According to the Equality Act 2010, schools and educational premises have a duty to make reasonable adjustments where necessary for anyone with a disability. So, what is a reasonable adjustment? And, what can schools and universities do to improve access for all and meet fire safety requirements in education?
What is a reasonable adjustment?
The Equality Act 2010 tackles disability discrimination in schools and other organisations or businesses across society. It sets out a responsibility to remove barriers experienced by someone who has a disability. Anyone who has a disability should be able to receive the same service as far as possible as someone who is not disabled. What is considered a ‘reasonable’ adjustment will depend on things like the size of the organisation, and the money and resources available. It will also depend on the needs of the individuals who attend the setting.
Reasonable adjustments and fire safety in education
The adjustments you need to make to meet legal requirements for disability and fire safety will depend on what is set out in your fire risk assessment. It will also depend on the needs of the individuals who attend your school or university.
What examples are there of reasonable adjustments in schools or higher education establishments for fire safety?
A reasonable adjustment can be:
A change to the way things are done such as a change to a rule or policy. For example, this might involve a change to an escape route.
A change to a physical or architectural feature in a building or outside areas. This could include using a fire door retainer on internal fire doors to allow easier access for all or installing visual fire alarm beacons with louder audible sirens for anyone who has a hearing impairment.
Provision of extra services or aids. This could include providing an evacuation aid such as an evacuation chair.
The type of changes and extra aids or services will depend entirely on your circumstances and the needs of the individuals who attend your school or university. Fire safety requirements will be set out in detail in your fire risk assessment and should be implemented.
Fire door retainers and the Equality Act 2010
Fire door retainers such as Dorgard are a cost-effective and easy to install solution for improving access for all in schools and universities. Fire doors are a necessity in many buildings but can be a barrier to anyone with a mobility impairment as they are heavy to operate and difficult to manoeuvre in a wheelchair.
Dorgard is certified and tested to British Standards EN1155:1997 and EN 1634. It is a legal solution for holding open fire doors. This allows easier access for everyone including any disabled users with a mobility impairment. When the fire alarm sounds in your building, Dorgard will release the fire door so that it closes and provides the usual protection. You should never wedge or prop open fire doors using an uncertified device or object. The fire doors will be unable to provide any protection if they are open when a fire starts.
The University of London’s College Hall has found Dorgard to be an effective solution to accessibility in their building.
With only a small percentage of sports clubs and gyms having a defibrillator on site, is it an important addition to your sports facility’s first aid provision? We look at the risk posed by cardiac arrest and the life saving potential of defibrillators at sports clubs, gyms or sports centres.
Why are defibrillators important for sporting clubs or gyms?
Let’s look at the facts:
Research shows that over 90% of sudden cardiac arrests in young athletes happen either during or immediately after exercise.
The average age of people suffering from a cardiac arrest is between 35 and 44. But, some younger sportspeople may have an undiagnosed heart condition.
Apart from injuries that are directly related to the sport being played, cardiac arrest is the most common cause of death in young sports people.
Having an AED close at hand can make all the difference. Research shows that using an AED within 3 to 5 minutes of a cardiac arrest can mean survival rates are as high as 50-70%. Many lives have been saved during sporting activities by having an AED present at the time of cardiac arrest. Parkrun’s collection of stories from cardiac arrest victims highlights the importance of having an AED close by.
Is it a legal requirement for sports clubs or sports centres to have a defibrillator?
Whilst it is not currently a legal requirement in the UK for sports facilities to provide an AED, it is a valuable addition to the wellbeing and protection of sports players, club members and the local community.
Choosing a defibrillator for sports clubs and gyms
Anyone can use an automatic defibrillator – no training is required. They automatically deliver the shock to the heart. It is not possible to make matters worse if they are not used correctly.
Some defibrillators like the Heartsine 360P give better protection from water which may be a consideration if they are likely to be used outside. Look out for the AEDs IP rating which shows the level of protection from dust and water.
Consider the location for your AED. It should be easy to find in an emergency so it can be accessed as quickly as possible. The location will also determine whether you need to purchase an external defibrillator cabinet or an internal defibrillator cabinet. If you are locating the AED outside or somewhere like a football clubhouse where the temperature may drop below 8⁰C, then an external storage cabinet is required. These cabinets have integral heating to ensure the defibrillator stays at the optimum temperature. Because of the heating element, outdoor cabinets need to be installed by an electrician. Internal cabinets are simpler to install, just requiring screwing or bolting into the wall.
For events like Parkrun, marathons or large tournaments, an AED with a portable protective carry case is likely to be a good option. Many defibrillators come with carry cases, but they can also be purchased separately.
Maintaining your defibrillator
Community clubs, sports centres and gyms may be concerned about providing a defibrillator because of the maintenance requirements. Defibrillators self-test on a regular basis. They will flag up any issues, so maintenance of a defibrillator is not as daunting as it may first appear. One of the main things to look out for is expiry dates for pads and batteries.
Any AED will require replacement pads and batteries as these have an expiry date which varies depending on the manufacturer. Some AEDS such as Zoll AED 3 have a 5 year pad and battery life plus if you purchase a defibrillator from Safelincs, you can receive free replacement pads.
For complete peace of mind or if there is no one to carry out a visual inspection at your sports facility, we can organise a defibrillator inspection from one of our trained engineers as often as you like.
Defibrillator cost vs benefit
Although the initial outlay for a defibrillator can seem like a lot for a community organisation or sports facility, the potential for being able to offer life-saving treatment makes it a worthy investment. Defibrillators have relatively low maintenance costs and no requirement for training (for a fully automatic defibrillator). So, after the initial installation, AEDs can provide a service to the members and community without having high-cost implications. An important and worthwhile investment!
Most of us will come into contact with fire doors in our daily life, either at home, at work or in public buildings. But how much do you know about fire doors and their role in saving lives? We’ve compiled a list of key fire door questions based on what customers ask our experts in our fire safety forum.
1. Why are fire doors so important?
Fire doors are important because they keep fire or smoke in the room or ‘compartment’ in which it started. They stop it from spreading to other areas of the building. Fire doors are an integral part of any building’s passive fire protection system.
2. What do fire doors do?
Fire doors save lives and prevent further damage to the building and its contents:
They contain the fire in the room in which it started
Fire doors keep escape routes, such as corridors, clear from fire, giving occupants of the building longer to escape and better access for the fire service
They protect the remainder of the building, its contents and other buildings nearby from further damage.
3. How do fire doors work?
Fire doors prevent the spread of fire for a specified time. They are constructed from materials that will withstand fire for either 30 minutes or 60 minutes, depending on the fire door rating. Fire doors are fitted with intumescent strips in a groove on every edge of the door or fire door frame. When a fire breaks out, the heat causes the intumescent strips to expand to fill the gap between the fire door and the frame. This seals the room and stops the spread of fire for a given time. A fire door will only work if it is closed when the fire breaks out, so you should always ensure that your fire door is fitted with an automatic door closer and a sign that identifies the door as a fire door.
4. How are fire doors made?
Fire doors are usually thicker than a standard door and most have a solid core of variable material. The construction of fire doors varies depending on the manufacture. But, the critical part is that it is tested and certified to withstand fire for at least 30 minutes. Manufacturers must have the design of their fire doors and frames tested together as a set at an approved fire door testing centre. Then they must be considered for certification. When certification is approved, every fire door set constructed to the same design specifications by that manufacturer will be fixed with a label. The label identifies the manufacturer, date of manufacture and fire rating. This label can usually be found on the top edge of the door.
5. How long do fire doors last?
Fire doors and their frames are usually tested to hold back fire for 30 minutes (FD30) or 60 minutes (FD60). Their ability to withstand fire is dependent on them being properly installed with the correct seals and fire rated hardware including fire door closers. The condition of a fire door, especially one that’s in regular use could deteriorate over time. Check your fire doors regularly and ensure any fire door maintenance is attended to promptly. Fire door inspections can help to identify non-compliant fire doors. Fire doors can have a rating greater than 60 minutes but these are not required in most situations.
6. Are fire doors a legal requirement?
Fire doors are a legal requirement in all non-domestic properties, such as businesses, commercial premises, and public buildings. They are also required in residential flats and houses of multiple occupancy. As set out by the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, building operators in England and Wales should appoint a ‘Responsible Person’ to manage their fire safety precautions. Their legal responsibilities include a duty to reduce the risk of fire spreading within the premises. Fire doors play an important part in reducing this risk in many buildings. These types of buildings should have a fire risk assessment carried out. Fire risk assessments are an in-depth review of the premises. They will highlight any fire risks with recommendations to reduce or eliminate these risks, including where fire doors should be used and what rating they should be.
7. Do I need fire doors in my house or flat?
Fire rated doors can be a great way to add extra protection against fire in your home. But are they a legal requirement?
Houses and bungalows: In many homes in the UK fire doors are not a legal requirement, however there are some exceptions. Building regulations details where fire doors should be used:
Any new build or home renovation that has three or more floors must have fire doors fitted to every habitable room that leads from a stairwell. This applies to loft conversions where an extra floor has been added to a two-storey home.
Any door leading from your home into an integral garage must be a fire door. In most domestic situations, FD30 (fire doors with a 30 minute fire rating) are sufficient.
Flats and HMOs: Your block of flats should have had a fire risk assessment carried out. This will detail which doors are required to be fire doors. Building regulations Approved Document B2 sets out the following standards:
Every flat within a block of flats or HMO should have a fire door fitted at the entrance onto the communal area.
Flats located on floors 4.5m above ground level must have a fire rated door fitted between all habitable rooms as well as the front door.
Ground floor flats do not usually need internal fire doors as long as each room has an accessible way to escape. They do still need a fire door to be fitted at the entrance if the front door opens onto a communal area such as a corridor.
FD30 fire doors (30 minute fire door rating) should be used for flats.
8. Can fire doors be painted?
Although fire doors must be fitted with fire rated hinges, locks and hardware, they do not need a special type of paint. You can paint fire doors using regular decorative paint or varnish without damaging their performance. Avoid using heat or chemical paint strippers if the intumescent seals are in place. Also avoid painting over any hinges, hardware or seals.
There is no need to compromise on style and decoration with fire doors. Choose from a wide range of glazing and finishing options including real wood veneer, Formica laminate or paint. Our fire doors can even be pre-painted in any RAL colour of your choice, saving time and hassle and giving a professional finish.
It is dangerous to ‘prop’ or ‘wedge’ open fire doors. Fire doors are fitted with self-closing devices so that if a fire breaks out, they close and will perform as intended. If a fire door is wedged open, it will not slow or stop the spread of fire. Using a fire door retainer or free-swing door closer will ensure that in the event of a fire the fire door will still automatically close, ensuring fire safety is maintained.
Fire doors can be heavy and cumbersome to operate. They can also cause accessibility issues in some buildings. Fire door retainers, like Dorgard, are a practical and legal solution to this issue. A Dorgard Fire Door Retainer can easily be fitted to an existing fire door and will hold the fire door open legally until it ‘hears’ the sound of your fire alarm. When the alarm sounds, Dorgard will release the fire door, allowing it to close, stopping the spread of fire. Fire door retainers can also help to improve ventilation.
Fire doors must be fitted by a competent individual. You should ensure that the person fitting your fire doors has had the relevant training to do so. Whatever the rating of a fire door, if it is badly fitted, it may not withstand a fire for any more than 5 minutes. There are legal requirements and specifications as set out by building regulations governing the installation of fire doors. The gap between the fire door and frame, for example, should be between 2 and 4mm. These specifications can be difficult to meet unless installation is by someone with experience and joinery skills.
The regulations around the fitting of fire doors can be confusing. Code of Practice for Fire Door Assemblies does not specify that any particular certification is required to install a fire door. However, The Fire Safety Order states that they should be installed by a competent person. That is someone with sufficient training and experience, qualifications, and knowledge.
Using a professional fire door installer will give a Responsible Person or homeowner peace of mind that the fitting has been carried out correctly and that the fire door will perform as it should in the event of a fire.