Through Fire Door Safety Week (FDSW), fire door safety campaigners are working to ensure public and private sector landlords and building owners stop risking the lives of tenants and ensure fire doors are correctly inspected, specified, fitted and maintained.
Fire doors are the first line of defence against devastating fires and, when properly built, installed and maintained, they save lives and protect property. Despite this, fire doors across the UK are still often badly fitted, non-compliant, left propped open or damaged and, as a result, could be putting millions of lives at stake.
The team behind FDSW 2018 (which runs from 24-30 September) is gearing up for its campaign that will continue to educate about the critical role that fire doors play in delaying the spread of smoke and fire and keeping occupants and firefighters safe.
The FDSW campaign – entitled: ‘Fire Door Five: Shutting the Door on Fire and Smoke’ – aims to draw attention to the importance of properly-fitted and accredited fire doors as well as raising awareness of the dangers of smoke inhalation and the role that correctly installed fire doors can play in preventing the spread of both fire and smoke.
Part of the activity will see campaigners explore the need to establish a Building Safety Fund to help pay for vital and potentially life-saving fire safety improvements in Local Authority and Housing Association accommodation.
Hannah Mansell, spokesperson for FDSW as well as being the British Woodworking Federation’s (BWF) head of technical research and insight, chair of the Passive Fire Protection Forum and a trustee of the Children’s Burns Trust, said: “Through Fire Door Safety Week, we will once more renew our efforts to ensure that residents, landlords and building owners across the UK are armed with the information they need to make informed decisions that will improve safety.”
Mansell continued: “There’s no doubt that, when fully-fitted with their correct and compatible components, properly installed and maintained, fire doors play a crucial role in saving lives in the event of a fire. The legacy of neglect means that more lives could be lost as a result of sub-standard fire protection measures. We know that the necessary corrective actions will cost money and that’s precisely why we are asking the Government set up a Building Safety Fund for Housing Associations and Local Authorities such that they can carry out replacement and repair works. Finance should not be used as an excuse. The stakes are too high.”
Mansell went on to state: “Tenants and the general public will, as always, play a key part and make sure their voices are heard by reporting fire doors that are propped open, damaged or in poor condition, rather than waiting for landlords or building owners to inspect fire doors. Indeed, as part of Fire Door Safety Week, we have created a Five-Step Fire Door Check to help people check their fire doors and empower them to report faults.”
Massive learning curve
Over the last year, there has been significant discussion about the responsibility of landlords, councils and Housing Associations to ensure the safety of their tenants, but according to Mansell there’s still a massive learning curve in terms of awareness about how fire doors that are correctly specified, installed, maintained and of course closed can limit the effect of fire and smoke, and what to do in the event of a fire.
“Due to this uncertainty, our focus for Fire Door Safety Week in 2018 is ‘shutting the door on fire and smoke’. We want to educate everyone on how effective fire doors can be in stopping the spread of fire and smoke.”
A national campaign, FDSW is run by the BWF, the BWF-Certifire Scheme and the Fire Door Inspection Scheme in partnership with the Home Office’s own National Fire Safety Campaign. Throughout the week, there will be numerous events and campaign activities designed to raise awareness about the importance of fire door safety.
*To access a free toolkit of fire safety advice resources to help run your own FDSW activities visit www.firedoorsafetyweek.co.uk