Smoke and toxic gasses are the biggest killers in fires, not the flames. So it's critical to keep them contained.

When your fire doors are wedged open, the smoke and gasses travel freely through the building.

Terrifyingly, open fire doors can cause a chimney effect which leads to the fire spreading quickly. Possibly destroying the entire building.

In short, propping or wedging open fire doors stops them from doing their job.

Is it illegal to wedge a fire door open?

Wedging a fire door open is not illegal but, as explained, can have dangerous consequences. If a fire occurs and someone is injured or killed as a result of the door being wedged open... you face large fines. And your responsible person could even be charged with manslaughter!

But that's not all, your insurance company may refuse to pay out for the damage to your property. Most fire doors will hold back a fire for 30 or 60 minutes. That's plenty of time for the alarm to be raised by your fire alarm system. And for the Fire Brigade to arrive and limit the damage.

Also, because your wedged open fire door allows the fire to spread, emergency exit routes are compromised... further endangering lives unnecessarily. This negligence makes your insurance company unhappy...

Scary stuff.

How to make sure your fire doors are compliant

"A fire door is a Life Safety Product, which is why it’s so important to ensure they are correctly installed and maintained"

Martin Blake - Passive Fire Safety Manager

Compliant Fire Doors Guide

64% of premises visited by the Fire Service have fire doors wedged open

Gulp... But why is that?

Fire doors are often wedged open because they are heavy and awkward. Besides, people need to keep them open while moving things between rooms.

Sometimes your fire doors do need to be kept open. So what should you do?

Fire Door Retainers - you'll never need to wedge open your fire doors again!

Keep your fire doors closed unless... you have CERTIFIED fire door retainers. These keep your fire door open until the fire alarm is triggered. Then they close the doors automatically, giving your occupants the time needed to evacuate safely.

However...

Not all door retainers on the market are fit for purpose. In fact, many of them don't meet fire safety standards and could put people's lives at risk. Leaving you and your responsible person at risk too...

When choosing fire door retainers, always look for a certification label, such as BS EN1155. This shows that the product has been tested to high standards and is safe to use.

You should also check that your retainer is suitable for the type of door you have. For example, if you have a double door, you'll need a double-door retainer. Common sense but... people do get this wrong.

And finally, make sure the retainer is fitted correctly by a qualified fire door engineer. Incorrectly fitted retainers can damage doors and frames, making them more vulnerable to fire. And so no longer compliant!

But what about fire exit doors?

People often confuse fire doors and fire exit doors. Fire doors are internal doors, while fire exits are external doors... used as an emergency exit. And they do NOT have to be fire resistant!

Because fire exits are also used for general access they can be left open.

Should you prop fire doors open with a fire extinguisher?

Unbelievably, one of our engineers was asked this question... after explaining the risks of propped open fire doors! Seeing as you managed to get this far, I'm sure you know the answer!

The bottom line

A wedged open fire door is a serious safety hazard. It can allow fires to spread quickly and put people's lives at risk. Your BM Trada fire door engineer will make sure you install certified fire door retainers. These will keep the door open until a fire alarm is triggered, at which point your retainer will close the door automatically.

Thereby, keeping all your occupants safe and your building compliant.

Approved by BN Trada

If you have any questions about your fire doors please contact Blake's. We are fully qualified to install and maintain all your Fire Doors and Fire Stopping. All works are fully compliant with legislation and carried out to BM Trada standards.

If you go on the BM Trada website you can search for certified companies. You will find our Passive Fire Safety Manager, Martin Blake, there. Approved for fire door Installation and maintenance AND fire stopping installation.

Click the button and get in touch

Compliant Fire Doors Guide

(c)2022 Lollipop Local Ltd All Rights Reserved

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This blog post is provided for general information only. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. Call Blake's on 01702 447800 to speak to one of our professionals for specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content on our site.

Although we make reasonable efforts to update the information on our site, we make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether express or implied, that the content on our site is accurate, complete or up to date.

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