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?
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. This made it very difficult for them to move around, and impeded their independence. The building’s management installed Freedor which allowed doors to be held open legally, but also took the weight out of the door when closed. Residents were able to open doors without trouble, helping them to get about day to day.
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. White Dorgard units were unobtrusive on the hotel’s traditional doors, and meant doors could remain open when required, but would always automatically close in the event of a fire.
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. The doors were also being damaged. Once Freedor was installed, the doors were able to remain open, preventing damage as well as ensuring easy access for staff, patients and visitors.
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. This 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. This took away some of the freedom for residents, as well as taking staff away from where they were needed elsewhere. After installing Dorgard units, residents could move around easily without assistance, socialise and not have to worry about the barrier of a heavy fire door.
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.
The slamming of fire doors at Newport Junior School was causing disruption and damage to the doors and staff were worried about possible injuries. This led to doors being illegally wedged open. Freedor was installed so doors could be held open when required, and also to take the weight away from closed fire doors making them much easier to open.
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.