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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.

“Protect your business by being proactive” – Q&A with Darren Young

“Protect your business by being proactive” – Q&A with Darren Young

For Fire Door Safety Week 2020, we contacted Darren Young Managing Director at 1st Aid Fire to discuss all things fire doors!

Darren has worked in the fire industry for over 30 years. He followed in the footsteps of his father, brothers and cousins which led him to begin his career in the Royal Air Force Fire Service at 20 years of age. He is now Managing Director for 1st Aid Fire who specialise in first aid training, fire training and fire risk assessments.

From the opinion of someone who works in fire safety, why are fire doors so important?

Fire doors complete compartmentation and when fitted and maintained correctly they will help save lives and property. Too many people see fire doors as being normal doors which leads to them thinking it’s ok to wedge/prop them open. A fire door is only a fire door if it is shut. If a fire door is wedged open, it is just a hole in the wall allowing a fire to spread. Fire doors save lives – FACT!

What importance do you think Fire Door Safety Week has for not only the fire industry but also the users of fire doors?

We all know that fire safety can be a complex subject and Fire Door Safety Week gives people the chance to access information they may not have necessarily considered before. People can take part in events, some of which are CPD, and then they can apply the information they’ve gained to carry out checks with the correct knowledge. The fire industry is a fast-paced industry with new products coming out all the time. FDSW gives service providers the opportunity to showcase new products for all users to see so they can decide which option is best for them.

What are the most common fire door compliance issues you come across on the job?

Once a door is fitted correctly, general maintenance should keep a fire door compliant for quite some time. The common compliance issues I come across are mostly due to fire doors not being maintained. The main things to check for is:

  • The self-closing device closes the door fully and by itself.
  • The seal is in place and is not damaged in any way.
  • The recommended gap between the fire door and the frame does not exceed the current standards (Side and top of a fire door 3mm recommended; max 4mm. The bottom of a fire door 10mm gap to allow for undulating floors, devices can be bought to keep this gap down too)

Do you feel that people face any barriers when it comes to maintaining fire door compliance?

The main barrier that people see is the cost! People don’t want to get a fire door survey done as they believe it will cost thousands to put things right. However, maintaining a fire door or even replacing a fire door is a great deal cheaper than they think. Another thing to note is with fire safety, it’s better safe than sorry.

What do you think would help people to overcome these barriers?

I would always recommend getting a survey and then get a quote for what needs to be actioned. There are lots of options out there and the surveyor will be able to help you achieve compliance within your budget. Alternatively, you can pay for a member of staff in your company to be trained in fire door inspections. Once complete they will be able to survey and maintain fire doors regularly, which in the long run can reduce costs.

Do you have any advice for the readers of this blog on how they can increase the lifespan of their fire doors or keep them compliant for longer?

  • Check fire doors regularly and fix things as soon as you see them. It’s best to be proactive and stop problems from getting worse.
  • Fit the best products you can for your budget range. However, sometimes it’s better to invest in something that is of higher spec, it can avoid replacements and engineer call-outs.
  • Never be afraid to ask companies for advice. It’s what companies like us are here for! We, at 1st Aid Fire, will always welcome questions and try to help in any way we can. By having conversations with us, solutions can be tailored to meet your specific needs.

Having the right testing and certification for each door set component is important for your fire door to be compliant. What is your opinion on global assessment vs primary test evidence – is it practical to test every door with every combination of ironmongery?

There are many companies out there that will say that their products are the best. If fire doorsets are manufactured well and to a specific standard, then it still must be installed correctly. Only use a company which is third-party accredited, this will give you peace of mind that not only the fire door is compliant but the workmanship can be checked at any time. If the standard is not right, the company can be struck-off the accredited recommendation books. We use Loss Prevention Certification Board (LPCB) accredited carpenters and we have never been let down in the past. There are many accredited companies out there, so you can choose the one that suits you and gives you the reassurance you need to feel safe.

How can a business like 1st Aid Fire help people stay safe and compliant?

We offer several different courses from Fire Awareness to Fire Warden training. We want to work with clients so they can ensure their staff are not only trained to deal with fire but also how to be proactive within the workplace. We also work closely with other companies in the industry that offer training in fire door inspection courses or that manufacture the best equipment on the market. 1st Aid Fire can do the hard work for you and ensure that your workplace is safe and compliant.

If you have any more questions about fire doors or you’d like to discuss further how 1st Aid Fire can help your business, check out their website www.1staidfire.com or give them a call on 0808 123 2401

“Protect your business by being proactive”

Back to school safely with Fireco

Back to school safely with Fireco

Staff and students will be returning for the new year so it’s important to make sure your school is prepared and has all the necessary safety measures in place to remain COVID-secure.

Places of education have a duty of care to students and will already use the Governments advice on Health and Safety. However, it is important that a specific Coronavirus Risk Assessment is completed. By doing this, Coronavirus hazards can be identified, measured and controlled.

There are different resources available for Coronavirus Risk Assessments, however, The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) has created this template which can be used by all industries.

Fireco’s products have already been helping many businesses, hospitals and schools with their germ-control. Here are some of the hazards identified by HSE that Fireco can help with.

Ventilation

Buildings should have good ventilation and fresh air circulating throughout. Our hold-open devices allow you to legally and safely hold your doors open which will improve airflow. When the fire alarm is activated, the doors will automatically close. With colder weather approaching, it’s important to have other methods in place to ensure good ventilation throughout your school, as keeping the windows open won’t always be a suitable option.

Pinch points

High traffic areas in the school such as Reception, hallways, doorways, toilets, lifts, changing rooms, canteens, break rooms etc are going to need to be monitored. Our hold-open devices will allow you to keep your doors open, reducing the need to touch door handles, limiting the risk of cross-contamination. Our Smart Sanitising System, Germgard, can be installed by entry and exit points, which will promote the use of hand sanitiser before passing through.

Anxiety around Coronavirus

Being isolated from lockdown and social distancing can heighten feelings of anxiety about returning to normal activities such as attending school. Many students and staff members will need assurances and physical evidence that there are practices in place to maintain hygiene. Germgard is a clear and visual way to encourage good hygiene. A sensor will detect someone approaching and a screen with digital signage will prompt them to use hand sanitiser before entering. This system could be ideal for a reception area, break room, or delivery bay as staff and visitors passing through will use hand sanitiser before being allowed entry. Our hold-open devices can create a more open atmosphere and reduce the need to touch door handles, this could also be encouraging for people who are concerned about contaminated surfaces.

Inadequate hygiene

If people on the school premises are not keeping up good personal hygiene, they could easily cross-contaminate items they touch. Germgard is designed to promote good hygiene practices to building users through the use of hand sanitiser. It can also be integrated with access control and other systems to further reinforce sanitisation by only allowing entry once the sanitiser has been used.

Fireco can help keep schools fire-safe and COVID-secure. If you would like to know how we can help your school, contact us today on 01273 320650.

What has the Bolton student accommodation fire taught us?

What has the Bolton student accommodation fire taught us?

In November 2019 third-party student accommodation in Bolton known as ‘The Cube’ went up in flames. It took 40 fire engines and 9 hours for the fire service to get it under control and left 220 students with no belongings or place to live.

The University of Bolton, although not liable, re-homed all of the students affected, placing them in hotels, providing them with food and toiletries and giving each of them £500 cash to buy essential items. This cost the University around £1M.

The blaze has since raised issues about the safety of residents in third-party student accommodation.

Dangerous Cladding

The fire is thought to have been caused by a discarded cigarette, however, this is still under investigation. In the meantime, the biggest question being asked is why did the fire spread in a way that resembled the Grenfell tragedy.

Much research has been carried out on cladding used on high-rise buildings. Although the one used on The Cube (high-pressure laminate) was not the same type as the one used on Grenfell (aluminium composite material), it is still classed as a flammable material.

Fire alarms ignored by students

The Manchester Evening News interviewed some of the students who had fled the building and found that many of them didn’t respond when the fire alarms went off.

“I was just sitting there, hanging about and not really doing anything. Then someone knocked on my door.”

“The fire alarm was going off but nobody was paying any attention. It goes off all the time, maybe every hour during the day because someone has done something in the kitchen and it’s set off the alarm.

“if it had gone up in the middle of the night everyone would have slept through the alarm. We have slept through them before when there were non-emergencies.”

Bolton University Students

Universities urged to review fire safety

Whilst the causes and spread of the fire were being uncovered and investigated, Gavin Williamson, Secretary of State for Education, wrote to all universities urging them to review their own and their third-party providers fire safety procedures. This came after Union Leaders wrote to him raising concerns for students’ health and safety.

What can Universities and their providers do in order to be compliant and increase the safety of students?

Union Leaders proposed to Gavin Williamson that the following actions should be taken:

  • Remove dangerous and flammable cladding on educational buildings.
  • Carefully consider the use of building materials on all new builds and avoid the use of cladding known to be dangerous.
  • Fit sprinklers in new accommodation and educational buildings.
  • Review of all educational buildings to establish if standards are being met.

Other actions that can be taken include:

  • Arrange for a fire risk assessment to be carried out by a professional body so that all risks can be identified and eliminated.
  • Put in place systems that can ensure the safety of all students like Fireco’s Deafgard or Digital Messaging System.
  • Carry out regular fire drills and evacuations with students so they are prepared if a fire does occur.
  • Teach students basic fire safety awareness, for example, common causes of fires and preventative measures and how to use provided fire equipment.

Fireco is here to make compliance easy. If you need help with fire safety in your university or accommodation facility, contact us today on 01273 320650.

Upgrade your fire safety and reduce your maintenance

*Photo credit @Manchesterfire on Twitter

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Closed doors can save lives

Closed doors can save lives

Did you know that closing your fire door at night could be the difference between life and death?

The Fire Door Safety Week 2019 campaign focuses on the critical role of fire doors for keeping people safe in sleeping accommodation. This could be anything from HMO’s (House in Multiple Occupancy), care homes and hotels. Whilst you are asleep you are vulnerable to potential dangers, such as a fire. 

By closing your bedroom door in these types of residence you are increasing your chances of survival. Here are a few of the benefits behind the closed door:

  • Lower temperature
  • Less smoke
  • Prevented damage
  • More oxygen

Can a closed-door really make that much difference?

Fire doors are specifically designed to trap a fire for up to 60 minutes. This gives enough time for people to evacuate the building and for the fire service to extinguish the flames before it takes over the whole building. 

If you are asleep, you are going to be less reactive to a fire breaking out. If your bedroom door is left open, you are giving fire the opportunity to enter the room before you even realise it’s there. If your bedroom door is closed, fire will be kept out of the room, meaning the fire service can be called and they can help you evacuate the building safely and unharmed.

 

 

 

 

This image is an example of how much difference a closed bedroom door can make. On one side you can see the hallway which has been turned into ashes from the fire. The other side shows the bedroom which looks untouched. By keeping that door closed, the fire was not able to affect that room.

There are many reasons why people choose to keep their door open at night. However, it is much safer for yourself, your family and your property to close them.

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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?

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