Author : John Curtis
The Fire Safety Act 2023 introduced a new requirement to conduct annual inspections of apartment front doors that adjoin communal areas, where a building is more than 11 metres tall. These apartment fire door inspections are crucial to verify that fire doors meet safety standards and provide effective fire compartmentation. Failing to comply with these regulations can put the safety of occupants at risk, potentially with a fire with have severe consequences.
So, if your Fire Door fails its inspection- what to do....
Upon completion of the fire door inspection, owners should be provided with a copy of the Fire Door Inspection Certificate, showing the outcome. And, if your fire door fails its inspection, immediate action is crucial. A failed inspection means the fire door has lost integrity and cannot adequately fulfil its role pf securing and containing fire in its compartment. Failing to rectify faults on your fire door could lead to legal prosecution in the event of a fire incident. So, it is very important to take the necessary steps to rectify the situation promptly.
So what is fire compartmentation? Compartmentation principles explained:
The concept of fire compartmentation in fire safety and refers to the division of a building into separate compartments to prevent the spread of fire and smoke. The goal being to confine the fire to its origin thereby giving residents more time to evacuate safely. The principles are:
2. Fire-Resistant Walls:
3. Fire-Resistant Floors and Ceilings:
4. Fire Doors:
5. Fire Dampers:
6. Fire-Resistant Glazing:
7. Penetration Seals:
9. Fire-Resistant Insulation:
For full discussion on each part, see the end of the article.
How to arrange remedial works to your Fire Door
To ensure that the required remedial works are carried out correctly, it is essential to engage the services of an accredited fire door installer. These professionals have the necessary expertise and training to handle fire doors. Hiring accredited professionals will ensure the work is done to the highest standards, guaranteeing the safety of residents. You may also need to provide proof of works by a competent professional to the Managing Agent of your building.
The Fire Safety Act 2021 mandates the inspection as a service charge cost. However, it is important to note that the responsibility and cost for remedial works lie with the apartment owner. They are responsible for meeting the expenses of addressing the fire door issues and ensuring compliance with safety regulations.
Consequences of Non-Compliance
Failure to undertake the required remedial works can have serious consequences. Non-compliance can cause the authorities to take steps to enforce compliance.
In addition the Managing Agent may serve a Section 38 Repairs Notice, which formally calls for completing the necessary works within a specified time period - say 60 days. Failure to comply with a Section 38 Notice could.result in the Managing Agent.entering the property to carry out repairs to remedy the health and safety risk. If non-compliance continues, the Managing Agent may have to reported the matter to the Council Enforcement Department and/or the Fire Service. Both these departments have the enforcement powers to impose fines. Further non-compliance may lead to an application to the Court for Specific Performance, a County Court Order which would require owners to carry out the works as ordered by the Court. Whatever route is followed invariably costs of the notice and process to secure compliance will be recharged to the owner in default, including court costs and legal fees.
Persistent and deliberate non-compliance could even result in Tribunal action to determine non compliance as a breach of lease which is the first step towards potential forfeiture of the apartment lease.
Importance of Prompt Action
It is crucial to understand the importance of taking prompt action. Neglecting to address the fire door issues puts not only your life but the lives of all residents at risk, and, increases service charge costs for all residents if other measures need to be put in place, i.e., because PASS inspections cannot be obtained for 100% of residents doors.
In cases where fire compartmentation appears unsatisfactory, the Fire Service may require the implementation of a "waking watch." This involves having trained fire wardens patrol the premises at 15-minute intervals for all 24 hours of the day to ensure occupant safety. Avoiding such additional measures is in the best interest of everyone.
Post-Remedial Works Process:
Once the owners have arranged for the remedial works to be completed, documents must be provided to the Managing Agent to prove remedial works have been done. These may include:
Open sharing of these documents is crucial to demonstrate compliance and avoid potential consequences of non-compliance.
Ensuring apartment safety is vital, and complying with the Fire Safety Act 2021 is critical. Take prompt action, involve accredited professionals, and complete the documentation to uphold fire door integrity and reduce risks. Non-compliance can lead to severe legal and financial consequences. By promptly addressing fire door issues and ensuring compliance, the owners can contribute to a safer living environment for all residents.
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