Blake Fire and Security Systems

Fire Door inspections or surveys - what your Responsible Person needs to know!

Date: 2 June 2022

As a building owner, it's crucial you ensure that your fire doors are always in good working order. And that's where your regular fire door inspection comes into play.

Obviously, your fire doors provide a critical line of defence against fires spreading and they're required by law. A faulty fire door can not only be dangerous for you and your employees, but it could also lead to serious fines. Make sure you and your building's occupants stay safe by keeping your fire doors in top condition.

The trouble is it can get confusing. Especially with all the jargon. There are fire door surveys, fire door inspections, visual inspections, basic checks... And it goes on and on.

That's before you get to the certification! Or accreditations... This post is an attempt to clear up the confusion.

Who is responsible for ensuring your fire doors are fit for purpose?

It's the job of your Responsible Person. In a commercial property, your Responsible Person may be the business owner, landlord or occupier. In shared premises, you may have more than one Responsible Person. These people must work together to ensure the relevant requirements of the Fire Safety Order are met.

If you or your Responsible Person don’t know enough to do the job properly, you need to bring in a Competent Person to help. This may require a full fire risk assessment, especially if you've not had one for a long time. Or a suitably qualified professional, see below.

As Responsible Person...

You're in charge of making sure your fire doors are compliant with regulations. But if you're confused

Download your free 6-step guide to compliant fire doors

It's a simple plan that shows you everything you need to know to make sure your fire doors are compliant. So your fire door inspection ends well. Every time!

Compliant Fire Doors Guide

Are scheduled fire door inspections or surveys a legal requirement?

Yes, they are. If you're the Responsible Person for a commercial property, it's down to you. You're obliged to make sure that all your fire doors are properly maintained and fit for purpose. This involves carrying out regular inspections or surveys to check their condition, as well as taking action to fix any problems that are found.

Failure to do this could result in heavy fines or even imprisonment... if someone is injured or killed as a result of your negligence.

How often should scheduled fire door inspections or surveys be performed?

This will depend on the type of property and its use. For example, a busy office block with high levels of foot traffic will need more frequent inspections or surveys than a small shop that's only open during the working day.

As a general guide, your fire door inspection should be carried out annually or twice a year in 'high-traffic' locations where wear and tear is more of an issue. But if there are any changes to the use of your premises or any concerns about the condition of your doors, you should call in the professionals between scheduled visits.

Calling in a professional to carry out a survey of repairs may seem like a nuisance but it could save you money. We were called to a large warehouse to look at some heavy-use Fire Doors. A hinge had broken because a screw had sheared right off. These fire doors had suffered a lot of 'abuse' and were not maintained.

An earlier call and survey of repairs by professionals would have caught this before more damage and expensive repairs were required. If only they had done their basic visual checks regularly... (see below).

Who should undertake your scheduled fire door inspections or surveys?

It must be carried out by a Competent Person. Consider BM Trada accredited professionals or equivalent. Importantly, they're up to speed on the very latest fire door regulations! Using anyone claiming to be competent but without BM Trada or equivalent accreditations is a risk. That could land your Responsible Person in big trouble. Your best bet is to use an accredited professional.

fire-door-inspection

Do these scheduled fire door inspections or surveys from professionals cover everything we need to do?

No. As Responsible Person, you need to perform basic visual checks regularly. We suggest these are carried out monthly. These 'visual inspections' are very different to what a professional accredited by BM Trada or equivalent 3rd party would carry out. These are simply basic checks to ensure nothing drastic affects the performance of your Fire Doors.

The ultimate goal is for your Fire Door to shut flush every time. Under its own operation. Put it this way, it needs to act like a wall. If it doesn't shut it's like having a hole in the wall (literally) that lets smoke and flames pass from one room to the other.

What are some of the most common problems affecting fire door performance?

Fire doors can develop all sorts of problems over time, especially if they're not regularly maintained. Some of the most common issues with fire door components include:

  • doors that don't close properly or are difficult to open
  • damaged or missing door hardware
  • defective door hinges
  • faulty door closers
  • gaps around the edges of doors
  • cracks or holes in door panels
  • worn or damaged intumescent smoke seals around door frames

Issues like these compromise the fire stopping capability of your doors. Making it easier for fires to spread... it's crucial you get issues like these fixed as soon as possible.

Common symptoms affecting your fire door to look out for?

When you or your Responsible Person perform a basic check you want to look out for things like; something rubbing when closing/opening your fire door, it's difficult to open/shut. The door closer won't return the door. Any missing signage. Ideally, you take a look each time you use the door!

Critically, if your fire door does not shut fully flush, every time, you need to call a professional to perform a survey of repairs. You cannot wait for the next scheduled visit. If it won't shut, your fire door cannot function properly... it will not keep fire and smoke at bay for the required timeframe.

We need to stress that this is NOT legal advice, merely a rule of thumb. If in doubt, call in the BM Trada professionals.

In Essex, you can trust Blake Fire & Security to handle everything for you. We're BM Trada accredited. We'll perform a survey of repairs on your fire doors. Then fix anything that needs repairing using ARTs (Approved Repair Techniques). Or replace doors if they've reached the end of their useful life. And, crucially, for compliance, we'll provide the certification you need for your FRA (Fire Risk Assessment). For maintenance that's a ROM (Record of Maintenance) and for installations a ROI (Record of Installation). This is the proof that you've done everything you need to.

What do I need to do with my certification?

When your maintenance is complete or replacement Fire Doors installed your certificates MUST be filed carefully. You should send these to whoever needs proof of compliance. Your insurance company, perhaps. But certainly your Fire Risk Assessor. Sending these documents may make your FRA run more smoothly. Your assessor will see your 6 years, for example, of fire door maintenance and installations performed by BM Trada professionals and may be sufficiently satisfied.

Why fire door inspections, surveys, professional installations, maintenance and repairs are more relevant than ever...

Recent research from the FDIS concerning more than 100,000 fire door inspections carried out in 2021 is damning - 75% of fire doors inspected failed to meet the required standard and 31% were never fit for purpose! That's stunning in anyone's book.

The research from the experts at the Fire Door Inspection Scheme (FDIS) only included work by approved inspectors. So you can be sure their work was accurate.

The most common reasons for inspection failure:

  • excessive gaps between the door and the door frame (77%)
  • care and maintenance issues (54%)
  • issues over smoke sealing (37%)
  • improper installation (31%)

Fire safety legislation on the back of Grenfell means...

Following the awful disaster and the subsequent enquiry, the Building Safety Act was put into Law on April 28th, 2022. This will substantially shake up building safety, with fire safety being a large component.

Although initially concerning high rise buildings, this is just the start. According to experts at the recent FireEx Trade Show, the legislation is designed to be applied across the entire construction sector.

It's time for all building owners and their Responsible Persons to get their acts together. Especially considering the shocking findings from the FDIS regarding the state of fire doors in 2021!

What are the scheduled fire door inspection requirements?

First of all, your scheduled fire door inspection or survey MUST be carried out by a Competent Person. And that means BM Trada or equivalent 3rd party qualified. If you're not sure, err on the side of caution.

DIY fire door inspection... what needs to be checked?

The following list of checks is not the equivalent of a comprehensive fire door inspection or survey by an BM Trada or equivalent 3rd party professional. But it gives you an idea of the fire door testing requirements. And it will help you uncover any damage that needs rectifying.

Again, it's best to err on the side of caution. If in doubt, bring in a professional.

Certified Fire Doors

Your fire doors must be certified. Look for a label that indicates compliance. It's usually at the top of the door.

Fire doors that close fully

If the fire door is fitted with a self-closing device, you need to test it. Open your door completely and let it go. Will it close freely? Any sticking or jamming?

See if it shuts flush into the frame. Then test again from around 30 degrees - this is the approximate minimum a door will be opened for someone to walk through.

Fire door closer itself

Make sure it is securely attached and undamaged.

Fire Door surveys uncover non-compliant fire doors allowing us to replace them with compliant fire door sets

Fire Door surveys uncover non-compliant fire doors allowing us to replace them with compliant fire door sets

Look for gaps

The gap between your door leaf (the door itself) and the frame should be 3mm plus or minus 1mm!

Door frames in good condition

All fire door frames must be undamaged and firmly attached to the wall. Any loosening is an issue.

Intumescent smoke seals

Your fire doors must be fitted with intumescent seals. These swell and expand when exposed to heat. They delay smoke and fire from moving past your fire door. Check there are strips attached inside the groove in the frame or door leaf. These strips must be continuous around the frame and undamaged.

Hinges

Fire doors are required to have at least three hinges of CE grade (or UK standard equivalent). With all screws fitted and in good condition.

Latches

If your fire door has a latch, make sure it holds the door shut without any rattling. Also, ensure the handle operates fully and smoothly.

Fire door retainers

Also known as hold-open devices, these are self-explanatory. They allow you to keep your fire doors open for ease of movement between rooms. They will automatically close when the fire alarm sounds.

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.

Test your fire door retainers weekly to ensure they are in good working order.

Undamaged door leafs

Your fire doors can end up on the receiving end of some severe treatment. Trolleys and beds crashed into them. Knocks from them being slammed shut or kicked open. This means they are vulnerable to damage. Which in turn reduces their capacity to stop fires from spreading.

You need to check for damage to the door leaf and any glass.

Fire doors wedged open

Obviously, if any of your fire doors are wedged open or obstructed in any way, your fire safety will be compromised.

Bottom line how can you ensure you comply with fire door regulations?

The first step is to make sure you have a regular survey of repairs and maintenance schedule in place. This will help you to identify any problems early and take action to fix them before they become serious.

You should also keep a record of all your fire door inspections or surveys carried out by BM Trada or equivalent professionals. And any replacements or repair work that follows. This shows the authorities that you're taking your responsibilities seriously.

If you're not sure whether your doors are up to scratch, it's a good idea to get the opinion of an accredited BM Trada fire door professional or 3rd party equivalent. They will be able to tell you if any problems need to be fixed and advise you on how to make sure your doors are compliant with the latest fire safety regulations. In Essex, a good choice is Blake's, you can contact us here.

If you're confused about your fire door responsibilities as Responsible Person...

Do download your free 6-step guide to compliant fire doors

It's a simple plan that shows you everything you need to know to make sure your fire doors are compliant. So your fire door inspection ends well. Every time!

Compliant Fire Doors Guide

(c) 2022 Lollipop Local Ltd All Rights Reserved

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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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