Thursday 8th September 2022
As September approaches, a new cohort of students prepares to move away from home for the first time and are thinking about what to pack for university. Surprisingly some universities are suggesting students pack a door wedge to prop fire doors open to increase sociability and mobility. However, this presents serious fire safety risks.
Don’t pack a door wedge!
Wedging fire doors open is dangerous. Students are already likely to prop open fire doors due to their impracticality. Encouraging a student to pack a door wedge increases this risk even further. Students find that fire doors can slam shut causing sleep disturbance, they limit socialisation, and can be inconvenient when moving in and out of the building. But, if fire doors are illegally propped open in university accommodation a fire could quickly spread, endangering lives.
Why are fire doors important?
Fire doors provide a barrier to toxic smoke and flames for between 30 and 60 minutes, allowing time for students to safely evacuate the building and for fire services to arrive. Not only does this save lives, but it also protects the building from irreversible damage. However, the doors cannot function if they are incorrectly wedged open. Fire will rapidly spread if a fire door is wedged open and unable to close. Despite these risks, 64% of premises visited by the fire services were found to use inappropriate and illegal ways to hold fire doors open. 80% of students living in university accommodation admitted to frequently ignoring fire safety regulations whilst living in university accommodation, making them seven times more likely to have a fire. To reduce this risk students should be educated on the importance of fire doors and how to spot and prevent fire doors from being illegally propped open.
How can you safely hold fire doors open?
Fire doors can be legally held open with a fire door retainer. A fire door retainer, such as a Dorgard is a legal way to hold fire doors open. Dorgard ‘hears’ the fire alarm when it sounds and will automatically allow the fire door to close in the event of a fire. This allows students more freedom to socialise within university accommodation, whilst ensuring fire safety regulations are met.
Students should ensure that only safe and legal methods are used to hold fire doors open in their accommodation and should report illegal practices. Why not ask the university if they have fire door retainers installed? If a door wedge is on your child’s university packing list, make sure that is one item you don’t send them off with.