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Closed fire doors save lives. They prevent fire spreading through a building, which gives people more time to evacuate. But closed fire doors also hugely hinder access throughout a building. What are five of the biggest concerns with closed fire doors?

Heavy doors

Fire doors are heavy — they need to be to be able contain a fire. However, trying to push open a heavy fire door can be difficult for younger school pupils, frailer residents at a care home or hospital or those with limited mobility.

Many of the residents of the flats at Adlington House in Cheshire have limited mobility and were struggling with heavy fire doors closing too quickly. Click here to find out how they solved the problem.

Closed doors

Wedged open fire doors are illegal because fire doors need to be closed to do their job. However closed doors prevent the circulation of fresh air, which can lead to a stuffy environment. They also can be a physical and mental barrier to those with limited mobility, as well as difficult to open for those with heavy luggage or pushchairs.

The Albert Hotel needed to keep fire doors open in their Victorian building to improve ventilation, make the hotel more welcoming for guests and ensure it was easier for staff and guests to move around. Click here to find out more.

Damage

In hospitals and schools, closed fire doors can easily sustain damage. Stretchers, electronic equipment, wheelchairs, beds — a lot of cumbersome apparatus needs to be quickly transported around a hospital. And children can be a little heavy-handed (or footed) with doors!

The Royal Liverpool University Hospital found its heavy fire doors were making life difficult for staff with stretchers. Click here to find out how they kept the doors open safely. 

Isolation

A closed, heavy fire door can be a mental barrier, as well a physical one. For patients in hospital, or residents in care homes, a closed door to their room can lead to feelings of isolation, particularly if they are unable to move around without assistance.

Can you imagine feeling like a prisoner in your own home?

This was the case for an elderly lady last year in Ireland living in sheltered accommodation. She told her befriender that if it wasn’t for her fire doors, she would be able to leave her home by herself. She couldn’t open them as they were too heavy and made her feel isolated.

Fire doors make access difficult. In residential care and sheltered accommodation, fire doors can create feelings of loneliness as people find it difficult to open them. This leads to residents becoming trapped and forces them to become dependent on staff. If fire evacuations don’t go to plan, this can cause serious problems.

It’s not just those who are elderly or have mobility issues that are affected. It can also be the case in university halls of residence, where socialising with fellow residents is vital when you’re new and need to make friends.

The fire doors at LWPHomes meant that residents with limited mobility always needed assistance from staff to get back to their rooms. Click here to find out how residents gained more independence.

Injuries

Younger school pupils or people with limited mobility may struggle to open heavy doors, and could be injured when doors close quickly. Closed fire doors can also be dangerous for staff at hotels or workers in an office carrying hot drinks or food to another room.

Fires don’t happen every day so fire doors are used as normal doors most of the time. As they are heavier than a standard door, there is the potential for injuries. If hands or other parts of your body get trapped, injuries can be severe.

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Do you struggle with your fire doors at work like these people?

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They can trap people as they’re too heavy to open:

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The slamming of fire doors at Newport Junior School was causing disruption and damage to the doors and staff were worried about possible injuries. Click here to find out how they took the weight out of the fire doors.

Wedging is not the answer

With all of these issues, it’s no wonder that for an easier life, people look for ways to keep their fire doors open.

Fire doors are safety devices which are there to help protect lives. However, regulations state they are meant to be kept closed in case of a fire. This means people might wedge them open, which is dangerous and can result in devastating consequences. Here are some examples that make a fire door useless.

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This is a classic example, a fire door being propped open with a door wedge. In the event of a fire, this will allow fire and smoke to spread quickly throughout the building. A huge risk.

 

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You won’t be able to eat your way out of this one quickly! Blocking fire doors, even if it is some tasty pepperoni pizza won’t help if there is a fire.

 

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Spot the fire door and win a prize!
Creative? Yes. An effective and quick means of escape route? Not really. Masking your escape routes can lengthen the time your occupants can leave the building in an emergency.

 

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This building took one step further, getting rid of their fire door completely! As you know, this is hugely dangerous if a fire occurs.

 

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I’ll let you make your mind up about this one!

The safe solution

Sometimes it’s easy to forget how our everyday schedules can affect fire safety, but there are simple ways that fire doors can be kept open safely, so you can enable greater access without the worry of non-compliance.

Closed fire doors perform a vital function, but being able to keep them open improves access and quality of life for everyone. Fitting a door retainer that closes doors automatically in the case of an emergency offers peace of mind and easy compliance with regulations.

Images courtesy of Theodore Firedoor.
To see more, visit https://www.facebook.com/theodorefiredoor

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