Closed fire doors save lives. They prevent the spread of fire through a building, keeping people safe while they evacuate. But closed fire doors can hinder access through a building. How can you solve five of the biggest issues with closed fire doors?
Fire doors are heavy — they need to be to be able to contain a fire. However, trying to push open a heavy fire door can be difficult for younger school pupils, frailer residents at a care home or hospital or those with limited mobility.
Wedged open fire doors are illegal because fire doors need to be closed to do their job. However closed doors prevent the circulation of fresh air, which can lead to a stuffy environment. They also can be a physical and mental barrier to those with limited mobility, as well as difficult to open for those with heavy luggage or pushchairs.
In hospitals and schools, closed fire doors can easily sustain damage. Stretchers, electronic equipment, wheelchairs, beds — a lot of cumbersome apparatus needs to be quickly transported around a hospital. And children can be a little heavy-handed (or footed) with doors!
A closed, heavy fire door can be a mental barrier, as well as a physical one. For patients in hospital, or residents in care homes, a closed door to their room can lead to feelings of isolation, particularly if they are unable to move around without assistance.
Fire doors make access difficult. In residential care and sheltered accommodation, fire doors can create feelings of loneliness as people find it difficult to open them. This can lead to residents feeling trapped, forcing them to become dependent on staff. If fire evacuations don’t go to plan, this can cause serious problems.
It’s not just those who are elderly or have mobility issues that are affected. It can also be the case in university halls of residence, where socialising with fellow residents is vital when you’re new and need to make friends.
Younger school pupils or people with limited mobility may struggle to open heavy doors, and could be injured when doors close quickly. Closed fire doors can also be dangerous for staff at hotels or workers in an office carrying hot drinks or food to another room.
Fires don’t happen every day so fire doors are used as normal doors most of the time. As they are heavier than a standard door, there is the potential for injuries. If hands or other parts of your body get trapped, injuries can be severe.
Wedging fire doors is not the answer
With all of these issues, it’s no wonder that for an easier life, people look for ways to keep their fire doors open.
Fire doors are safety devices which are there to help protect lives. However, regulations state they are meant to be kept closed in case of a fire. This means people might wedge them open, which is dangerous and can result in devastating consequences.
The safe solution
Sometimes it’s easy to forget how our everyday schedules can affect fire safety, but there are simple ways that fire doors can be kept open safely, so you can enable greater access without the worry of non-compliance.
Closed fire doors perform a vital function, they prevent fires from spreading. Being able to keep them open safely improves access and quality of life for everyone. Fitting a door retainer that holds doors open and allows them to close automatically in the case of an emergency brings peace of mind and easy compliance with regulations.
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