fire door safety week

Residential landlords still haven t learned Grenfell lessons especially in social housing, survey reveals

Fewer than one in four (23%) private landlords have been in touch with tenants to discuss fire safety measures since the Grenfell Tower fire and even fewer social landlords have done likewise. Three months on from the fire, which killed at least 80 people, only 10% of tenants in social housing say they have been contacted by the landlords about fire safety. That s one of the headline findings of a survey released to coincide with Fire Door Safety Week (25 September-1 October), and the results seem to demonstrate the need for such a campaign.

Some 39% of tenants polled said they had seen fire doors propped open and 21% had noticed damage to their building s fire doors. Forty percent of renters said there is no clear fire escape route displayed. Of the 18% that have reported a fire safety infringement or concern to their landlord, almost a quarter (24%) waited weeks for a response. It is astounding to learn that in the last three months so little has been done to address the concerns of tenants and residents. Hannah Mansell, spokesperson, Fire Door Safety Week A majority (55%) say they feel uninformed about what they should do in the event of a fire and about one in four (24%) feel more anxious about living in a rented apartment since the Grenfell Tower fire. This new research shows that landlords and building owners still have a long way to go meet their fire safety responsibilities, said Hannah Mansell, spokesperson for Fire Door Safety Week. It is astounding to learn that in the last three months so little has been done to address the concerns of tenants and residents. Misunderstood The role and importance of fire doors remains widely misunderstood, believes Mansell, who is also BWF technical manager, chair of the Passive Fire Protection Forum and a trustee of the Children s Burns Trust. Many people do not realise that the real job of a fire door is to hold back fire, smoke and toxic gases, delaying the spread around a building and keeping the vital means of escape route clear.

They only work properly if they are specified, manufactured, installed and maintained correctly and, of course, closed when a fire breaks out. This is especially important in high rise buildings, houses of multiple occupancy and other types of shared sleeping accommodation. Checking fire doors should be part of a regular fire-risk assessment. This should examine all aspects of fire safety management, including active and passive fire protection measures, signage, means of escape and the specific fire plan procedures. Mansell who has spoken to IFSEC Global more extensively about the fire safety landscape believes better education and greater transparency are essential to effect meaningful change. Crystal clarity There needs to be crystal clarity about the responsible person and a total transformation of attitude towards fire safety of tenants in rented accommodation. Our focus for Fire Door Safety Week in this pivotal year is to ensure all landlords and tenants have the knowledge and resources they need to stay safe. Dany Cotton, London Fire Commissioner, oversaw the fire and rescue service s response at Grenfell Tower. London Fire Brigade fully supports Fire Door Safety Week, she said.

This is an important campaign which drives home the potentially life-saving role that fire doors play in buildings, especially residential buildings such as tower blocks. It is extremely concerning that the lives of the public and our firefighters are still being put at risk by poorly maintained fire doors and people acting irresponsibly by removing self-closers or by keeping doors wedged open. We do what we can to advise the building owner, but it s time for the responsible person to really step up. Paul Fuller CBE, chief fire officer, Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service Good fire doors help stop fires from spreading. Fires that spread put more lives at risk and I would urge everyone to check that their fire doors are properly maintained and kept shut. Remember they don t just protect you, but everybody in the building. Paul Fuller CBE, chief fire officer of Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service and chairman of the Fire Sector Federation says: It is simple. Proper fire doors save lives, but only if they are correctly made and installed, and certainly not if they are wedged open or in disrepair. Too often our officers walk into a building and see fire doors in an appalling state.

We do what we can to advise and enforce the responsibilities of a building owner, but it is time for the responsible person to really step up. That s why we are supporting Fire Door Safety Week. There can be no excuse; all the resources you need to promote door safety are there on the website and free to download. Fire Door Safety Week is run by the BWF, the BWF-Certifire Scheme and the Fire Door Inspection Scheme in partnership with the Government s Fire Kills campaign. On 30 August the Government issued fresh advice for tenants and residents on steps to take if they have any concerns about fire safety in their building: In the first instance, contact the landlord or building owner with any concerns. If still concerned and not receiving reassurance, then contact the relevant local authority or local fire and rescue service for advice. IFSEC Global is proud to support Fire Door Safety Week, which runs from 25 September to 1 October. You can pledge your support for the campaign here, and by tweeting under the hashtag #FireDoorSafetyWeek and sharing or using the wealth of resources found in the campaign s toolkit which includes a downloadable Responsible Person poster. The site also includes advice aimed at fire and health and safety professionals.

Related Topics A rogue s gallery of fire doors unworthy of the name (and perfectly good ones rendered useless) We re often dealing with decades of neglect : Hannah Mansell on fire doors and the post-Grenfell rush to improve fire safety Watch: The consequences of badly specified and fitted fire doors plus 5 tips for getting it right

We re often dealing with decades of neglect

With Fire Door Safety Week kicking off next week, IFSEC Global caught up with the campaign s spokesperson to find out how the Grenfell tragedy has affected the campaign. Also technical manager of the British Woodworking Federation, Hannah Mansell reflects on the campaign s growth, message and plans, the temptation for cutting corners in cash-strapped times, the need for coordination across the supply chain and the challenge of keeping fire safety on the media and government agenda long after the charred remnants of Grenfell Tower are demolished in 2018. Hannah also heads up the BWF s stair and BWF-CERTIFIRE schemes.

IFSEC Global: You ve been growing rapidly year on year? What do you think the reasons are? Hannah Mansell: We think it s probably about simplicity. Fire doors are technically complex products and people overlook them for that fact; they re simply not on people s radar. So our job is to get out there and keep the message simple. What they need to know is simple. Your fire doors need to be properly tested and made, maintained, and of course, not left open. Support for the campaign is wide, in all areas of fire safety. Although our message is fire doors, we develop resources and guidance for many different sectors, whether it s the responsible person, the construction industry, fire risk assessors, or tenants and users.

Each campaign has a legacy that we carry on the next year. So for instance last year, we were already focusing on shared accommodation and the rental sector. We realised our work wasn t done in that sector, which has obviously been highlighted by what s happened in the last three months. Since the tragedy there s been a high influx of new supporters in the sector. Councils have come on massively this year, housing associations, charities, landlord associations To be fair the landlord associations have always been quite good supporters. The value engineering of specification, when someone says I can cut a few corners and save you a few quid , is a really big problem And the fire brigades as well. We worked closely with London Fire Brigade last year, and this year they re doing more and going even further. All our resources can be taken and rolled out into any particular organisation or campaign. We ve made a new fire door safety test film (see below).

The last film we made, maybe five or six years ago, had massive traction. The new film is a bit more contemporary, focused on issues we commonly see on fire doors in common areas and with flat front doors doors without seals, doors without proper closers We talk about things like smoke seals and intumescent seals, but a lot of people don t know what they look like. embedded content Also our five-step check, which we also included in the film visually shows what you need to look for, and if you have any concerns, talk to your landlord or building owner. If you still have concerns, the next step is to talk to your local fire brigade who can come out and audit your building. I think in some sectors people have woken up to fire door safety, but it s an ongoing thing. People forget quite quickly. It may not be long until we re disregarding fire safety again. IG: Nature of the beast, really. Easy to get complacent when fire is such a rare thing.

Any other reasons why there are apparently so many inadequate fire doors? HM: We re not dealing with issues that have arisen in these buildings in the last 3-5 years; we re often dealing with decades of neglect of both fire doors and other fire safety systems and elements, with no one taking enough notice of them, these issues and accountability for them dropping out of sight of these responsible. We did some research a few years ago and one of the questions was: What do you think about your fire doors? A deafening silence came back. People were walking past and through them every day and not thinking about their importance. So a lot of our campaign is about outlining the steps: here s your fire door, next step is how to check it, next step is how to report it, here s how to maintain it etc. With the force of people coming together you can get change, but too much of the fire sector has worked in siloes The value engineering of specification, when someone says I can cut a few corners and save you a few quid , is a really big problem. Specification is broken, certification invalidated and there s no proof that the product will work. You can have someone offering to bang in a door like they would fit any old door, not realising that the installation of a fire door is as critical as the product itself.

People think a fire door is just like any other door. In the early days, when I first got into fire doors and was doing a lot of research and development and testing, I was surprised how the tiniest of details can have a massive impact. For instance, an excessive gap around the door or forgotten intumescent protection or seals how much is that going to affect performance during the fire? You d be surprised. In part of the fire door film we ve made this year, we ve set up a correctly fitted door versus one that s got some issues that I commonly find on site. But the bad door looks exactly the same from the outside. It s all about those tiny details compatible components, the frame, the installation etc. Even with a perfect product, installed correctly, if it s not maintained effectively, and it s not closing against its frame or if it gets wedged open etc When the time comes it s just not going to work. Of course, if it s wedged open, there s no barrier to even delay the fire.

Fire doors are also in your face. If I go to a building and see that they have shoddy fire doors, it s a pretty good indicator for me that whoever is responsible for the fire safety of the building isn t taking their responsibility seriously. Interesting that you mentioned value engineering, because cash-strapped councils are being asked to upgrade fire safety in social housing with no extra funding from government HM: I think what they have to consider is that in some cases they are looking at having to pay for decades worth of neglect. Concerns about a wide range of passive fire safety issues including fire doors have been reported for years, in all types of buildings, both public and private sector, you can look back over meeting minutes 10-15 years ago when these issues were being raised. There needs to be a long-term holistic plan. It can t just be completing one task or dealing with one element of fire safety, then it s over and dealt with and forgotten about. The risk profile of buildings is constantly changing. In some sectors there s a realisation about that. But in other sectors We got this report in from one of our BWF members.

They had refused to supply a contract and product for a large TMO for fire door upgrades because the customer wanted to break specification and didn t give a monkeys about it. That s why we need to keep up the pace of not just this campaign but the other campaigns and organisations that we work with, like the Fire Kills campaign. That s maybe what people like about the campaign: we don t make it exclusive. It doesn t matter if you re specifically into fire doors or just someone who wants to support the campaign there s something for everyone in there. With the force of people coming together you can get change, but too much of the fire sector has worked in siloes. A holistic approach might get change. Coupled of course with massive budget cuts I could give you a list as long as my arm of all the factors explaining why we sit here wondering how such a horrific thing could have happened. embedded content IG: Are there many instances where you could remedy a fire-door s deficiencies rather than having to replace the fire door altogether? HM: Lots of people get worried that they ll have to buy a new fire door.

But regular inspection and maintenance help to keep them in good working order. You can replace or adjust components, fix things before they became a major problem. Don t get me wrong, there are limitations. A door can be in such a state of disrepair that you can t fix it. That s why it comes back to having a thorough and robust maintenance regime to make sure you do enough to fix problems before they turn into something irretrievable. A fire door fitted with components suitable for a domestic setting isn t going to last long in the communal corridor of a school There are qualified fire door inspectors who can inspect a door, look at every element the frame, the installation, the ironmongery, the glazing, the door leaf, the seals, the gaps and notify the responsible person of improvements needed. One of our colleagues in the ironmongery industry did a specification for a hospital years ago. Usually hospital fire doors get battered; they can be used thousands of times a day. Twenty-six years later, because specifications for that environment and users were right, and they are regularly inspected, these doors are still going strong they would do their job in a fire.

If you fit a fire door that s designed and fitted with components suitable for a domestic setting into a communal corridor of a school, it not going to last very long. That s why the specification is so critical. Lots of people don t think about the whole supply chain; it s I ve done my bit, pass it onto the next person. It s a chain of responsibility. Fire doors are not the most interesting dinner party topic, but they play such an important role especially in buildings because of complex design, the specific needs of occupants, or if it s difficult to evacuate quickly and there is a stay-put fire plan. You need fire and smoke control doors up and down corridors and stairwells. It protects the means of escape and route for firefighters to get into the building. It includes flat front doors as well. You will also find fire doors in other parts of the building, and sometimes inside individual dwellings, depending on the layout and building types, as well as a number of other factors.

IG: Do you think the regulations themselves need clarification or strengthening? HM: My real day job is not just doing the fire door safety campaign. I m the technical manager of the British Woodworking Federation (BWF). Our members make and certificate about 2.5 million timber fire doors every year, but our organisation frequently provides technical guidance about a wide variety of timber construction products and how they relate to building regulations and building control. People often don t understand how they work; it can be a minefield. I know we re going to have a review of building regulations, but it s been on the agenda for many years and it s far, far overdue. And I m not just talking about Approved Document B. We ve got building regs that apply to new buildings, regs about refurbishment or change of use, about surrounding fire risk assessments, about the signing off of work process, the whole regulatory reform order, which came in 10 years ago and changed the responsibility and process of signing off compliance. We could sit here in five years time and have a very similar discussion unless people take heed of the scale of the problem now These are all bits of regulation that need to work together, so it s about an upgrade of regulations throughout the chain.

I don t think we can just be appeased with just an approved document review. I think when the public are calling for a building regulation review, they re talking about the whole process, not just documents that talk about fire safety in high rise buildings. One thing really highlighted over the last few weeks is how many different parties get involved in the refurb, design, specifications, supply of products, construction, the signing off of buildings. There needs to be much more clarity as to how that chain works. In the wake of Grenfell, the amount of fire safety issues reported in other buildings has been huge, not just cladding. For instance, the Camden evacuation was because a thousand fire doors were missing. When it comes to enforcing against large organisations, transparency is sometimes the issue when it goes through the courts. Who is the responsible person? And in an enormous organisation with a massive housing stock, how detached are they from the scale or severity of fire safety issues in their buildings?

We live differently to how we lived even 10-15 years ago. Elderly people are much more likely to stay in their homes longer, more people live in high rise buildings, there are people with a wide variety of additional needs who may be more vulnerable to a fire in their building. The regulations have to reflect that, and not just for the benefit of building more homes quickly, of questionable quality. IG: Has Grenfell changed your message in any way given the greater media and public awareness of the issue? HM: Fire Door Safety Week campaign has been going formally for five years . We re as determined as we ever were, to carry on promoting our campaign and working with other campaigns and initiatives in these areas. Each year, stepping up and building on what we ve done before, until we get real and lasting change. I read an opinion piece that said it will take generations to get over Grenfell. We ve got to keep this right up there in the media so we don t have a repeat.

We can t let it be swept under the carpet or not acted upon in the fullest manner. It s like that poem isn t it: For want of a nail, the Kingdom was lost . Your fire doors are almost your nails, as it were. All these little fire safety problems adding up together to create the perfect fire storm. We need a new way of looking at fire safety. Otherwise we ll do what we always did: an investigation and an inquest, and get what we always got, excuses why it can t improve, and then sort of forget about it. And the worst thing is we could sit here in five years time and have a very similar discussion unless people take heed of the scale of the problem now. There is the chance to really make building safe for generations to come. IFSEC Global is proud to support Fire Door Safety Week, which runs from 25 September to 1 October.

You can pledge your support for the campaign here, and by tweeting under the hashtag #FireDoorSafetyWeek and sharing or using the wealth of resources found in the campaign s toolkit.

Related Topics Watch: The consequences of badly specified and fitted fire doors plus 5 tips for getting it right Fire-door safety campaigners renew calls for public register of responsible persons Willmott Dixon issues fire door guidance to 3,000 staff thanks to Fire Door Safety Week

Watch: The consequences of badly specified and fitted fire doors plus 5 tips for getting it right

Fire DOor safety week The video below demonstrates the how badly an incorrectly specified and installed fire door performs during a fire however smart it might appear the untrained eye. Produced by the BWF Certifire Fire Door Scheme, it shows footage of a live fire door test, pitting a fully compliant fire door against a badly fitted equivalent. The video, put together for Fire Door Safety Week, also details a simple five-step checklist to ensure your fire doors are specified and installed properly.

IFSEC Global is proud to support Fire Door Safety Week, which runs from 25 September to 1 October.

You can pledge your support for the campaign here, and by tweeting under the hashtag #FireDoorSafetyWeek and sharing or using the wealth of resources found in the campaign s toolkit.

embedded content Related Topics Fire-door safety campaigners renew calls for public register of responsible persons Willmott Dixon issues fire door guidance to 3,000 staff thanks to Fire Door Safety Week The dodgy fire door gallery 2016

Willmott Dixon issues fire door guidance to 3,000 staff thanks to Fire Door Safety Week

Willmott Dixon Issues Fire Door Guidance To 3,000 Staff Thanks To Fire Door Safety Week

Fire Door Safety Week has enjoyed its most successful campaign to date, according to figures released by its organisers. In one of the campaign s most eye-catching achievements, construction giant Willmott Dixon issued a checklist to 3,000 staff to help them check the fire door nearest to them and report any concerns to the building manager. The number of organisations backing the campaign 174 rose by more than a third year on year and was up almost 300% on the inaugural campaign in 2013.

Supporters included housing and construction companies, fire and rescue services and a variety of businesses involved in the fire door supply chain. The event also won the backing of Fire Minister Brandon Lewis MP, Ann Jones in the Welsh Assembly Government, the Government s chief fire and rescue adviser, Peter Holland CBE, and Dan Daly, assistant commissioner for fire safety at London Fire Brigade.

1,896 Twitter mentions Press coverage about Fire Door Safety Week reached an estimated 2.1 million people, while 18 items of radio and TV coverage, which featured interviews with London Fire Brigade, Peter Holland and householders affected by fire door problems, reached 4.6 million people on the campaign s first day alone. Fire Door Safety Week received 1,896 mentions and retweets on Twitter and reached 2.1 million on social media overall. The Fire Door Safety Week website, meanwhile, attracted more than 5,000 visits. embedded content The campaign, which is organised by the British Woodworking Federation, BWF-Certifire Scheme and Fire Door Inspection Scheme in partnership with the Government s Fire Kills campaign, seeks to raise awareness of the critical role fire doors play in saving lives and protecting property and promote best practice in installation and maintenance. Running from 26 September to 2 October Fire Door Safety Week focused on HMOs and blocks of flats this year. There were 39,600 dwelling fires in Great Britain in 2013-14, the equivalent of 108 fires in homes every day. Research published by the organisers during Fire Door Safety Week revealed that just a third of the lowest income households renting flats say they have been given information on the emergency fire plan for the building where they live, compared to 88% of tenants on annual incomes exceeding 100,000. And BWF-Certifire led calls for national register of responsible persons property owners or managers who are legally responsible for fire safety in a given building during the campaign.

IFSEC Global also published the dodgy fire door gallery 2016 and secret footage of dodgy fire doors, both courtesy of Theodore Firedoor. The campaign s other achievements and events included: A housing association in Sidcup, southeast London agreed to replace 40-year old damaged front doors with proper fire doors after sustained lobbying by a resident and publicity from the campaign Major contractor Willmott Dixon issued a checklist to 3,000 staff to help them check the fire door nearest to them and report any concerns to the building manager A sculpture made from confiscated fire door wedges was unveiled at a BWF-hosted reception to mark the 350 th anniversary of the Great Fire of London and was donated to London Fire Brigade Arnold Laver organised a CPD-accredited fire door safety day with Merseyside Fire & Rescue, Lorient, Vetrotech and dormakaba Lorient organised its own fire door safety event for customers LABC organised a CPD-accredited seminar for building control professionals, architects and builders London Fire Brigade partnered with BWF-Certifire to run a training day for more than 80 of the capital s fire safety officers, and a similar training day was organised by Nottingham Fire & Rescue, focusing on the design and installation of fire doors The Association for Specialist Fire Protection organised a fire protection roundtable debate featuring leading names from the world of fire A community safety team from Hampshire Fire & Rescue went out to advise business owners in Cascades Shopping Centre and surrounding stores BWF-Certifire launched its updated Best Practice Guide with new editions for architects, building contractors, loft conversion companies and housebuilders, and also launch a new poster for landlords to use to promote contact details for the Responsible Person Campaign spokesperson Hannah Mansell in the radio studio Vulnerable residents We are delighted with the reach of the campaign, said Hannah Mansell, BWF Technical Manager and campaign spokesperson. There was a real buzz, and by the time we factor in the reach achieved by our supporters own communications and other organisations newsletters, we are confident we will have reached well over the 10 million mark by the end of the year. This year we wanted to look at fire safety in flats as well as buildings where there is a lot of shared accommodation, like homes in multiple occupation. These are often homes for the people with the fewest choices about where they live and the least opportunity to move. What we found is that there are massive fire door safety issues still remaining in buildings where we house some of our most vulnerable residents and where it is difficult to evacuate people quickly. Our research shows that the poorest in society continue to be at greatest risk from fire, and everything we see and hear about on a daily basis amounts to what can only be described as a widespread dereliction of duty by those responsible for fire safety. Fire door safety is not just about one week a year. This is why we are encouraging a proactive approach to embedding fire safety awareness into all areas, launching a year of fire door safety in 2017.

We will be doing more to draw attention to fire door safety throughout the whole year, as well as seeking to promote and celebrate those building owners, organisations and landlords who genuinely take their legal and moral duties seriously. Next year s campaign will run from Monday 25 September to Sunday 1 October 2017. Free download covering legal requirements for responsible persons under the FSO, courtesy of the IOSH, BIFM and USHA approved UK provider of health, safety and environmental information.

Key features: A full breakdown of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 The key actions when dealing with fire precautions & protection A complete guide to maintaining procedures and requirements within your organisation.

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