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Fire Doors – A life-saving device that shouldn’t be overlooked

In October Minister John Paul Phelan launched the annual National Fire Safety week and grimly advised that on average 36 people die each year as a result of fire in Ireland. He added that most people who die in fires, die from smoke inhalation and not from burns and it can take as little as three minutes to die from smoke inhalation. Irish building regulations have stated that fire safety measures such as automated fire detection and alarm systems, smoke and heat ventilation systems or automated suppression systems may play a critical role in the fire safety strategy of a building and therefore should be managed effectively during the lifetime of the building. It should also be considered equally important to manage ‘passive’ fire safety systems, i.e. anything within the fabric and construction of the building that provides fire protection, including components such as fire doors, shutters, dampers etc. This is to ensure that the natural deterioration of a building over time will not impair the effectiveness of such fire safety measures.

Fire Doors are an integral part of any building and are considered a fire safety device that save lives and protect property. Although fire doors are a vital part of a building’s passive fire protection strategy, they are unfortunately neglected. In 2017 KCC Architectural launched their Fire Door Inspection service across Ireland and Northern Ireland and Managing Director Chris Kilpatrick says “It is alarming to see the number of incorrectly installed and improperly maintained fire doors in publicly-occupied buildings across Ireland, including hospitals, shopping centres, hotels and most alarming of all, schools. As a parent and grandparent, that scares me the most.”

The fire door inspection service KCC offer to clients came as a natural add-on to their existing capabilities in service and maintenance. “We work with clients across all of these sectors and our knowledge of building regulations and compliance, in addition to our inspection qualifications, enables us to provide clients with a comprehensive report detailing all areas of non-compliance and any areas which may require repair or replacement”, advises Chris.

Fire doors are manufactured to withstand the spread of fire for a specific timeframe. This allows time for inhabitants of a building to escape via a protected passageway. Each fire door is specifically built to resist the passage of smoke and fire for a set period of time, depending on its location and purpose within a building. Correctly maintaining fire doors will assist in containing the area affected by fire and will buy precious time during an emergency evacuation. According to UK and Irish legislation, Fire Doors should be inspected at least every 6 months and the responsibility lies with the building owner. An important question to ask ourselves is, do you know who is responsible in your premises and when was the last time you had your fire doors checked?

In normal circumstances, fire doors won’t be to the forefront of a building managers mind because they provide the same function as any other door. It is not uncommon to find fire doors wedged open or damaged at multiple points and while this won’t be a problem in typical daily life, it can have serious and devastating repercussions in the event of an actual fire. A breakout of fire is never predictable and the fire door must be capable of providing its prime purpose – to protect lives and offer a guarded, secure passage to safety.

“Our teams in Dublin, Cork and Belfast operate nationwide and are available for site inspections and consultations if you want to find out if your fire doors are working effectively”, says Chris. “We should be able to feel safe in our workplace, our homes, apartment blocks, hotels, shopping centres, schools and everywhere else. It is the moral obligation of building owners to ensure that employees, guests and all other occupants have a safe escape route from a building in the event of a fire emergency. Far too often, these things are not looked at until it’s too late.”

If you would like further information on the importance of maintaining fire doors in your building, you can contact KCC Architectural’s Inspection team on

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