New Fire door regulations in multi-occupied residential buildings in force from 1st October 2023
Introduction: In a significant move towards enhancing fire safety in multi-occupied residential buildings in England, new regulations came into force on October 1, 2023. These regulations, made under Article 24 of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, address critical aspects of fire safety, with a particular focus on fire door inspections. This article summarizes the key points from the UK Government's fact sheet to provide residents and interested parties with an understanding of these essential changes.
Why These Regulations Were Implemented: The impetus behind these regulations stems from the Grenfell Tower Inquiry, which underscored the pivotal role that fire doors play in safeguarding lives and property during a fire. It was noted that inadequate fire doors had contributed to the spread of smoke and toxic gases in Grenfell Tower. Consequently, Recommendations 33.29 (a) and (b) emphasized the urgent need for inspections and regular checks of fire doors, including self-closing devices.
The Fire Safety (England) Regulations 2022: Effective from January 23, 2023, these regulations mandate responsible persons in multi-occupied residential buildings over 11 meters in height to undertake the following:
Quarterly checks of all fire doors in common areas, including self-closing devices.
Annual checks of all flat entrance doors leading to common areas on a best endeavor basis.
Providing residents with information on the significance of fire doors for building fire safety.
Expanding Scope: Prior to the Fire Safety Act 2021, flat entrance doors were not consistently included in fire risk assessments. However, these regulations now unequivocally establish that flat entrance doors fall within the scope of the Fire Safety Order. As a result, responsible persons must perform best endeavor annual checks on these doors to ensure they meet current standards.
Access Challenges: While these regulations impose important responsibilities on responsible persons, access to residents' flats can sometimes pose challenges. In such cases, responsible persons are encouraged to work collaboratively with residents to gain access for inspections. It is crucial to document all efforts to discharge this duty, including correspondence seeking permission for access.
Minimum Requirements for Fire Door Inspections: Fire doors play a critical role in containing fires and smoke within buildings. The responsible person must conduct inspections to identify any apparent damage or issues. These checks should encompass:
Inspection of door glazing apertures and air transfer grilles.
Verification of correct seal and hinge placement.
Ensuring proper operation of door closers.
Confirming that the door closes securely around the frame.
Detecting any visible damage, whether deliberate or from wear and tear.
If issues are identified during these checks, further inspections, possibly involving specialists, may be necessary.
Regulations for Buildings Below 11 Meters: It is essential to note that the regulations apply to residential buildings below 11 meters in height as well. Responsible persons in such buildings are obligated to implement general fire precautions, including ensuring the adequacy of all fire doors, including flat entrance doors.
Information for Residents: Responsible persons are required to provide residents with crucial information. This information should stress the importance of keeping doors closed, avoiding tampering with doors and self-closing devices, and reporting any faults or damage immediately. Residents will receive this information upon moving into multi-occupied residential buildings and annually thereafter.
Conclusion: The new regulations, effective from October 1, 2023, prioritize fire safety in multi-occupied residential buildings in England, with a specific focus on fire door inspections. These measures are a significant step toward preventing the spread of fire and smoke, as well as enhancing the safety of residents and their property. It is crucial for all responsible persons and residents to be aware of and adhere to these regulations to create safer living environments for all.