Author : Mary-Anne Bowring
Since last year's Grenfell Tower tragedy, fire safety in blocks of flats has been right at the top of property managers' agendas. The issue of whether or not the front doors to people's homes are compliant with fire safety regulations has been looked at in detail during the long-running Grenfell inquiry and the government is now carrying out an investigation into the fire door industry. Testing of fire doors to make sure they meet the standard required by the Building Regulations started in October and, so far, none of the doors has failed the tests.
While testing is ongoing, the National Fire Chiefs Council says that the additional risk to public safety is low and in the event of a fire, people should continue to follow the existing fire procedures for their building. The NFCC advises that smoke alarms should be tested regularly and the front doors to flats should ideally be fitted with a working self-closing device. Your property manager is responsible for ensuring that the fire doors in your block are working correctly. As with any life-saving product, a fire door should be tested in the same way as emergency lighting, a smoke or fire alarm, or a fire extinguisher would be. Any slight alteration to the door or its surroundings can affect its performance. But there are also things residents can do themselves to make sure their building is safe.
First, be vigilant. Don't leave fire doors in the common areas propped open and do alert your property manager if you think any of them is faulty - for example one is not closing properly or is damaged in some way. Here are some things to look out for:
Other issues that can increase the chance of a fire spreading through a block of flats are:
Unless your block has on-site staff, it's possible for problems that could impact on fire safety to be missed. So for the sake of you and your neighbours' peace of mind, it's important to take responsibility yourself and not assume that fire safety is always someone else's problem.
Mary-Anne Bowring FIRPM FRICS FARLA FCABE Founder/Head of Asset Management
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