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Expert technician shares essential guide to fire doors in schools

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Health, safety, and fire resilience technicians Julie Nobles and Joanne Rafferty, conduct on-site fire risk assessments on a daily basis in schools as part of the Risk Protection Arrangement’s (RPA) resilience measures. In a recent blog post, Julie discussed the importance of fire doors and the measures necessary to ensure compliance with the required safety standards.

The Regulatory Reform; Fire Safety Order (FSO) 2005 mandates schools to take responsibility for ensuring the safety of everyone in the building, including pupils, teachers, and support staff. Fire doors play a crucial role in defending against fire, smoke, and toxic fumes in public spaces such as schools, where good fire safety practices can be a matter of life and death.

According to Nobles, fire doors are essential in containing fires within compartments to prevent the spread of fire, smoke, and toxic fumes. However, for fire doors to function effectively, they must be installed and maintained correctly. During on-site risk assessments, Nobles and and Rafferty have identified common issues such as inoperable fire exits, non-compliant internal fire doors, locked, blocked, bolted final exit/fire doors, door mechanisms that do not close efficiently, and locks that affect fire resistance.

Nobles advised that schools should have a fire strategy identifying where fire doors are required, usually in the form of a CAD/plan drawing produced by the building’s architect. Fire doors are particularly important in high-risk areas, such as protected stairways and long corridors exceeding 12 meters in length that connect two or more exits.

Regular assessment

To comply with the Regulatory Reform (fire safety) Order 2005, a competent person should regularly review the fire risk assessment of their school building(s) to check their fire doors. Fire doors should be checked regularly, at least every six months, and a basic check should be carried out daily to ensure exits are not blocked or obstructed.

Nobles recommended reading the Fire safety risk assessments in educational premises for further guidance on fire precautions and conducting fire risk assessments. It is critical to use reputable suppliers when purchasing new fire doors, ensuring that the product has been fire tested, and have a competent organization install them. Regular inspections should be carried out to maintain fire doors, including the frame and ironmongery.

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