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.
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.