Rob Adams from Arrone, shares best practice guidance for making sure door closers within student halls of residence comply with the latest safety standards
Door closers play an integral part in making sure doors open and close effectively. In the event of a fire, a firmly closed fire door helps to slow down the effects of flames and smoke, with the Government stating that: ‘Fire doors are one of the most important measures to safeguard the means of escape from fire.’
Fire prevention within halls of residence is widely recognised as being a key responsibility for universities. New legislation – The Fire Safety (England) Regulations 2022 – came into force on 23rd January 2023 to introduce new duties on building owners and managers acting as the Responsible Persons.
The regulations are an important step in actioning the recommendations made in the Grenfell Tower Inquiry Phase One report and have been implemented under Article 24 of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (Fire Safety Order).
All Responsible Persons working in multi-occupied, multi-storey buildings over 11 metres tall are legally required to conduct quarterly checks of all fire doors within communal areas and, on a best endeavour basis, annual checks of all entrance doors leading on to communal areas.
The checks apply to self-closing doors and cover every aspect of fire and entrance doors, including the essential hardware: hinges, locks or latches and door closers. Guidance published by the Government states that the checks should consider:
- If there have been any alterations or damage to a fire door’s glazing apertures or air transfer grille;
- If there are any gaps around the door frame and that seals and hinges are fitted correctly;
- That the door closer shuts the fire door;
- That the fire door closes correctly around the whole frame; and
- That there is no visible damage to the door or door closer.
Responsible Persons should also inform students about the importance of keeping fire doors closed at all times and ask them not to tamper with the doors. Clear information should also be distributed to students about what to do if any of the doors are faulty or damaged in any way and who to notify.
Fire doors should not be wedged open under any circumstances. If a door must be kept open, for instance, because it is in a high traffic area, then the use of an overhead electromagnetic door closing device would provide an acceptable and safe solution. This is a product type that will ensure the door is held open and automatically closes the door when the fire alarm is triggered, all in accordance with fire safety and legal requirements.
As is the case with all fire safety measures, it is essential that fire and entrance doors and the associated hardware, particularly the door closers, are kept in good working order. Regular inspections, as stipulated by the new regulations, play an important role in making sure wear and tear that may lead to defects are immediately detected and repaired.
The guidance is aimed at making sure all responsible persons with a duty to conduct fire door and entrance door checks within halls of residence carry out robust inspections of their door closers. This involves asking themselves the following key questions:
- Is the closer fitted in the correct position?
- Is it still attached correctly to the door and frame or has it become loose or dropped?
- Has it been damaged in any way?
- Does it allow the door to open smoothly?
- Does it close the door in a controlled manner?
- Are all of the screws and other fixings still tightly in place?
- And, are there any signs of fluid on the outside of the door closer or on the face of the door?
When a door closer doesn’t function properly, it directly impacts the performance of the fire door it has been fitted to. For instance, the door opening too slowly or closing too quickly or only partially opening and closing, makes it less effective in the event of a fire.
More specifically, faulty door closers can result in doors not latching correctly when opened to 5° or 75 mm, taking too long to close (within 25 seconds is considered best practice) and not easily opening by up to at least 70°.
Door closers are essential for making sure fire and entrance doors are fully functional and, more importantly, ensuring fires are contained as much as possible within halls of residence to ensure the safety of its occupants.
Rob Adams is technical manager for Arrone