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Fire Door Safety: What Landlords Need to Know

Fire doors may not appear in your top priority when it comes to property management. However, it is crucial to follow all safety regulations and provide a safe environment for your tenants. From gas safety to smoke alarms, fire safety might not be the biggest hot topic, but a fire disaster is the last thing anyone wants - fire safety is definitely one that you don’t want to underestimate. 

Here we will take a look at all you need to know about fire doors and the related legal obligations.

What is a fire door?

A fire door serves the same simple purpose as a regular door in a practical understanding. However, in the event of a fire, a fire door functions as a critical safety tool in a property. 

So how do fire doors assist when there is a fire? Fire doors delay the spread of both fire and smoke, which can help to give residents extra time to evade to a safe place in the event of a fire. As the fire doors contain the fire and smoke for an extended period of time, they can also help to minimise damages to the property by serving as a barrier.

Fire doors act as a barrier to block out smoke and fire, whilst minimising the spread of dangerous toxic smoke. Toxic smoke can travel much more rapidly than fire and can cause disorientation, lack of visibility and breathing problems. It is also a substance that often leads to fatalities before the fire actually reaches the residents.

It’s important to note that each fire door may vary, so checking the fire door specification and carrying out regular maintenance is crucial. This can ensure that there is no damage that negatively affects its performance.

How do you know if a fire door is certified? 

Using a reputable and competent supplier is crucial. Many suppliers claim to make fire doors, but only some have got legally tested products. Similar to gas safety certificates, fire doors require a safety certificate as well. A certified fire door should have passed testing and have supporting documents, which is usually a safety performance certificate in accordance with British or European standards. 

If the fire door is correctly fitted and maintained, it should withstand smoke and fire for a significantly longer period of time than a regular door. To identify whether a door is a certified fire door, you can check the label on the top or side of the door. Without a certification label, it cannot be assured that the door is a fire door and whether it can protect your tenant and the property adequately in case of a fire.

How do you know if the hinges are compliant?

Hinges on the fire doors are more important than it seems. It is required for fire doors to have three or more securely fixed hinges, as hinges can affect the efficiency of the fire door. It is useful to check that there are no torn or missing screws regularly, since this can be caused by wear and tear.

Do fire doors need to be closed completely?

An obstructed fire door that doesn’t close entirely will not offer complete protection, so ensuring that fire doors can be shut firmly is crucial. It can be tested by assessing the door’s range - simply let go of the door when it’s open.

Each fire door should also have intumescent seals around the door or frame, which should be visible on the edges. The sealant expands when in contact with heat. With the expansion, it can help to minimise fire and smoke seeping through the cracks.

This should be included in your regular inspections of the property. Landlords should also advise tenants to report any issues as soon as possible to get the problem fixed quickly.

What are landlords’ responsibilities regarding fire safety obligations?

Under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (FSO), landlords are accountable for ensuring the safety of their tenants and ensuring that their properties are fire safe. Landlords who fail to meet these obligations can be prosecuted and so it is critical that landlords stay compliant to the legal duties.

Under the same order, landlords must make sure all tenants have access to an unrestricted escape route anytime. Correctly installed fire doors should clearly provide a safe escape route for residents. Meanwhile, HMOs require a specific set of fire precautions, including emergency lighting that is able to resist fire, smoke and fumes for long enough for residents to evacuate the property.

On top of that, landlords are also obligated to carry out periodical risk assessments in the common areas of Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs), flats, maisonettes and sheltered accommodation.

HMOs are also required to have at least one fire extinguisher on each floor and at least one fire blanket in each shared kitchen facility. Fire extinguisher and fire blanket should be serviced regularly. Whilst providing a fire extinguisher is not obligatory in other residential properties, it is strongly advised that landlords install one in the property in case of emergency. When it comes to safety in your property, it’s always better safe than sorry.

The Fire Safety Order (FSO) on the government website provides comprehensive detail on all fire safety regulations and information landlords should know.

What are landlords’ responsibilities regarding smoke alarms?

Landlords are also required to comply with smoke and carbon monoxide alarm regulations. From installing smoke alarms to regular inspections, these steps are just as essential as fire doors when it comes to safety, 

It is also a good idea to select the right types of furniture and furnishings mindfully, such as choosing fire-resistant materials for upholstered furnishings. Approved fire-safe furnishings should have a fire-safe symbol on the manufacturers’ label.

Not a fan of high street agents? With online letting platforms, you can stay compliant whilst managing your property, the DIY way. You can be as hands-on or hands-off as you want. 

At MakeUrMove, we ensure all legal documents are in place and help landlords find tenants efficiently. Learn more about our property management services now.

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