It is dangerous to wedge or prop open a fire door as the safety of occupants cannot be guaranteed if there is a fire. Fire doors need to be closed to prevent the spread of fire and smoke.
Legally, if you wedge open a fire door and it is judged that this puts someone’s life at risk, you could suffer penalties, including some hefty fines.
Wedging open fire doors can lead to catastrophic consequences. It has a knock-on effect which isn’t limited to paying a huge fine; it can also lead to prison sentences and ultimately loss of life.
Why are fire doors necessary?
Fire doors are a vital part of a building’s fire strategy, and can only do their job if they are closed. They are specially designed to prevent the spread of fire and smoke through a building so people can evacuate safely and the building is protected from damage.
A wedged door prevents a fire door from closing, which means the fire can spread, putting all occupants in danger. Fire doors are clearly marked with a sign stating ‘Fire door, keep shut’. If you see a fire door that is held open, whether that’s with a door wedge, fire extinguisher, chair, pot plant or anything else, you need to make sure the obstruction is removed so the door stays closed.
In the event of a fire, it is quite possible that an insurer would be unwilling to pay for damages when a door has been wedged or propped open. The majority of fire doors will hold a fire in a room for 30 minutes by which time the Fire & Rescue service will be on site. Wedging open doors can, and has, caused a chimney effect, which causes fire to spread rapidly, destroying entire buildings.
Wedging or propping open a fire door can prove devastating as it allows fire to spread unchecked, putting lives and buildings at risk. Despite this, 64% of premises visited by the Fire Service have fire doors wedged open.
But it’s not as simple as saying don’t wedge that door. We want fire doors open, as they are a nuisance in everyday life. We know they can be heavy, cause obstruction and even injuries.
Why do people wedge open fire doors?
Despite the dangers and risk of legal penalties for wedging open fire doors, people still do it. Closed doors are a pain. They get in the way if you’re trying to carry a tray of drinks or your luggage. They hinder access if you’re using a wheelchair or walking stick or pushing a buggy. They can cause a room to be hot and stuffy by restricting the flow of air.
Fire doors are heavy and can be a struggle to get through. They can be difficult to open, particularly for frailer people, those with mobility issues, or young children at schools and nurseries.
However leaving fire doors wedged or propped open disregards the safety of others. It is also against the law. The only safe way for fire doors to be held open is with special devices that close them automatically on the sound of the alarm.
It’s time to kick the wedge!
The common door wedge is our enemy here at Fireco. As we’ve seen, when fire doors are wedged open, they aren’t able to to do their job properly, and this puts people’s lives at risk.
Send us your wedge pictures!
Join our kick the wedge campaign! Send us your images of badly wedged or propped open fire doors. We’ll post your pictures on our website and on our Twitter page. Either tweet us your pictures @Fireco using #kickthewedge or email us firstname.lastname@example.org using the subject line ‘Kick the wedge’.
Below you’ll see a few shocking examples we’ve seen, or people have sent us. Fire doors should not be propped open with bricks, fire extinguishers, chairs, wedges or anything else just found lying around!
Fire safety starts with a thorough risk assessment to assess the individual needs of a building.The Fire Safety Advice Centre has a good guide to risk assessments here.
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