Steps to check fire doors in your rental property

As discussed in our recent blog, ‘Fire door safety – what are a landlord’s responsibilities?’ fire doors can make the difference between life and death. Landlords should not underestimate their legal responsibilities when it comes to fire safety.

Fire door safety is extremely important as an incorrectly manufactured, fitted or maintained door can seriously impact on its ability to protect occupants in the event of a fire. It is important that fire doors are correctly certified with a performance certificate, properly installed by a qualified contractor and regularly maintained throughout the tenancy. Landlords should also advise tenants on how to ensure fire doors are working as intended, for example by reminding them not to prop them open. It is up to the landlord to explain to their tenant that they should get in touch if they spot any issues with fire doors in the property as soon as possible, so that they can be rectified by the landlord.

Landlords can carry out a simple ‘5 step fire door check’ as recommended by Fire Door Safety Week. This includes:

 

1. Is the door certified?

Be sure to look out for a label or plug on the top or side of the door. This will help you to ascertain whether the door is a certified fire door. Without a certification mark you cannot be sure that the door is in fact a fire door and therefore whether it will protect your tenant and property adequately in the event of a fire.

 

2. It is important to make sure that the gaps around the top and sides of your fire doors are consistently less than 4mm when they are closed

You can test this by running a £1 coin between the frame and fire door to check. Fire Door Safety Week also points out that the gap under the door can be slightly bigger (up to 8mm), but this is dependent on the type of door you have. It is important to note that you should not be able to see any light under the door. If you can this is an indication that the gap is too big and must be rectified to avoid smoke escaping through. It is also a good idea to seek advice from an expert contractor to ensure that no smoke or fire would be able to penetrate through the doors on installation.

 Steps to check fire doors in your rental property

 

3. All fire doors should have intumescent seals around the door or frame

Take a look at the edges to see if you can see this sealant. The seals work by expanding when in contact with heat, which can help to minimise fire and smoke filtering through the cracks.

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4. Are your hinges compliant?

Fire doors should have three or more firmly fixed hinges. Be sure to check that there are no broken or missing screws which could impact on the efficiency of the fire door. This may be caused by wear and tear so it is important to check on a regular basis.

 

5. Fire doors should close completely

A fire door that is obstructed or doesn’t close fully offers no protection. Make sure that fire doors close firmly. You can test this by simply opening and letting the door go to assess its range.

Remember that it is vital to carry out regular inspections of the property to check for general fire safety as well as checking fire doors. It is also important to advise tenants to report any issues as soon as possible and above all to remind them not to wedge open any fire doors.

View the full Fire Door Safety Week fire door safety check infographic here.

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In addition, Allegion – who specialise in security for homes and businesses – report that research shows 53 per cent of people would not know how to spot a substandard fire door. As a result they also recommend checking the following:

  • Inspect door handles and panic bars – these should be easy to use and not stiff, broken or inaccessible
  • Does your door rattle? Perform a rattle test on your fire door. You should not be able to rattle a correctly fitted fire door. If it is not closed firmly into the frame then there is the potential for fire and smoke to escape posing a significant risk to your tenants
  • Fire doors should naturally swing shut due to manual door closers. These also need to be installed correctly to work efficiently
  • Fire doors should be easily identifiable and labelled, are yours? – this also reminds tenants to keep the doors closed at all times
  • It is important, even in a private home, to work out a quick escape route in the event of a fire. Pre-planning your fire exit helps to ensure that all tenants have a clear route to exit the building. If a particular route is blocked or inaccessible in any way measures can be taken to resolve this sooner rather than later. This can save lives in the event of a fire in the property, especially if occurring during the night when visibility is already reduced.

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How to reduce the risk of fire in your property

There are a number of ways that landlords can also help to minimise the overall risk of fire in the property.

  • Make sure to carry out regular PAT (portable appliance testing) on all appliances as well as carrying out annual visual checks of switches and sockets in the property
  • Remind tenants not to overload sockets with multiple appliances
  • Suggest that tenants should switch off and unplug any appliances they are not using
  • When a tenancy begins all smoke alarms must be working, make sure to remind tenants to then test these at regular intervals (once a month) and either change the batteries or get in touch if they are not working
  • Remind tenants to keep naked flames, such as candles, away from furnishings and placed in an area where they cannot be easily knocked over
  • Make sure you are compliant with government regulations and your obligations as a landlord. You can find out more in ‘Legislation for landlords: Everything you need to know’.

Visit our winter landlord advice page for more information on how you can protect your property from fire and other winter perils.

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