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25 years of fire safety compliance

25 years of fire safety compliance

In September 2020 we achieved our one-millionth Dorgard sale!

Over the past 25 years, Dorgard has been keeping buildings, businesses and people safe from the dangerous consequences of door wedging. Dorgard is an acoustically-activated door retainer that holds doors open and when the fire alarm sounds, will release and allow the door to close, preventing the spread of fire. Since its launch, two more versions have been introduced to the Fireco range, to help customers even further with their fire safety compliance.

Fireco started as a small business founded in Brighton and is now selling products worldwide. But, how did we come this far?

Focus on compliance

Dorgard was originally created with compliance and fire safety in mind and this has laid the foundations for everything else we have done since – even our motto becoming “compliance made easy”.

Over the years, we have worked with countless installers, fire safety consultants and associations, in order to ensure our products are suitable for all types of building scenarios. This led to the development of Dorgard SmartSound and Dorgard Pro. There are three different versions of Dorgard to meet different compliance requirements, Dorgard Pro being suitable for Cat A.

In more recent years, we have partnered with door manufacturers to carry out burns testing so that we can reassure customers, especially councils and housing associations, that Dorgard is safe to use and will not affect the fire rating of a fire door.

Meeting the needs of customers

Making fire safety easy is another big factor for us. Dorgard can be installed by almost anyone in under 5 minutes and its supporting documents are easy to understand. However, if preferred we do offer an installer service.

Fire safety is at the forefront of all product benefits, but this is not the only problem that we can help customers with. By installing a Dorgard, you can also improve ventilation and access throughout a building, both of which can be invaluable for the user.

Manufacturing a high-quality product that meets standards

When Dorgard was first introduced to the market, there was no guidance available for how and where acoustically actuated devices should be used. As is often the case, it took some time before relevant standards were updated. BS7273-4 now offers clear guidance which allows Dorgard and Dorgard SmartSound to be used as part of a Standard or Indirect installation.

One of the main reasons acoustic devices aren’t considered suitable for Critical Installations (i.e on fire doors on an emergency escape route) is because there is no direct connection between the device and the fire alarm panel, so if the alarm went into a ‘fault’ state, the retainers wouldn’t release to close the door.

This level of Critical compliance can now be achieved wirelessly, by using Dorgard Pro, utilising a hardwired radio transmitter which allows doors to close on either a ‘fire’ or ‘fault’ signal. This means that we can now offer a version of Dorgard based on the level of compliance needed for each door.

British Standards only give guidance on where a product can be used and how it should be actuated. For performance, we need to look at different guidance. All versions of Dorgard are tested to EN1155 which is the harmonized European Standard that gives the product it’s CE mark and classifies door closers using a 6 digit coding system, with each digit referring to a particular feature of the product measured against the standard’s performance requirements. This testing really looks at mechanical reliability, it looks at how many cycles the device can operate on before it starts having problems. 50,000 cycles are the open set close requirement – At Fireco, we actually put our products through 20% more testing than we’re required to.

As previously mentioned, we have completed EN1634-1 testing as part of a complete Doorset with several fire door manufacturers. This means that customers have the option of having a complete doorset fitted with a Dorgard already installed. This testing is vital in giving building managers the evidence they need to show that having our products installed to the door does not damage its integrity.

Ensuring that our products are compliant and meet the needs of our customers, we continually work on our manufacturing operations and product testing. If you have any questions about whether our products are suitable for your building, call us on 01273 320650.

Co-written by Sasha Brigden and Pete Davies.

Some Of Our Door Closers Are Missing

Some Of Our Door Closers Are Missing

Whoa, Heavy!

For those of us that know our RRFSO’s from our BS7273-4’s, there’s no question that fire doors save lives and that the weight associated with operating a fire door is a necessary evil, a symptom of those innocuous-looking closers that ensure doors can shut safely. But when we think about who uses those doors on a daily basis, are we expecting too much from industry outsiders? We know that effort is made to educate ‘non-fire safety’ people on the importance of fire doors, but it’s my belief that for most, this simply goes in one ear and out the other. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think for a second this is a deliberate and malicious attempt to ignore sound, tried and tested guidance. I just think that for most people that use fire doors on a daily basis, fire protection is something that the fire and rescue services do, rather than something they should be mindful of when, say, opening the door to their flat.

Ahh, the humble flat entry door. Give a thought for this oft-overlooked bit of kit. You and I know that a lot of science goes into the design of flat entry doors to ensure maximum fire protection and that each installation is guided by years of experience and best practice guidance. You and I know how important it is that the door can close safely and that its integrity is not compromised in order to protect the lives of people and property. But does the resident know this? And, more importantly, do they really care?

Disengaged door closers are becoming a massive problem within social housing and general-purpose flats. For most residents, flat entry doors are nothing more than a barrier to their home, a hurdle to overcome . . . bullies. And what happens? Out comes the screwdriver and ratchet set and off comes the closer and hey-presto! Suddenly that barrier is beaten, the hurdle hurdled. Like magic, the door to their home is suddenly lighter and easier to use!

 

The Extent of the Problem

A recent conversation with a customer at a local authority in the South of England highlighted this issue to me. A recent survey of 6000 flat entry doors in general-purpose flats, found that 1700 doors had disengaged or removed closers. That’s over 28% of their doors being made non-compliant. Another customer, a Housing Association, told us recently that a staggering 40% of closers were missing from flat entry doors in general needs accommodation. And in a recent analysis of Grenfell survivors’ statements to the inquiry, it is suggested that as many as 56% of doors had missing self-closing devices.

Evidently, it’s time to start using free-swing devices on flat entry doors in general needs flats. It’s clear there’s a massive risk of doors being made non-compliant purely because of how heavy they are. But in order to do that, we need a way to actuate the device so that it can close in an emergency. How do we do that when there is no fire alarm?

In most general needs blocks, each flat is designed to be a 60-minute fire resisting compartment, using a stay-put policy. There will likely be zero to very minimal BS5839-1 fire detection or alarm system in ‘communal’ areas (as this would encourage people to evacuate rather than stay put and could hinder access for the Fire & Rescue Service) with BS5839-6 detectors in the flats themselves, where, let’s not forget, the highest risk of fire comes from.
In order to mitigate the risk of doors being made non-compliant, many of our customers have used Freedor SmartSound, ensuring that during installation the device is adjusted and tested so that it will react to the sound of the BS5839-6 detector. And we can even integrate Freedor Pro, actuated by a radio transmitter, with other detection equipment commonly found in blocks of flats such as sprinkler or AOV systems.

The issue of how to effectively deal with the problem of disengaged and tampered closers is a head-scratcher, for sure, and I by no means am suggesting that we’ve completely solved it. Thats why I want to hear from you. If you have any thoughts or comments on how we as an industry can deal with this problem, I’d love to hear from you. Feel free to send your thoughts to me at pete.davies@fireco.uk and lets see if we can figure this one out, together.

How do fire doors affect the lives of care home residents?

How do fire doors affect the lives of care home residents?

“Approximately half of those killed by fires in the home are aged 65 or over” states the North Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Service*. Older people are often more vulnerable when it comes to accidents and emergencies which places a huge importance on fire safety in care homes. Vulnerability can be down to various reasons, such as, mobility issues, reduced senses, such as not being able to smell, and health issues that can lead to a lack of awareness, such as dementia.

Self closing fire doors have a valuable role in protecting residents in the case of a fire. They create a fire safe compartment which prevents fire from spreading rapidly through a building and allowing time for a safe escape, or rescue from the fire brigade. However, in the daily lives of elderly residents, these heavy self closing doors can be very problematic.

Here are some of the ways that fire doors can affect the lives of residents:

  • Some residents may be injured by fire doors closing too quickly on them, causing them to fall or get bruises.
  • Residents in wheelchairs, on crutches or have temporary mobility issues, may find that they have trouble with access.
  • Residents may feel isolated or lonely due to their door being constantly closed, especially if they are living alone.
  • Due to the weight of fire doors they often slam shut. This may be disruptive, and could even wake residents up during the night.
  • Residents may want to open the doors and windows to allow fresh air to flow through their living space, especially if they struggle to go out. However, closed fire doors will limit the ventilation in the room.
  • Fire doors can be very heavy, meaning some residents will need assistance getting through. This can reduce independence and they may even feel trapped in their own home if they can’t get through the doors alone.

These reasons could lead to residents in sheltered housing and care homes to wedge open their fire doors. However, fire doors can only serve their purpose if they are shut.

Click the tabs below for examples of how wedged/closed fire doors have changed the outcome of fires in care homes.

**In 2005, Rhos Priory care home suffered an electrical fire in the laundry room. Residents were told by staff to remain in the rooms, but as the fire got out of hand all 35 residents had to be evacuated. Four of them had to be taken to hospital after the fire, but luckily were discharged the same day.

When the firefighters entered the building they found the self closers in the fire doors had been tampered with, stopping them from closing properly. There were also multiple wedged open doors throughout the building. This prevented effective compartmentation and allowed for the smoke and fire to spread. The care home manager was fined for failing to keep residents safe.

***In 2014, Donwell House care home were fined £380,000 after a woman was hospitalised due to a fire. Following an investigation, the Fire & Rescue Service found that the fire and smoke had spread from a bedroom through to the hallway because some of the doors were wedged open. This meant that the residents were not able to use the corridor for a means of escape and one resident had to be rescued from a first floor window.

If the fire doors were not wedged open, the fire would have been contained in one room which would have prevented the fire from spreading.

****In 2015, a fire broke out at Summerlands Care Home due to a tumble dryer fault. Staff evacuated 17 residents and firefighters evacuated 6. When the fire service went to tackle the fire they noticed that it had been contained due to all the fire doors being closed. This meant that the blaze could be extinguished and damage was minimised. Not only this, all the residents were safely evacuated.

This is a perfect example of how fire doors play a vital role in saving lives during a fire.

Click here to find out how staff safely evacuated all residents with the help of Fireco products.

Wedging doors open is illegal and can lead to major damage to property, business disruption, large fines and even fatalities. Fire doors can be seen as problematic in the daily lives of residents, however in the long run can save lives. There are legal and safe ways to hold open fire doors, whilst also empowering elderly residents.

*https://www.northyorksfire.gov.uk/communitysafety/elderly-vulnerable

**https://www.dailypost.co.uk/news/north-wales-news/boss-fined-after-care-home-2891676

***https://www.ifsecglobal.com/fire-news/5-care-home-operators-regret-fire-safety-negligence/

****https://www.hantsfire.gov.uk/incidents-news-and-events/news-releases/2015/six-rescued-from-care-home/

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25 years of fire safety compliance

25 years of fire safety compliance

Since the launch of Dorgard 25 years ago, we have introduced two more versions offering you different levels of fire safety compliance so you can ditch the door wedge!

Some Of Our Door Closers Are Missing

Some Of Our Door Closers Are Missing

For those of us that know our RRFSO’s from our BS7273-4’s, there’s no question that fire doors save lives and that the weight associated with operating a fire door is a necessary evil, a symptom of those innocuous-looking closers that ensure doors can shut safely. But when we think about who uses those doors on a daily basis, are we expecting too much from industry outsiders?

Why do students wedge open fire doors?

Why do students wedge open fire doors?

Universities and halls of residence have a higher than normal risk of fire. With 80% of students admitting to regularly taking part in activities that risk fire in their accommodation*. One element of fire safety that often seems to be considered as more of a hindrance than help, are fire doors.

Fire doors are a vital part of fire safety, especially for places of multiple occupancy. They compartmentalise a room by trapping a fire for 30-60 minutes. This allows more time for the fire service to reach the fire and extinguish it before it spreads through the whole building. If the fire doors in university halls are wedged open, a fire will spread extremely quickly, putting lives at risk and causing damage to housing.

So why do students wedge open fire doors?

Social reasons- Students have left home for the first time and will want to meet as many people as possible, especially the ones in their living area. An ‘open door policy’ may be applied so that they seem more welcoming to new friends. If every door in their flat is going to close automatically, the students will wedge them open.

Practical purposes- Especially on moving in day, students will want ease of access to their room in order to move everything in. Some fire officers will allow a temporary wedging to help with this. However, students may feel this to be more convenient than their door being closed, so are likely to continue using a wedge.

To reduce noise- There is a lot of human traffic going through university halls, meaning that the fire doors will be closing regularly. Fire doors are very heavy and some door closers cause them to slam shut. Consequently, leading to students wedging them open to minimise noise.

To improve access- Heavy fire doors with automatic door closers can be problematic for people with mobility issues. This may lead to doors being wedged open for ease of access around their flat.

May be unaware- Students have been living in a home environment where fire safety may not be a concern and fire doors may not have been around. Because of this students might not realise the important role that fire doors have.

Influence of alcohol- Throughout university, and especially freshers week, there will be many parties and nights out- usually with drinking involved. This can be where risky behaviour is increased. For example, 50% of students admit to cooking whilst under the influence*, also known as ‘drunk frying’. Along with this comes drying clothes on electric heaters and smoking inside.

On top of this, students may also take batteries from fire alarms, and disable door closers by damaging them.

In October 2015, a fire spread through university accommodation in Bristol. The fire was started by an unattended pan of oil left on a stove and it got so severe that all students in the building had to be evacuated. After the fire had been controlled, the building had been deemed unsafe to live, meaning over 100 students were rehomed. No students were harmed from this incident because all the fire alarms went off and everyone evacuated.

The video also shows the massive role that fire doors play. You can see that the fire door on one side is completely damaged by the fire and one side is still mostly intact. This is a demonstration of how fire doors compartmentalise a building and help trap a fire to reduce or slow spread.

A students priorities are not always in line with fire safety strategies. Students feel in their daily lives that they need to use wedges under their doors because they have no other option. However, there are safer ways to hold open doors. Hold-open devices and free swing door closers can be applied in order to improve access and ventilation, whilst complying with regulations and keeping the building fire safe.

*https://web.zurich.co.uk/municipal/products-and-services/your-sector/further-and-higher-education/student-fires

**Video https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-bristol-34513810

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25 years of fire safety compliance

25 years of fire safety compliance

Since the launch of Dorgard 25 years ago, we have introduced two more versions offering you different levels of fire safety compliance so you can ditch the door wedge!

Some Of Our Door Closers Are Missing

Some Of Our Door Closers Are Missing

For those of us that know our RRFSO’s from our BS7273-4’s, there’s no question that fire doors save lives and that the weight associated with operating a fire door is a necessary evil, a symptom of those innocuous-looking closers that ensure doors can shut safely. But when we think about who uses those doors on a daily basis, are we expecting too much from industry outsiders?

How to improve fire door access

How to improve fire door access

Closed fire doors save lives. They prevent the spread of fire through a building, keeping people safe while they evacuate. But closed fire doors can hinder access through a building. How can you solve five of the biggest issues with closed fire doors?

Heavy doors

Fire doors are heavy — they need to be to be able to 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.

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.

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!

Isolation

A closed, heavy fire door can be a mental barrier, as well as 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.

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 can lead to residents feeling trapped, forcing 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.

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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Wedging fire doors 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.

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, they prevent fires from spreading. Being able to keep them open safely improves access and quality of life for everyone. Fitting a door retainer that holds doors open and allows them to close automatically in the case of an emergency brings peace of mind and easy compliance with regulations.

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25 years of fire safety compliance

25 years of fire safety compliance

Since the launch of Dorgard 25 years ago, we have introduced two more versions offering you different levels of fire safety compliance so you can ditch the door wedge!

Some Of Our Door Closers Are Missing

Some Of Our Door Closers Are Missing

For those of us that know our RRFSO’s from our BS7273-4’s, there’s no question that fire doors save lives and that the weight associated with operating a fire door is a necessary evil, a symptom of those innocuous-looking closers that ensure doors can shut safely. But when we think about who uses those doors on a daily basis, are we expecting too much from industry outsiders?

Are fire doors and access a contradiction?

Are fire doors and access a contradiction?

Make no mistake, fire doors save lives and property. Not just a regular door, fire doors are a building’s armour in a fire. They block fire and smoke from rapidly spreading so people can escape.

But what about when there is no fire? When you’re working in a busy building, closed fire doors can be in the way; they are heavy and a nuisance.

With this in mind, coupled with the fact that over a quarter of people do not know it is illegal to wedge or prop open a fire door, it’s not surprising that you can find this happening…

11

This is a typical example of a fire door being propped open with a door wedge. If a fire breaks out, fire and smoke will spread quickly throughout the building.

Not just your standard wedge, fire doors can be propped open with anything.
fire-doors-wedged-open
Don’t have anything else to hold that pesky door open?  I guess this will do…
4
Life is easier if a fire door can be held open, to allow freedom of movement and circulation of air. However, for fire doors to work, they need to be closed.

But, because of the need for access, people will always look for ways to hold open a fire door. One of the most common solutions found is the door wedge, which also happens to be one of the greatest hazards in fire safety.

As well as threatening lives and property, wedging open a fire door can lead to consequences such as fines, closed businesses, damaged reputations and even prison.

If you’re unsure about what to do regarding fire safety regulations, don’t worry. We are here to help. We understand that convenience is important in a busy environment, which is why we provide simple and trusted solutions to the problem of wedged open fire doors.

You might also like

25 years of fire safety compliance

25 years of fire safety compliance

Since the launch of Dorgard 25 years ago, we have introduced two more versions offering you different levels of fire safety compliance so you can ditch the door wedge!

Some Of Our Door Closers Are Missing

Some Of Our Door Closers Are Missing

For those of us that know our RRFSO’s from our BS7273-4’s, there’s no question that fire doors save lives and that the weight associated with operating a fire door is a necessary evil, a symptom of those innocuous-looking closers that ensure doors can shut safely. But when we think about who uses those doors on a daily basis, are we expecting too much from industry outsiders?

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