Hospitals and care homes warned of dangers of badly-damaged and poorly-adapted fire doors
A UK care home has been awarded the dubious honour of ‘Dodgy Fire Door Of The Year’ as part of a safety campaign aimed at improving the standard of fire security measures in public buildings.
A photo of a fire door at the unnamed care home exposes the worst type of ‘adaptation’, according to safety campaigner, Theodore Firedoor.
Part of the door has been neatly cut away in order to fit a stair lift, rendering it completely useless. This fire door would offer no protection for the building users and a fire would spread rapidly.
The number of prosecutions we are seeing shows a frightening lack of awareness among building owners about their responsibilities under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order
Like that one, more than 40 photos of dodgy fire doors were submitted to the Theodore Firedoor Facebook page last year.
As well as the ‘winning’ monstrosity, two badly-damaged fire doors in a hotel and a hospital also stood out in the top three most-shocking pictures to be received in 2013.
The hospital fire door had obviously been repeatedly damaged due to the high volume of traffic passing through. It was damaged down to the core and in the event of a fire its effectiveness would be greatly compromised.
The Theodore Firedoor campaign was launched by the Fire Door Inspection Scheme (FDIS) last April to publicise the widespread problems of ill-fitting, damaged and poorly-maintained fire doors.
Neil Ashdown, manager of FDIS, said: “Of course the consequences of such poor fire door maintenance are much greater than just getting a photo posted onto Facebook. Theodore Firedoor has made visible an epidemic of dodgy fire doors in all sorts of buildings and across all parts of the UK, and where such safety breaches occur, prosecutions are sure to follow.
“The number of prosecutions we are seeing shows a frightening lack of awareness among building owners about their responsibilities under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order, or RRO as it is often known. Dodgy fire doors are usually just one of many signs of fire safety negligence.
“This matches the experience of FDIS Certificated Inspectors who are now providing professional fire door inspection services to a wide range of clients in England. Thankfully, FDIS inspectors are much in demand and are helping to transform knowledge and understanding about the critical role of fire doors and how they can save lives and protect property.
Theodore Firedoor has made visible an epidemic of dodgy fire doors in all sorts of buildings and across all parts of the UK, and where such safety breaches occur, prosecutions are sure to follow
“FDIS Inspectors can carry out on-site inspections of installed fire doors in existing or new buildings. This is an essential part of any fire risk assessment required by law to be done by a building’s Responsible Person.”
Analysis by FDIS of the RRO prosecutions last year suggests that ill-informed or negligent property owners are more likely than ever to receive large fines or even significant prison sentences. Courts are able to hand out unlimited fines and up to two years in jail. The most-frequent fire door offenders in 2013 were small business owners running rented accommodation above shops and landlords operating houses in multiple occupation.
However, the largest fine issued in 2013 was £50,000 to the owner of Abbey College in Malvern which the judge said had ‘woefully inadequate’ fire safety measures that included ‘non-functional fire doors in student sleeping areas’.
The longest prison sentence was a 15 month suspended sentence given to the owner of a takeaway in Croydon who was found guilty of committing a string of fire safety offences in his premises including no fire doors to the bedrooms on the first and second floors. Munawar Ahmed was also fined £40,000 and ordered to do 100 hours of unpaid work.
The most-tragic case resulted in the death of a seven-year-old boy in one of many properties without fire doors owned by a landlord in Kettering. The landlord was jailed for nine months and also ordered to pay £7,500 in costs.
Thankfully, FDIS inspectors are much in demand and are helping to transform knowledge and understanding about the critical role of fire doors and how they can save lives and protect property
Other cases included a fine of £48,000 for owners of a nursing home in Liverpool for putting the safety of elderly residents at risk with various actions including ‘having wedged-open and defective fire doors’.
Ashdown urges building owners, including landlords, care homes, hotels and hospitals, to use the services of a FDIS inspector.
“An FDIS Certificated Inspector will carry out a fully comprehensive inspection of all your fire doors, well documented with recommendations for remedial guidance if called for. This help and guidance is invaluable when compiling the overall risk assessment for the building,” he said.
In the meantime, the Theodore Firedoor campaign is continuing in 2014 and will publish more pictures of dodgy fire doors.
Dozens of images of damaged or poorly-maintained firedoors were uploaded to Theodore Firedoor\'s Facebook page last year