Reasonable adjustments and fire safety in education

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

According to current fire safety regulations, it is the duty of the Responsible Person for the building to provide a fire safety risk assessment that considers the needs of all of its users. It should contain an emergency evacuation plan for all people likely to be on the educational premises. This includes anyone who is disabled or has additional needs. The Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (DDA) also supports these regulations.

Evacuation chairs are a reasonable adjustment
An EVAC+CHAIR can be used to safely evacuate anyone with a permanent or temporary mobility impairment in an emergency

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.

fire doors in education
Fire door retainers can improve access for anyone with a mobility impairment

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.

Fire door retainers can be a reasonable adjustment
Dorgard Fire Door Retainers are widely used in education

The University of London’s College Hall has found Dorgard to be an effective solution to accessibility in their building.

“The Dorgard offers a low energy automatic door solution that proved to be the most cost-effective way of improving access and independence for wheelchair users.”

University of London’s College Hall

Mel Saunders

Marketing Designer

Mel joined our team at the start of 2020. She creates our marketing materials and manages our social media accounts.

10 Things You Should Know About Fire Doors

Your Fire Door Questions Answered

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.

Fire doors stop fire and smoke from spreading to other parts of the building

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.

Key facts about fire doors

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.

fire door certification labelfire door cross section detail

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.

Fire doors in schools

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.

fire door in flat or house

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.

Fire door finishesFire door wood veneer

9. Can fire doors be left open?

Fire doors can only be left open if they are held open in a legal way, such as with a fire door retainer or a hold open free-swing door closer.

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.

Dorgard Fire Door Retainers
Dorgard Fire Door Retainers
  • Hold fire doors open legally
  • Wire-free plunger based door holder
  • Certified to BS EN 1155:1997 & BS EN 1634
  • Acoustically triggered at 65dB
  • FREE extended 5 year warranty
  • FREE shipping
£81.79 ex VAT
£98.15 inc VAT
Buy Now

10. Who can fit fire doors?

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.

Fire Door Installation
Fire Door Installation
  • Certified fire door installers
  • Nationwide service
  • High standard installations
  • Fire door and frame installation
  • Experienced and knowledgeable installers
£349.00 ex VAT
£418.80 inc VAT
Buy Now

Ask a Question

Still have fire door questions? Ask an expert on our forum.

Mel Saunders

Marketing Designer

Mel joined our team at the start of 2020. She creates our marketing materials and manages our social media accounts.

Lighting the Way – Emergency Lighting Requirements

What you need to know about emergency lighting

Why is emergency lighting necessary?

As the responsible person it is your legal obligation to ensure that adequate emergency lighting is installed across all the escape routes and exits from every area of the building with a minimum backup duration of between 1 and 3 hours. Emergency lighting is essential to light escapes routes for emergency evacuations when normal mains-powered lighting fails.

Eden Bulkhead Emergency Lighting
LED Emergency Lighting Bulkhead – Eden

There are different types of emergency lights, some function as a normal light and others function only as an emergency light source. As a starting point you should know what type of emergency light you want to install for example; do you want a maintained emergency light (stays on constantly) or a non-maintained emergency light (illuminates only in the event of a mains power failure)?

Where to install emergency lights and signs

When deciding where to install emergency lights, take into account any hazards that there may be along the evacuation route, such as corners, stairways or uneven flooring. You must also ensure that fire alarm call points and equipment used for firefighting, such as extinguishers or fire blankets, are adequately illuminated to be easily seen or located. Some areas will require continued operation (e.g. a chemical processing room, operation theatre etc); higher continued lighting requirements must be considered in these areas.

Jalite photoluminescent fire exit signs
Jalite photoluminescent fire exit signs

A sub-category of emergency lighting is fire exit signs, which are green ‘running man’ signs with arrows that guide people towards the nearest exits. These are either internally lit in the same fashion as space emergency lighting or, in case sufficient other emergency lights are available, they can be photoluminescent. Such ‘glow-in-the-dark signs store energy from either natural or artificial light and releases this stored energy when the light source is no longer there, emitting a yellow/green glow to illuminate the text on the sign.

You should refer to your fire risk assessment to ensure that you have covered all the essential fire escape routes and addressed any hazards on your site that were highlighted in this assessment. It is a legal requirement to carry out a fire risk assessment and you should refresh this assessment if the activities within your premises change or if significant changes to the layout are made. You can find authoritative guidance in the government's fire risk assessment guides.

Buy emergency lights

Visit our emergency lights and signs section to view our full range of emergency lighting products.

Testing and maintenance

As with all fire safety equipment, regular testing of your emergency lights must be carried out to ensure that it is working correctly. You should test that the lights are triggered when the mains supply is cut, and also that all the lights are illuminated as they should be. This can be done with the use of a fish key.

You will need to test your lighting once a month and ensure that a full discharge test is carried once a year. Log the results as any other fire safety equipment tests in your fire safety logbook.

If you would like to know more about emergency lighting our emergency lighting guides can provide you with useful information.

Free reminder service

Sign up to our free reminder service to receive text or email reminders to regularly test your emergency lighting.

More information

Angie Dewick-Eisele

Marketing Manager

Angie has been our marketing manager since joining in 2002. She also has a keen interest in H&S issues.

Latest Posts by Angie Dewick-Eisele

Fire Exits: 10 Things Businesses Should Know19th April 2021
A Guide to Fire Safety in Offices26th February 2021
Lighting the Way – Emergency Lighting Requirements18th February 2021

Emergency Slave Lights – Explored

Slave Emergency LightingIf you’re looking for a replacement slave emergency luminaire for your centrally-powered emergency lighting system, then unless you are an expert, there is a fair chance that you have some questions in mind. Luckily for you, we have just the resource you need!

Our recently published article – Emergency Lighting Slave Units – aims to fully explain the concept of slave lighting and central battery systems, whilst also answering a broad range of questions that we have encountered over the years from our customers.
The article also explains the differences between slave lights and standard self-contained emergency lighting luminaires in plain language, and explores the pros and cons for each option.

If you want to know more about slave emergency lights or systems, then this is the article for you. A wide variety of questions are tackled, all with the intention of giving you the information you need to make knowledgeable decisions about slave lights.

Safelincs’ partnership with UK based lighting specialists Orbik has enabled us to greatly expand the range of high quality emergency lighting options we offer. This selection includes both standard (self-contained) emergency light fittings as well as the often misunderstood slave luminaires that form the focus of our new article. Regardless of which system you require, Safelincs’ website is the resource you need both for information and for replacement parts or entirely new emergency lighting systems.

For further general information regarding emergency lights, please click here. If you have a specific question that is not covered, or require a quotation for an entire emergency lighting system, please contact our friendly customer service team via support@safelincs.co.uk.

Related articles:

P50s find their way into a country retreat

An eighteenth century listed building, with an interesting history and visitors that have included Jacqueline Kennedy and Noel Coward, is the latest in a long line of establishments to take advantage of the cost savings that accrue from the installation of P50 fire extinguishers.

Turville Grange, near Henley in Oxfordshire, is the country retreat of an influential American family. The estate covers several sites including a large regency style house and is used by the family as a residence for around six months of the year. It is looked after by seven full time staff.

Buildings of this nature have high running costs and every effort is made to reduce expenses. One of the costs is fire safety; fire extinguishers are spread across the property and, over and above the initial outlay, the cost of having them serviced annually was a drain on the maintenance budget. Through a chance acquaintance, Safelincs was recommended as a company that might be able to offer a more economical solution.

Safelincs introduced the management at Turville Grange to the P50 extinguisher. Manufactured entirely from materials that will not rust or corrode, these appliances do not require an external annual service; a simple yearly check easily undertaken by one of the building’s own employees is all that is required. They also do not require a refill after five years like traditional extinguishers. Instead, after ten years, they are factory-refurbished and can then be used for a further decade.

“Installing P50 appliances will save us hundreds of pounds in maintenance costs,” said Adam Brimley, who manages the estate. “In addition, Safelincs gave us invaluable advice on the placement of the extinguishers that enabled us to significantly reduce the numbers that are required.

“Safelincs were clearly more interested in giving us good service than selling us more extinguishers than we needed.”

If you want to benefit from the cost savings the P50 extinguishers offer, contact Safelincs on 0800 612 6537 or email support@safelincs.co.uk, our professional advisers are happy to help.

Smoke alarms suitable for children

Sleeping Child Researchers at Dundee University have worked hard to develop a smoke alarm with a low pitch alarm sound and a voice message that helps to wake up children if there is a fire at night. The most successful alarm version, the researchers found, was a combined low pitch sound followed by a female voice saying ‘Wake up, the house is on fire’. A laudable project and the fruit of it will hopefully help families in the future to improve the safety of their children.

While we are greeting this development as an important break-through, we analysed the issue at hand a bit further.

Having early notification of a fire is only one element to ensure you and your children have the best chance of surviving a house fire. Teaching your children, including very young ones, what to do on hearing the alarm will prevent them from panicking and from walking out of their bedroom into a potentially dangerous situation.

You may decide that the best route of action is for your child to stay in their bedrooms and to wait for you there or for them to make their way to your room ready to evacuate. No matter what your course of action, it is imperative that children have been given clear instructions and that the fire drill is practiced.

It is essential that both parents and children get notified of a fire immediately. The best way to achieve this is to have the smoke alarms interlinked throughout the house. So, if a smoke alarm is triggered in a child’s bedroom or anywhere else in the house, the alarm would not only be raised in the bedroom of the child but also in the parents’ bedroom. Interlinking gives the maximum warning time to the parents even if, for example, a fire starts in the downstairs kitchen. This is crucial when every second counts.

Interlinking can be achieved in a traditional way with wires spanning from alarm to alarm, however, easier options are now available with battery powered radio-interlinked smoke alarms being a simple-to-install solution.

Whilst we wait for this new smoke alarm to progress through the developmental stages we should make sure that our own current fire safety precautions and evacuation plans are reviewed and where possible improved upon.

For further advice about fire safety in the home you can visit our fire prevention page.

What are deed boxes

We all own documents that we either cannot afford to lose, such as passports, marriage certificates, insurance documents and bank documents or that we just cannot bear to lose because of their sentimental value to us, such as important personal letters. Anyone who has been unfortunate enough to lose one of these items will be well aware of the inconvenience, chaos and upset this can cause.

You would not dream of exposing your valuables to theft by leaving them unattended on a window ledge. By the same logic, surely you would not willingly leave your most important documents exposed to fire or water damage either, would you?

Having read this far, you might already have begun creating a mental shortlist of the items you would choose to protect. Now imagine losing them all – at the same time. It is a scary prospect, or at least it would be were there not such a simple and cost effective means of avoiding this potential nightmare: deed boxes.

Deed boxes are designed to take valuable documents and protect them against fire damage and water ingress. Interestingly, the name ‘deed box’ persists despite the deeds of a house, the most important deeds most of us will come across in our lives, are these days usually stored by our solicitors on our behalf.

Safelincs offers a specifically designed Fire and Waterproof Deed Box which protects documents as the ones mentioned above. Suitable for A4 documents and with an internal cubic capacity of 5.4 litres, there is even ample space to store multiple CDs, DVDs or USB devices alongside your paperwork should you wish to. This protects your digital information from fire and water damage as well.
Fire and Waterproof Deed Box

 

This deed box offers all of the standard features experts agree you should look for when choosing a quality box. It can be secured by a key lock (two keys supplied) and is UL certified to protect your valuables from fire for a minimum of 30 minutes. It also protects its contents from water submersion for up to 8 hours, and is supplied with an outstanding 5 year manufacturer’s warranty.

So who is this deed box made for? The answer is anyone that values peace of mind. You’ve read the evidence and understand what is at stake. Buy your deed box right now and take advantage of our free next day delivery service. From the moment you close the lid after placing your most cherished possessions inside, you will be able to enjoy the peace of mind that a quality deed box can provide.

For further information regarding this product, please visit our website or e-mail our friendly customer service team via support@safelincs.co.uk. You can also ring us on 0800 612 6537

Fire Kills campaign moved between government departments

fire-kills-leafletIn January this year the Government announced that responsibility for fire and rescue policy would move from the Department for Communities and Local Government to the Home Office.

Included in this move is the Fire Kills fire safety campaign with which Safelincs has been partnered since 2009. Fire Kills is responsible for the promotion of fire prevention strategies in conjunction with the country’s fire services. Notably, it has continuously run a campaign to encourage people to test their smoke alarms on a regular basis. Safelincs support this with its free smoke alarm reminder service and a range of printed posters and leaflets jointly created with Fire Kills.

The reason for the move is the government’s manifesto commitment to deliver greater joint working between the police and the fire service. It is believed that this will pave the way for improvement in local fire fighting and policing by providing clear leadership, supporting greater collaboration and delivering value for money for taxpayers. It should also allow the government to share good practice more effectively in areas such as procurement and prevention.

For Fire Kills staff it will be a virtual move; they will remain in their offices in Victoria, London but will have new telephone numbers and email addresses now that they have come under the Home Office umbrella.

Safelincs will continue to support Fire Kills by campaigning to increase awareness about the dangers of fire and by publicising prevention initiatives.

 

Can Children Use Defibrillators?

children-giving-cprWe are frequently asked by our customers at what age a child can effectively use a defibrillator without supervision. After carrying out some research and interviewing a number of specialists, as well as reading relevant studies, we created an easy to understand article which gives some reasonable recommendations. While children as young as 11 to 12 can use a modern defibrillator, a child is usually around 13 to 14 years old before they can provide efficient CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation). Read the full article.

If you have any questions about defibrillators or require replacement electrodes, just call 0800 612 6537 and our friendly staff will be happy to help.

New Passive Fire Protection Resource

passivePassive fire protection (PFP) is a broad term that covers a myriad of products and concepts. As part of our desire to provide the best service and resources to our customers, Safelincs has published a comprehensive help and advice section covering all aspects of PFP.
Broken down into a series of targeted guides, this help and advice resource builds on questions raised within our fire safety forum, where passive fire protection has always been a hot topic. Specific areas covered include building regulations, compartmentalisation, furniture labelling, intumescent materials and much more.
Passive fire protection is an essential part of fire safety and is intended to help delay the spread of fire throughout a building. The integration of PFP into the fabric of a building is a legal requirement in newly built or modified properties and all commercial or public buildings.
However, there are also steps homeowners can take to slow the spread of fire throughout their property. Our guide introduces products such as fire retardant sprays which can be used to treat items like bedding and curtains to increase their fire resistance.
If you have a specific or general question about passive fire protection, our new help section is sure to contain the answer. By building on the questions raised in our forum, we have been able to tailor the information provided to the needs of real people and respond to genuine questions that relate to PFP. This gives our new PFP help and advice section a level of relevance to everyday life that is seldom found in fire and safety guides.