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The significance of fire doors to a building’s fire safety

Legal requirements for multi-occupied residential buildings in England over 11 metres

The Grenfell Tower Inquiry (Phase 1) found a number of issues, including compromised escape routes and fire doors that, due to damage and/or neglect, did not function as they should have to stop smoke and gas from spreading.

As a result, the Inquiry recommended (Recommendations 33.29 (a) and (b)) that the owner and manager of every residential building with separate dwellings conduct an urgent inspection of all fire doors to ensure compliance with current legislative standards and that regular checks be carried out (at least once every three months) to ensure that all fire doors are equipped with an efficient self-closing device that is in working order.

The Inquiry further advised (Recommendation 33.30) that all those who are legally obligated to oversee the state of each apartment's entrance door in a high-rise residential structure with dangerous cladding be forced to do so.

As a direct result, improved fire safety laws are included in Article 24 of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. The Fire Safety (England) Regulations 2022 were released on December 6 of that year and went into effect on January 23, 2023, in England.

Changes to the regulations regarding fire doors have an effect on the Responsible Person. They mandate that responsible parties implement new additional safety measures with regard to the routine and ongoing inspection of fire escapes in multi-occupied residential buildings that are classified as high-rise structures (defined in The Fire Safety (England) Regulations as a building at least 18 metres in height or at least seven storeys) and those above 11 metres in height in a similar use of multi-occupation residences where communal areas and escape routes exist.

Quarterly inspections of Fire Doors

Due to their frequent use and subsequent failures or damage, fire-resisting door sets (including their self-closing devices) in common areas of high-rise buildings and multi-occupied residential buildings over 11 metres in height must now undergo quarterly inspections. Cross-corridor fire doors, staircase enclosure fire doors, fire doors of protected lobbies, and higher-risk spaces including plant rooms, riser shafts, and storage facilities are included in this list, but they are not the only ones.

Annual inspections of Fire Doors

According to the new Fire Safety Regulations, it is now legally required to conduct yearly inspections of fire-resistant entrance door sets for apartments or flats on a "best efforts" basis. This inspection must follow the same procedure as described above, and any necessary repairs must be made to bring the door back into compliance.

Information for Residents

The Responsible Person is now required to inform residents of the importance of fire doors to a building's fire safety, emphasising the necessity of not removing or unplugging self-closing devices, keeping fire doors closed, and reporting any problems or damage to doors as soon as possible. To guarantee that all inhabitants are given the instruction to defend the entire building and its occupants, this has to be documented. A multi-occupied residential building's residents are required to have this information both before they move in and then once a year after that. There is a requirement for a fire risk assessor inspecting such facilities to provide proof of these practices, identify shortcomings, and provide appropriate and adequate suggestions for fixing such failings.

Fire Risk Assessments

According to the Fire Safety Act 2021, if fire risk assessments for buildings with two or more sets of dwelling premises haven't previously been revised to account for doors, they will need to do so. According to section 9, this applies to "all doors between the domestic premises and the common parts (for example, entrance doors to individual flats that open to common parts)." In order to guarantee compliance, the Responsible Person should frequently examine the fire risk assessment of their building(s), especially if there is cause to suspect it is no longer relevant or if there has been a major change in the circumstances to which it applies.

It is not essential to conduct another fire risk assessment while it is still compliant with this directive if these measures have already been taken into account in the present fire risk assessment.

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