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

Head of Marketing

Mel joined Safelincs in 2020 and leads the content and marketing team.

Fire Door Retainers Hold Fire Doors Open Hygienically

With concerns of the coronavirus being spread through contact with door handles and hand plates, many companies and health care settings are looking for solutions to hold fire doors open; reducing the need to touch door handles, without compromising fire safety.

Fire door retainers, such as Dorgard Original and Dorgard SmartSound, hold fire doors open legally and hygienically.

Dorgard Fire Door Retainers offer easy-to-install solutions that can be fitted to an existing fire door in around ten minutes by your own handyman, without the need to book an engineer to install. By fitting your fire doors with either the Dorgard Original or the upgraded version Dorgard SmartSound, you can hold fire doors open legally and eliminate the need to open the door using the handle once the Dorgard plunger has been depressed. This reduces the risk of germs and viruses spreading. The Dorgard will let the fire door close automatically when a fire alarm sounds, as the devices recognise the sound of a fire alarm.

For settings where at night time the doors should be closed, the Dorgard can be programmed to self-close at a specific time.

Call us today to speak with a customer service adviser on 0800 612 6537.

Angie Dewick-Eisele

Director

Angie Dewick-Eisele is co-founder of Safelincs Ltd, one of the leading fire safety providers in the UK. Angie was Marketing Manager for many years and as Director is these days responsible for Content Management.

Finding a solution to cumbersome heavy fire doors

Dorgard-Main-PictureBusinesses, schools, hospitals and restaurants all have something in common – how to meet the needs of customers and staff while staying compliant with fire safety regulations. Cumbersome heavy fire doors fitted with a door closer ensure the safety of occupants and prevent the spread of fire but they cause issues for those moving from one area to another, especially when carrying heavy objects or for someone with impaired mobility.

Portland Youth Christian Outreach (PYCO), a small charitable organisation working with young people on the Isle of Portland, Dorset carried out their fire risk assessment and found that staff were wedging fire doors open to enable easy movement for staff and users and to enable staff to monitor activity in rooms. These wedges rendered the fire doors inoperative and could have led to serious prosecution for breach of fire safety related laws. Operations Manager at the centre, Zach  Williams said “Fire doors were often left wedged open as this was the only way that users could freely move around the centre and that staff could easily monitor what was happening in other rooms.”

The two main aims for the centre were to adhere to fire safety regulations and to maintain the free movement and monitoring possibility within the centre. It was identified that the Dorgard, a wireless fire door holder that is fitted to the bottom of your fire door would achieve these requirements. The Dorgard permanently holds fire doors open in the desired position. It then listens for the sound of a fire alarm and, on hearing it, lifts the plunger and allows the door closer to close the fire door. This prevents the spread of fire and smoke and gives protection to people within the building. Zach commented that “Fire doors make a real difference in protecting property, so these devices have made a great improvement to the safety of our building and all users. It allows both staff and volunteers to move around the centre with ease, without placing anyone, or the property at risk.”

Dorgard  is easily installed within 5 five minutes and, as it is battery operated, can be installed by almost anyone. This cost effective device helps with the flow of air within a building too, especially in the hot summer months.

Please view the Dorgard for more information or call 0800 612 6537. Watch this video to see how easy Dorgard is to install.

Fire Door Closers – How to Improve Ease of Movement Within Care Homes

Freedor Fire Door CloserFor those confined to care homes, moving freely within the immediate environment is essential for their well-being and self-esteem. However, fire regulations require that fire doors, such as those installed in gangways and often in bedrooms, are kept closed to prevent the spread of smoke and flames in the event of a fire. The hydraulic door closers, usually installed for this purpose, make the fire doors difficult to open for the elderly and those who require walking aids. Installing a normal fire door retainer to hold the fire door open against the pressure of a traditional door closer does not fully address this problem, as it still requires the fire door to be opened in the first place before it can be retained in the open position.

This is where Free-Swing Fire Door Closers would be more suitable. They allow the user to open and close the fire door like any other door – without any resistance. The door can also be left open in any desired position. If the fire alarm goes off the fire door will, of course, close and the occupants of the building are protected against the spread of fire and smoke.

Some of Safelincs’ Free-Swing Door Closers require wiring into the fire alarm panel to send a signal to the closer to ensure the door is closed when a fire is detected. Our Freedor Free-Swing Door Closer on the other hand, does not require any wiring at all. Similar to the well known Dorgard, manufactured by the same UK company, the Freedor ‘listens’ for the sound of an alarm system and will close the fire door as soon as the acoustic signal is received. The Freedor unit is battery powered and is also suitable for retro-fitting on existing fire doors.

Harry Dewick-Eisele, Managing Director at Safelincs, explains “The Freedor overcomes the need to install a door closer as well as a retainer. It is fitted in the same position as a traditional fire door closer and deals with the entire issue of the safe opening and closing of fire doors. It is a huge improvement for care homes but also children centres and other public spaces where traditional door closers can lead to difficulties for users.”

If you require any further information call 0800 612 6537 where our Customer Service Team are available to answer any questions you may have.

Keeping a fire door open legally… and safely

Dorgard Fire Door RetainersFire safety company Safelincs operates a website called firescout that invites visitors to submit photographs of any potentially dangerous situations they have spotted. All entries are anonymous, the idea being to educate rather than ‘name and shame’. Safelincs then offers advice as to whether the situation could incur a fine and how much, if anything, it would cost to remedy the situation.
A common misdemeanour is to prop open a fire door, sometimes with a fire extinguisher – a double transgression!

Fire doors are an essential part of the fabric of a building and have two important functions in the event of a fire; when closed they form a barrier to stop the spread of fire or smoke and when opened they provide a means of escape. They are designed to be kept closed except when people are passing through them. In some businesses, and in places such as care homes or schools, closed fire doors can act as a hindrance to general mobility and moving around to perform essential tasks. However, there is a way in which the situation can be overcome without compromising safety or breaking the law.

Safelincs provide a number of products manufactured by specialist manufacturer Fireco which allow fire doors to be kept open legally and safely. Each of these products works by responding to the sound (anything above 65 decibels) of a fire alarm; the mechanism holding the door open is released and the door closer on the fire door closes it to prevent the spread of fire and smoke spreading around the building.

Dorgard, the first innovative product from Fireco, is a wireless appliance that can be screwed to the base of a door in less than five minutes. The standalone device will then hold the door open at any angle allowing freedom of access throughout the building. Utilising acoustic technology, Dorgard ‘listens’ for a continuous alarm of 65dBA or higher which, once heard, will automatically release the door. Dorgard is available in a variety of colours and finishes which will blend in with any décor.

Fireco also produces the Dorgard Pro System which extends the versatility of Dorgard by linking several different devices and overcomes the issue of noisy workplaces. A transmitter is wirelessly installed next to a fire alarm sounder or hardwired into the fire alarm system. In the event of a fire, Dorgard Pro will wirelessly transmit simultaneously to multiple Dorgard Pro units within a 100 metre range. Safelincs will visit an organisation’s premises and undertake a free survey and make recommendations for siting an effective system.

Another product from Fireco is Freedor, a unique wire free solution that allows a door to free-swing just like a normal door and to be held open at any angle – automatically closing the door in a controlled manner when a fire alarm sounds. It utilises the same technology that is employed in Dorgard but is fixed unobtrusively to the top of the door. Using Freedor allows freedom of access throughout the building for disabled people and people less able to operate the doors, and assists businesses complying with the Equality Act 2010.

All these products have applications in a wide variety of environments and allow easy movement through a building without compromising safety or contravening fire safety regulations.

To find out more about the Fireco range go to www.safelincs.co.uk and follow the link to Fire Door and Exit Equipment or call 0800 612 6537 where there are friendly experts on hand to offer advice.

Care home fire safety ruling

After the recent BBC investigation about London care homes not meeting fire safety regulations there has been an important court ruling that will hopefully change the behavior of care home owners and increase the safety of the residents.

The issue  regarding resident bedroom doors, which must be fitted with self closing fire doors, and the risk of these fire doors being wedged open in an illegal manner was addressed. Fire doors are generally heavy and when fitted with a self closing device very hard for an elderly person to open. In the case of care homes fitting bedroom doors with these devices will restrict the mobility and independence of residents. The fear was that care home owners will then wedge the doors open to allow residents to freely move in and out of their bedrooms. This practice is illegal and the judicial ruling now stipulates that self-closing fire doors must be fitted with a device that will hold the door open and which releases the door when a fire alarm is triggered, allowing the fire door to be closed with the door closer to prevent the spread of fire.

This is ruling is paramount in ensuring the safety of vulnerable residents. The solution to this new ruling need not result in having a new system wired into the premises but can be resolved with wireless devices such as Dorgard or Freedor. Both devices are wireless and can be fitted retrospectively to fire doors without the need of an electrician.

The Dorgard can be fitted to any door with a self closing device and will hold the door open until the fire alarm sounds. At this point the door retainer will lift the plunger and the fire door will close. The Freedor works in a similar way but it acts not only as a door holder but also as a door closer, incorporating the two devices in one. This device can hold the fire door open at any angle required and will then release and close the fire door on the sounding of the fire alarm.

Both fire door retainers have a night time closing feature and have adjustable  sensitivity. As the Dorgard and Freedor are both wireless products they can be fitted by a handy man rather than a costly electrician. The Dorgard has a 5 year warranty, which is only available from Safelincs Ltd.

For more information on fire door retainers and door holders please visit our website https://www.safelincs.co.uk/dorgard-and-other-fire-door-retainers/

More information about the judicial ruling can be found at http://www.cpbsonline.eu/pressrelease/pressrelease.aspx?companyname=Fireco&title=Court+Makes+Important+Care+Home+Fire+Safety+Ruling

New FAQ Compilation for Dorgard Fire Door Retainer

The Dorgard is one of our most popular products. It helps our customers to stay legally compliant and at the same time keeps fire doors open when there are periods of high footfall or when the temperature gets stifling during the summer. The Dorgard comes with a very handy and thorough manual. Nevertheless, we do get asked a few questions and to help our customers, we now have compiled an overview of all the questions asked and the answers to them.

1.) Can the Dorgard operate at only one decibel level?

Our Dorgard reacts to a sound level adjustable between 65 dB and 85 dB, so all sounds in excess of 65 dB will activate the Dorgard. This complies with BS 5839 which gives 65 dB as the minimum sound level for fire alarms.

In situations where the ambient noise level is above 80 dB, Dorgard has a safety feature that allows it to release automatically to all sounds above 65 dB as you would probably not hear a 65 dB fire alarm over the noise level in this situation.

The Dorgard is also capable of being adjusted to operate to the sound level of an individual fire alarm making it adaptable to any particular environment.

2.) When a fire alarm sounds why does Dorgard not close the door immediately?

Dorgard only listens for a sound every 4 seconds and the sound has to be continuous for 10 seconds for it to operate. This helps to preserve the battery life of the unit and means the operation should not be delayed by any more than 14 seconds.

This compares with other similar retainers that are wired into the fire alarm system and have a built-in delay.

3.) Is the Dorgard a fail-safe product?

In the event that the batteries reach a low voltage or the battery compartment is tampered with or opened, Dorgard will automatically release its plunger, closing the door, thus making the design fail->safe. The plunger cannot be used to keep the door open if there are no batteries in the unit or the batteries have no voltage left.

When the batteries are running low, an audible warning will be sounded every 17 minutes in the form of a series of beeps and a red LED will flash to warn of the depleting batteries until they are fully exhausted, removed or replaced.

As part of your yearly regular fire alarm checks the Dorgard batteries should be renewed as required.

The Dorgard will perform its’ built in self-test by releasing the open door every 7 days.

4.) Is there a formal standard that the Dorgard complies with?

Dorgard complies with the new standard for low voltage hold open devices, BS EN 1155.

5.) Will the closing of a fire door by a Dorgard affect other units by restricting the sound through the closed door?

The operation of the Dorgard, or the ability to hear the fire alarm, should not be affected provided the sound level stated in BS 5839 is adhered to throughout the building.

Dorgards can be adjusted if the sound level does drop slightly within performance limits.

6.) Where to fit Dorgard?

Where there is a need to hold open a fire door to enable the movement and circulation of people around a building, Dorgard can be fitted to self-closing fire doors. The building must have a fire alarm and a risk assessment carried out by the employer to check the suitability of using a Dorgard as some high risk areas e.g. kitchens, boiler rooms and doors protecting a single staircase building may not be appropriate.

7.) If the fire alarm system fails how can Dorgard fail-safe?

Within the risk assessment for the building there should be an instruction that in the event of a failure in the fire alarm system all door hold-open devices should be deactivated, though this should be a rare event as the majority of systems have to have emergency backup power supplies which means they should continue to work in the event of a fault. A Do Not Use warning label should be placed over the unit when deactivated and can be removed once the fire alarm system is restored.

8.) Where a door is fitted with a Dorgard, does there need to be a smoke detector sited on each side?

For the earliest detection of fire and sounding the alarm, it is better to have smoke detectors in adjacent rooms, as the Dorgard is triggered by the sound of the alarm.

9.) Is the Dorgard suitable in sleeping risk premises?

Yes. The Dorgard can hold a fire door open to maintain the functionality of the building by allowing an uninterrupted flow of people through the building during the day and releasing the fire door to close in the evening. You can also adjust the Dorgard to automatically close at night.

10.) Can door warping be prevented by using Dorgard?

To prevent warping, Dorgard self-tests every seven days which helps to ensure reliability and alleviate stress to the door, which on doors that are wedged open for long periods of time, would cause warping. This self-testing also helps to prevent seizure of the overhead door closer by allowing it to cycle itself.

11.) Can the Dorgard test itself?

A self-test routine is run every seven days by the Dorgard. The plunger is released, closing the door and the unit will emit a warning alarm if a fault is detected.

12.) Does a fire alarm audibility test need to be carried out before fitting Dorgard?

As Dorgard is an audio sensing device that can be adjusted within certain limits, it is not necessary to carry out a test before the installation. If the Dorgard cannot “hear” the alarm to respond to it, the likelihood is that the alarm is not sounding at the minimum level required by BS 5839 which should alert the user to a problem with the alarm system that will require remedial action. The Dorgard should be removed until the alarm has been rectified to meet the minimum sound level required by the Standard.

13.) When Dorgards have been fitted should employees be made aware of them?

Employees should be informed about Dorgard and instructed on its use and operation. It should also be included in the workplace fire routine.

14.) Will the Dorgard release automatically at night?

Yes, if set to do so. There are three timed setting options for night time release which the installer can select prior to installation. The unit’s internal clock must be powered up at midday 12:00hrs to inform the unit what time it is. The installer then selects the setting required by activating a switch on the unit and Dorgard will then release each night at the pre-determined time. The unit will not be operational as a door retainer until it automatically resets itself the following morning.

Dorgard now with Exclusive 5 Year Warranty

Safelincs Ltd always want to give their customers the best value possible. This is achieved by sourcing high quality products and offering customers a service that exceeds our competitors.

The Dorgard is no exception to this. We are now offering the Dorgard with a FIVE year warranty, compared to industry standard of only one year.  This coupled with our free shipping on all Dorgard orders shows our commitment to offering a service above and beyond expectation.

For more information on Dorgards, please follow this link:

https://www.safelincs.co.uk/dorgard-and-other-fire-door-retainers/