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.
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.
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.
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.
For any fire doors purchased from Safelincs, we can offer a certified installation service carried out be qualified fire door installers. Fire doors should be installed correctly to ensure proper compartmentation.
Nationwide service carried out by certified fire door installers
Installation for all fire door sets & hardware purchased from Safelincs
Complete fire door and frame installation available
Fire door retainers have many benefits. They can help businesses to comply with fire door regulations, providing easy access for everyone and improving ventilation. In larger premises, maintaining a lot of individual fire door retainers could become a headache. Dorgard Pro fire door retainer system provides a solution, allowing central control of all the fire door retainers. It gives peace of mind that should a fire break out anywhere on-site, all the fire doors will automatically close.
How does it work?
The Dorgard Pro core system is made up of a central transmitter (Fireco ProHub) and fire door retainers (Dorgard Pro). The central transmitter can be wired directly into your existing fire alarm panel. Or, if this is not an option, the Fireco ProHub can be acoustically activated. When the ProHub is activated by the fire alarm, it communicates wirelessly to every Dorgard Pro fire door retainer. The wireless signal alerts each Dorgard Pro to release, ensuring that all fire doors close automatically. The status of each Dorgard Pro is monitored by the central transmitter and it will instantly alert you to any faults or low batteries.
Dorgard Pro fire door retainers are installed on existing fire doors throughout your premises. They have a carpet-friendly design and are battery powered by a 5 year ‘fit and forget’ battery. The Dorgard Pro retainers are not affected by high levels of background noise. They allow fire doors to be held open legally at any angle to improve access and ventilation throughout the building.
Flexibility for bespoke configuration
Fireco ProHub can also be linked to the InSite cloud based remote monitoring software. This software gives you the ability to monitor the live status of the system from your mobile phone or laptop, anywhere in the world!
Typically a Fireco Prohub has a range of up to 50m, depending on the type of environment. Fireco ProExtenders can be added to give a greater range for larger buildings. This allows up to 500 Dorgard Pro retainers to be controlled in one system. In addition, should premises be extended, extra units can be added any time after the initial installation to expand the system.
For added flexibility, Freedor Pro can also be added to the system. Freedor Pro is a free swing door closer which takes the weight out of heavy fire doors and can hold doors open at any angle. In the same way as the Dorgard Pro, Freedor Pro can also be centrally controlled by the ProHub.
Is it suitable for my premises?
The Dorgard Pro system is ideal for lots of environments, including schools and universities, hospitals and care homes, manufacturing, offices, hotels and hospitality, retail and public buildings. As it is unaffected by noisy environments and can be centrally controlled, the system is very versatile. Therefore, it lends itself to large sites where monitoring of each individual fire door retainer would be time consuming and difficult to manage.
As the Dorgard Pro system works in conjunction with your existing fire alarm and fire doors, there is no need for additional disruption or equipment. The wireless communication also means that there is very little wiring, if any (depending on how you connect the ProHub to the alarm panel) involved in the installation.
How do I get a quote?
Firstly, to provide you with a quotation, an engineer needs to visit your site to carry out a survey. The survey is free of charge and means we can design a system that is suited to your environment. Next, we will provide a quotation based on your system design.
If you decide to install Dorgard Pro, our team of engineers will come to your site and fit the system. Once it’s up and running, the Dorgard Pro system requires very little maintenance. Safelincs provides an exclusive 7 year extended warranty for added peace of mind.
Book a FREE site survey now!
Get in touch now to book your free site survey or find out more. Call 0800 612 6537 or fill out our short Dorgard Pro booking form to register your interest. After receiving your form, a member of our customer service team will be in touch to arrange the survey.
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.
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 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.
Businesses, 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.
For 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.
Fire 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.
The issue of fire doors and fire exits can be confusing for non-professionals in fire safety. If you have to replace some of the doors in your premises with fire doors or you have to improve egress from a building with panic bars on fire exits, it will be helpful to have a clear understanding of the differences between fire doors and fire exits.
A fire door is an internal door, whose purpose is to i) create/protect an escape route through a building in a fire situation; and ii) compartmentalise a fire, to stop flames and smoke spreading from one section of the building to another. Examples of locations of fire doors include stairwells, where they protect the stairs from corridors opening on to them; kitchens/catering facilities, storage areas that house combustible materials such as paper and card, and boiler rooms.
Fire doors have to be kept close at all times unless certified fire door retainers are installed (not just a door wedge!) which hold the fire door open until a fire alarm is set off.
Certified fire doors of solid timber construction are designed to resist the smoke and flames of a fire for a minimum specified length of time, typically 30 minutes (FD30), when closed. Because a fire door is not simply a block of wood in a frame but an assembly of fire resistant parts – door leaf/leaves, door frame, hardware (e.g. locks, latches, hinges, etc), any glazing, smoke/intumescent seals and an automatic closing device – it is also known as a fire doorset.
A fire exit door on the other hand, is an external door; it can be left open and does not have to be fire resistant. The purpose of the fire exit door is to allow a quick and un-hindered escape through a well lit door into a place of safety while stopping un-authorised access from the outside. Fire exits doors should open easily and, wherever possible, in the direction of traffic flow. If it is a security door that is usually kept locked but will be used by members of the public in an emergency situation, it will have to be fitted with a panic or push bar. By enabling the swift passage of people to a place of safety, the final exit door will have performed its function; it does not have to be a fire door to accomplish this. Fire exit doors can also be opened from the outside, if for example a panic bar with a key lock override is fitted. Fire exits must never be obstructed and have to be clearly marked and well lit. Best practice dictates that fire exit signs are fitted above fire exits.