Fire Doors Complete provides businesses and individuals with the skills and knowledge required to comply with UK fire safety legislation. We know that fire doors play a vital role in protecting people and property in the event of a fire. However, despite their importance, fire doors are often wedged open, putting occupants at serious risk. In this blog post, we will examine the hazards of leaving fire doors open and emphasize the need to keep them closed.

The Integral Role of Fire Doors

Fire doors are safety devices designed to contain fires and prevent the spread of smoke. They are a legal requirement in commercial buildings and blocks of flats. When closed, fire doors form a barrier that can hold back fire and toxic fumes, buying time for building occupants to evacuate.

Modern fire doors are constructed to an exacting standard, with fire-resistant cores, intumescent seals that expand in heat, and strong hinges and closing mechanisms. Certified fire doors can withstand flames for 30 minutes or more when properly installed and maintained. This gives the fire brigade crucial time to arrive on the scene and conduct rescue operations.

fire door close up

The Dangers of Leaving Fire Doors Open

While fire doors play an indispensable role, they only work when closed. A fire door wedged or propped open completely defeats its function as a fire safety device. An open door allows smoke and flames to travel freely, accelerating the spread of fire.

There are several major risks associated with leaving fire doors open:

  • Rapid fire spread – Open doors enable fire and heat to move quickly through stairwells and hallways. This allows the blaze to engulf entire buildings rapidly.
  • Toxic smoke inhalation – Smoke from fires contains deadly gases that can quickly overwhelm and asphyxiate building occupants. Open doors facilitate the movement of smoke, giving people less time to evacuate.
  • Chimney effect – Fires generate immense heat and pressure. Open vertical shafts like stairwells can create a flue effect, quickly circulating smoke and fire up through a building.
  • Compromised fire compartments – Fire doors create protected zones or compartments to prevent fire from moving from one area to another. Wedging doors open allows fire to breach these compartments.
  • Reduced evacuation time – Fire doors are designed to hold back blazes for a minimum of 30 minutes. Propped open doors can decrease this critical window of time for evacuation.
  • Property damage – Uncontrolled fire spread can lead to irreparable damage and destruction of the building and its contents.

Why Fire Doors Get Wedged Open

There are a few common reasons why fire doors often get propped open:

  • Improving convenience and accessibility in high-traffic areas
  • Allowing airflow on hot days
  • Moving large items through doorways
  • Stepping outside for fresh air or a break

While these may seem like harmless actions, they can have catastrophic consequences. Something as simple as a door wedge can endanger many lives in an emergency.

The Law and Fire Door Compliance

There are legal obligations regarding fire doors that building owners and employers must adhere to. The key pieces of legislation are:

  • The Fire Safety Order (FSO) – Applies in England and Wales and stipulates proper fire door maintenance.
  • The Fire Safety Act – Covers Scotland and mandates functioning, well-fitted fire doors.
  • The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order – Requires fire risk assessments and fire safety provisions for commercial spaces.

The FSO states that fire doors must be kept closed unless fitted with approved automatic closing devices. Building owners have to ensure fire doors are never obstructed or wedged open. Doing so can result in prosecution and fines.

It is also imperative that fire doors receive routine inspection and testing. They should close firmly, have functioning seals, and be certified to the appropriate fire rating standard. Neglecting fire door maintenance violates the law.

Promoting a Fire Door Safety Culture

Creating a strong fire safety culture is essential for any organization. Leadership must stress that wedging doors undermines fire protection and endangers colleagues. Some helpful strategies include:

  • Educating staff on the purpose and proper use of fire doors during orientations and fire drills
  • Putting up signage and warning notices about keeping fire doors closed
  • Monitoring fire doors daily to ensure they are not blocked or propped open
  • Taking disciplinary action if employees are caught wedging doors without approval
  • Installing automatic closing devices where appropriate to avoid doors being left open
  • Conducting regular fire door inspection and maintenance to keep doors fully functional
  • Inviting fire wardens to explain the risks of open fire doors during safety meetings

With engagement and commitment from management and employees, organizations can foster an environment where fire door safety is second nature.

Smoke coming out of a door.

Take Action: Keep Fire Doors Closed

We all have a part to play in fire safety. Be vigilant and take action if you see a wedged open fire door by closing it firmly. One small act can save lives.

Pause and consider the implications before propping open a fire door. Never assume it will be OK. Reflect on the risks of overriding such a vital safety mechanism.

Together we can take responsibility for fire door safety. Closing an open fire door takes just a moment but provides protection that lasts. Make it a habit to keep fire doors shut. It is an easy yet meaningful contribution towards safeguarding your colleagues, loved ones and property.

At Fire Doors Complete, we are passionate about fire safety. Contact our experts today to learn more about fire doors or schedule an inspection. We offer fire door installations, repairs, upgrades and maintenance to help keep your building compliant and protected.