Research reveals alarming levels of ignorance and complacency about fire safety

Fire safety is a massive issue in the UK with an average of 174 building fires occurring every day, but new research has shown that people are shockingly complacent about the subject.

The Fire Door Safety Week 2014 logo

The Fire Door Safety Week 2014 logo

Published to coincide with Fire Door Safety Week (which this year runs from 15-21 September), the research reveals that almost half of the public (47%) have never been informed about the fire safety procedures where they work.

If a fire alarm was to sound, 14% of people say they would see what everyone else was doing and ‘go with the flow’. One in ten people (11%) would go into the corridor and investigate, while one in 20 admit they would simply ignore it, assuming there must be a fault somewhere on the alarm system.

When respondents with formal responsibility for fire safety in their organisations were asked if they were fully aware of their legal obligations, almost half (46.5%) said they either didn’t know what these obligations are or admitted they were unclear.

Fire is still a big problem in the UK, with an average of 174 building fires occurring every day

Fire is still a big problem in the UK, with an average of 174 building fires occurring every day

A similar proportion (45%) say they really would not know how to spot a dodgy fire door – one of the most critical passive fire protection features in the buildings we use on a daily basis.

Opening our eyes to fire safety

John Fletcher – manager of the British Woodworking Federation’s BWF-CERTIFIRE Scheme which, together with the UK’s Fire Door Inspection Scheme (FDIS), is behind the organisation of Fire Door Safety Week – stresses that we all need to open our eyes to fire safety.

“Dodgy fire doors are usually just one of many signs of fire safety negligence,” asserted Fletcher, “but actually they’re a relatively easy one to spot and do something about. We are calling on everyone to look again at the buildings in which they live and work and to report dodgy fire doors to the landlord, building manager or owner.”

Fletcher added: “The same principle applies to all commercial buildings, non-domestic and multi-occupancy premises, including offices, restaurants, shops, hotels, care homes, public buildings, high rise flats and privately rented apartments. All of these buildings should have properly installed and maintained fire doors to help save lives and property.”

Damaged fire door in a hotel

Damaged fire door in a hotel

There are three easy steps to check a fire safety door:
*Make sure any door marked ‘Fire Door’ closes correctly around all parts of the frame and that it’s not blocked or wedged open
*The gap between the door and the frame should be no more than 3-4 mm
*There should be no damage on the door, its edges, hinges, handles and windows

If you’re in any doubt seek a proper inspection by a qualified fire door inspector.

Video: Fire Door Safety – What Happens When You Get It Wrong?

London Fire Brigade issues fire safety door warning

The London Fire Brigade is urging residents and landlords of purpose-built blocks or houses converted into flats not to replace vital fire doors at the entrance to the property with doors that do not meet the required safety standards.

The Brigade has also raised concerns about people removing the self-closing mechanism on their fire doors to prevent themselves from being accidentally locked out.

In the last three years in London three people have died and 36 people have been injured in fires where fire doors have been replaced, left open or incorrectly fitted.

Fire doors are a legal requirement for flats which open on to communal areas shared with other tenants. They ensure escape routes are protected if a fire breaks out and are designed to automatically close behind people in the event of fire, holding back flames and stopping the spread of fire and smoke.

Steve Turek, Assistant Commissioner for Fire Safety Regulation, explained: “You wouldn’t remove seatbelts from your car, so why remove fire doors from your home or business premises? Fire doors are specially designed to automatically close behind you in the event of fire, holding back flames and stopping the spread of the fire and toxic smoke into escape routes, corridors and other flats in the block. It’s crucial that people don’t remove the self-closing mechanism on fire doors.”

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