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Win a Dorgard SmartSound this Fire Door Safety Week

Win a Dorgard SmartSound this Fire Door Safety Week

To support Fire Door Safety Week’s campaign to banish the dangerous fire door wedge forever, Fireco is giving away 10 Dorgard SmartSounds.

To be in with a chance of winning your free Dorgard SmartSound, tweet us pictures of any wedged open fire doors you’ve spotted. Enter as many times as you wish, and tweet the images to @Fireco using #ClickItKickIt

The #ClickItKickIt campaign asks people that have spotted a wedged open fire door to click it (take a picture) and then kick it (remove the wedge).

Don’t use Twitter? No problem. Just send us an email with your photo attached. Send your entry to marketing@fireco.uk

We’ll announce the winners on Twitter or notify you by email.

Life-saving technology

Dorgard SmartSound holds your fire doors open legally and safely, releasing them to close when the fire alarm sounds. It has improved noise recognition with SmartSound technology, so can distinguish between your fire alarm and common background noises, such as vacuum cleaners.

Legally holding your fire door open protects it from damage and prolongs its life. As the door is automatically released when the alarm sounds, the spread of fire and smoke is prevented.

Fire Door Safety Week runs from the 24th to the 30th September 2018. It raises awareness of the critical role of fire doors, particularly of the importance of good installation and maintenance. Building owners and users should check the operation and condition of their fire doors and report those that are unsatisfactory.

Click here for more information on Fire Door Safety Week.

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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 sheltered housing residents are damaging fire door closers

Why sheltered housing residents are damaging fire door closers

Visiting customers over the past few weeks, something that has come up in conversation is the problem of residents damaging or disabling fire door closers. This is not only a safety issue, it invalidates insurance and can lead to big fines for non-compliance with fire regulations.

In sheltered housing, many front doors are fire doors and therefore fitted with door closers. This ensures the door will be closed in the event of a fire, and the spread of fire and smoke will be prevented. Residents will then have more time to evacuate safely, or can remain in a fire safe compartment until the emergency services arrive.

This is particularly important in sheltered accommodation as older residents may have slower reaction times when the fire alarm sounds. Those that have mobility issues will take longer to evacuate.

However self-closing fire doors are heavy and difficult to open. Residents may find it difficult to get in and out of their flats.

The frustration of struggling to open their front door has led some residents to break or disengage door closers. Though understandable, this is dangerous and against fire regulations. If a fire does break out, an open fire door will cause fire and smoke to spread rapidly, putting residents at risk.

To solve this problem, councils often install unnecessary, expensive automatic door operators for these residents to use. A much cheaper option is Freedor.

Residents of Adlington House improved safety and access in their apartment block with Freedor. Click here to find out more

Freedor is a free-swing door closer that takes the weight and closing force out of fire doors. It has built-in technology to automatically close the door when the fire alarm sounds. It’s fully compliant with fire regulations and solves the problem of residents disabling door closers.

As Freedor has removed the weight and closing force of the fire door, all the stress of dealing with fire doors has been removed, and residents can come and go as they please.

Freedor is wireless, so can quickly and easily be fitted to existing sheltered housing units. A key advantage with the wireless systems is the lack of disruption. Freedor can be fitted with residents still in their flats, with minimal restorative works to walls and doors required.

Freedor also safely and legally holds fire doors open at any angle, so if a resident wishes to have their door open, they can.

It’s important that sheltered housing residents do not have their quality of life impeded by the need for fire safety. Fitting Freedor offers them the freedom to live their lives as they wish, without worry.

Main image courtesy of Fire Door Inspectors @firedoorguy

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Fire warden checklist

Fire warden checklist

Fire wardens have an important role to play in any business. They’re not only responsible for helping people evacuate during a fire drill, they also assist in emergency procedure planning and fire prevention.

In 2017-18 there were 11,141 accidental fires in non-domestic properties. Most fires are preventable, and fire wardens have a part to play in day-to-day fire safety, checking for any fire hazards or risks.

Have you been given the role of fire warden? Our handy checklist will give you the rundown of everything you need to know.

What are the duties of a fire warden in the workplace?

Emergency planning

In any business, the person known as the Responsible Person has legal responsibility for fire safety. The Responsible Person is usually the employer and can assign fire safety duties to other people, including fire wardens.

As a fire warden you may be asked to carry out a fire risk assessment.This has five steps:

  1. Identify fire hazards
  2. Identify anyone at risk
  3. Evaluate, remove or reduce the risk
  4. Record findings, prepare an emergency plan and provide training
  5. Regularly revisit the fire risk assessment in case it needs updating.

Even if you’re not responsible for completing the fire risk assessment, it’s important to keep these steps in mind when considering fire safety in your building.

Our blog has more detailed information about fire risk assessments.

Fire prevention and safety

Day-to-day, fire wardens can check the following:

  • Fire doors are undamaged and not wedged open. If they are wedged open, remove the wedges. If closed fire doors cause access issues, install hold-open devices that release doors to close on the sound of the fire alarm
  • Emergency escape routes are clearly signed
  • Fire exits and escape routes are not blocked
  • Firefighting equipment, e.g. fire extinguishers and fire blankets, are stored correctly and not missing or damaged
  • Emergency lighting is working
  • Rubbish is safely stored away and not overflowing
  • Sockets are not overloaded and electrical equipment does not have frayed wiring

Other responsibilities:

  • Lead fire drills at least once a year
  • Fire safety training for all new staff
  • Ensure everyone is familiar with the evacuation procedure
  • Make sure fire alarms and smoke alarms are tested weekly

Taking charge in an emergency

When the fire alarm sounds:

  • Phone emergency services if required
  • Direct everyone to the nearest exit, not using the lifts
  • Assist those that need it, e.g. wheelchair users
  • Fight fire if safe to do so
  • Check everywhere to ensure all have evacuated, including toilets
  • Close doors
  • Guide everyone to assembly area and roll call
  • Ensure everyone is accounted for

How many fire wardens do we need?

In a normal risk premises the following applies:

Fewer than 20 employees: at least one fire warden

20-75 employees: at least two fire wardens

For every additional 75: one additional fire warden

It’s important to remember that all shifts must be adequately covered, so you may have to nominate additional fire wardens to ensure there are enough for each shift.

For higher risk premises, such as care homes, more fire wardens are required. Specific details are available in our care home fire safety blog.

Further information

Fire statistics data tables

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Germgard: Opening your building to safer measures 

Germgard: Opening your building to safer measures 

After Boris Johnson laid out his roadmap for getting England’s services and institutions back open, Chancellor Rishi Sunak declared he was providing £408 million in a support package designed to aid the struggling cultural sector. As museums, galleries, cinemas and libraries prepare to reopen over the coming weeks, how can Germgard and other Fireco products help with their hygiene control strategy?

Are you in control of the fire safety compliance for your property portfolio?

Are you in control of the fire safety compliance for your property portfolio?

With the evolution of regulations and requirements for fire safety in social housing, it may seem like there is a lot to keep on top of and checking all buildings efficiently can be more challenging. This raises the question: what can we do to keep on top of the ever-changing demands of a compliant and fire safe building?

Four common causes of fire

Four common causes of fire

Most fires are preventable. It’s important to explore the most common causes of fire so that the appropriate prevention measures can be put in place.

How do fires start?

For a fire to start it needs a source of ignition, a source of fuel and a source of oxygen. For example, if a smoker falls asleep with a cigarette still lit, and sets fire to the sofa, the cigarette is the source of ignition, the material on the sofa is the source of fuel and the air is the source of oxygen. Unchecked, this fire will spread quickly.

To prevent fire, sources of ignition, fuel and oxygen need to be kept apart as much as possible. Obviously this is difficult for oxygen, as it is in the air all around us, but it’s important to always think carefully about what possible sources of ignition are in your building, as well as thinking about what will allow a fire to spread once it has been ignited.

Common causes of fire

According to Fire and Rescue statistics from 2016/17, the four most common causes of accidental fires in non-dwelling properties were:

1. Faulty appliances and leads
2. Faulty fuel supply
3. Misuse of equipment or appliances
4. Placing articles too close to heat

Faulty appliances and leads

Examples of this most common cause of fire include:

  • Frayed wiring
  • Overloaded sockets
  • Old appliances
  • Damaged plugs
  • Faulty appliances

Prevention tips

Damaged wiring can overheat and cause sparks. If you spot frayed wiring or overloaded sockets, these need to be replaced/removed. It’s important that appliances are regularly checked by an electrician. Annual portable appliance testing (PAT) needs to be done. Replace any faulty equipment and keep an eye out for any product recalls.

Faulty fuel supply

Examples include:

  • Gas leaks
  • Electrical supply problem
  • Defective fuel supply to an electrical appliance
  • Leaking fuel e.g. petrol in a garage

Prevention tips

Regular servicing of all electricity and gas appliances is essential. Make sure everything works correctly, and if not you’ll need to replace with new and safe appliances. Make sure any repair work is carried out by a qualified heating engineer or electrician.

Any spills must be cleaned thoroughly, particularly if hot work takes place in your workplace.

Misuse of equipment or appliances

Examples of this include:

  • Spills on electrical equipment
  • Phones left to charge too long
  • Portable heaters left on
  • Dirty ovens and microwaves
  • Lint tray in tumble dryer

Prevention tips

Switch off electrical equipment when not in use, at the wall if possible. Unplug if you can. Don’t put something hot near something that can catch fire and keep drinks away from electrical equipment to avoid dangerous spills.

In the kitchen, make sure cooking is never left unattended. Keep ovens and microwaves clean, as grease and dirt can cause fires. Toasters often set off the fire alarm unnecessarily so keep these on a low browning setting and regularly empty the crumb tray.

Make sure appliances are regularly checked and serviced. Tumble dryers are a common source of fire, so clean the lint tray daily.

Keep areas tidy, as dirt and dust on electrical equipment can cause it to overheat. Make sure your building is cleaned regularly.

Placing articles too close to heat

Examples include:

  • Tea towel near cooking appliances
  • Candles knocked over
  • Tin foil at bottom of oven
  • Clothes on heater

Prevention tips

Keep in mind that It’s not just heaters and ovens that generate heat, electrical equipment does too.

Ensure paper is placed or stored away from anything that generates heat. Don’t put clothes on heating devices. Avoid using tin foil on or near the bottom of the oven as this can ignite. Common sense is all you need for this one, if it’s something that gets hot, store anything flammable away from it.

Deliberate fires

It’s also important to consider the possibility of arson. Install sprinkler systems where possible, and have CCTV as a deterrent. Don’t give intruders anything they can set fire to; keep rubbish locked away and inaccessible.

Before leaving for the day, make sure your building is securely locked, and that all windows are closed.

Examples of fuel sources in the workplace

  • Paper
  • Textiles (curtains, carpets etc)
  • Rubbish and waste
  • Flammable substances (paint, cleaning materials, solvents)

Safety measures to prevent fire

Flammable substances should be safely stored away from anything that can cause fire to spread, preferably in a locked cupboard.

Don’t forget about the dangers of smoking. Keep the smoking area well away from the main building and provide a place for cigarettes to be thoroughly extinguished.

Make sure your business has an up-to-date fire risk assessment. This includes a written record of potential sources of ignition, fuel and oxygen and how you can reduce or remove any risks.

By keeping your risk assessment up-to-date, and running regular fire safety training, you can keep everyone informed and safe.

Further information

Fire and rescue statistics

Need straightforward advice on fire regulations?

Is it illegal to wedge open a fire door?

Is it illegal to wedge open a fire door?

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 a fine or even a prison sentence.

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 wedge prevents a door from closing, which means 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.

Invalidating insurance

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 release them to close automatically when the fire alarm is activated.

When fire doors are wedged or propped open, businesses are at risk of fines, but more seriously, it puts people’s lives in danger. Don’t pay the price of the door wedge.

We can help you kick the wedge

How to prevent the spread of fire

How to prevent the spread of fire

After the tragedy at Grenfell Tower, fire safety is an issue on everyone’s minds. Questions are being asked about inadequate safety measures causing fire to spread rapidly through buildings with large numbers of occupants.

The Grenfell Tower investigation is ongoing, but clearly fire protection measures either failed or were not there in the first place. It is important to address how disasters like this can be avoided in the future.

Keeping fire contained

To prevent a fire from spreading, different sections of a building must be built as fire-resistant compartments. This means they will resist the passage of fire for a specified period of time. If a fire is contained in a compartment, it won’t spread to other parts of the building. People can evacuate safely and firefighters can extinguish the fire.

In a tower block, for instance, each flat should be a separate, fire resistant compartment. This would ensure that if one resident started a fire, it would not spread to other flats for a specified amount of time (usually 30 minutes).

Day-to-day, the most important way for a building’s occupants to keep a building safe is through keeping fire doors closed. Fire doors are specially made to resist fire for a certain amount of time and keep the fire contained within that compartment. If the door is open, the fire will spread rapidly. This is why wedging open fire doors is so dangerous.

Compartmentation keeps a fire contained, giving time for emergency services to deal with the situation. People should also be able to evacuate safely and damage to a building is minimised.

Make sure you are aware of holes and gaps in the walls from installing piping and wiring through a building. When you drill holes through a building to run cables and those holes aren’t filled in, you severely compromise any fire safety plans in place. If a fire starts, it will spread through any gaps, igniting anything flammable in its path.

Keep people informed

Hand in hand with compartmentation is the need for all building users to have clear information on what is the safest action to take, whether that is to stay put and await the fire service, or evacuate safely.

It is important to note that a building’s occupants should only be advised to stay put if compartmentation measures are in place. If fire doors, and fire resistant wall and ceiling protection materials are inadequate, it is NOT SAFE for building users to be advised to stay put. Under these circumstances, occupants should evacuate as quickly as possible.

Evacuation routes need to be clearly marked, all building users, including visitors, need to be informed of fire safety procedures, and information has to be readily available at all times so people can check anything if they are unsure.

All landlords, building owners, managers, and other responsible people have a clear responsibility under the law that their premises meet all fire safety requirements. Buildings must be effectively maintained to provide protection in the event of a fire.

A thorough risk assessment must be carried out to make sure that all buildings have the correct fire safety measures in place. When regulations are breached, lives are at risk.

Lessons from Lakanal House

Unfortunately, lessons were not learned from the Lakanal House tower block fire. Southwark Council was fined £570,000 for a 2009 tower block fire in which six people were killed. The London Fire Brigade brought the prosecution against the council as Lakanal House in Camberwell, south London, had a number of structural and safety issues which breached fire regulations.

During the investigation into the cause of the fire, it was revealed that 999 operators had told residents to stay in their flats. This meant that some residents were trapped when the fire spread more rapidly than anticipated.

Stay put was the wrong advice

Emergency service operators were rightly following the ‘stay put’ procedure for tower blocks which has been in place since the 1990s. When dealing with emergency situations, 999 operators offer advice based on the assumption that buildings have the correct fire safety measures in place, for example that fire doors would be closed and not wedged open and fire resistant materials would be incorporated into the building’s walls and ceilings. These measures prevent flames and smoke from spreading.

However, this was not the case at Lakanal House. There were inadequate compartmentation measures in place including an absence of strips or seals on doors in the buildings, a lack of cavity barriers in the ceilings and inadequate fire protection to the timber stairs in the common corridor.

At the inquest, Peter Holland, Chief Fire and Rescue advisor for the Communities and Local Government department, stated that correct compartmentation is vital for the ‘stay put’ policy in tower blocks to be safe. This would have kept the fire contained for one hour while the emergency services dealt with the situation. As the correct measures were not in place in Lakanal House, the fire spread at an alarmingly fast rate.

Due to the unprecedented nature of the situation, there was no clear guidance for operators on what was the safest action to take for residents of Lakanal House. According to Peter Holland, this would have been for residents to be told to evacuate if they felt they were in jeopardy.

Who is responsible?

Dan Daly, London Fire Brigade’s assistant commissioner for fire safety, said: “All landlords, including large housing providers, such as councils and housing associations, have a clear responsibility under the law that their premises meet all fire safety requirements are effectively maintained to provide protection in the event of a fire and keep their residents safe.”

It is essential that risk assessments are carried out to make sure that buildings have the correct fire safety measures in place. Closed fire doors and other fire-resistant structures are vital to prevent the spread of fire in a building, so the fire can be contained and residents can stay safe or evacuate. When these regulations are breached, lives are at risk.

Need straightforward advice on fire regulations?

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