In any building, fire doors play a vital role in allowing people to escape and rescue workers access in the event of a fire. Fire doors also serve as a passive protection system to control the spread of fire and smoke. In short, they are vital to protecting property and saving lives. But they cannot do so if they are faulty, broken, or simply propped open.
Building owners have a legal and moral duty to ensure fire doors are in place and functioning as they should within their properties. As such, routine fire door inspections take place.
If you are the responsible person for a building, you must understand this process and how it is done. In this article we will address the importance of fire door inspection training, online health and safety training options, the duties of a fire door inspector, and how you may be able to learn to assess doors yourself.
Why are Fire Door Inspectors Needed?
Some 15,815 non-residential fires were recorded in the UK between 2016 and 2017. In more than 9,000 of these cases, the damage was contained to just two floors or less. In over 2,500 cases, the entire building was burnt. In the cases where damage was limited, it was the fire doors that made the difference. Properly installed and maintained, they did their job.
But, unfortunately, it doesn’t take much to cause a fire door to fail. While we think of a fire door as one part of a building, they are, in fact, complex systems made up of many smaller, vital components. If any one of these components fail, such as the hinges or seals, so can the door.
Due to their importance, ensuring fire doors are in place and working is also the law. Fitting fire doors was made mandatory for all building owners under Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. The legislation states they must be installed by a certified person in all non-domestic buildings, domestic dwellings over two stories high, and mixed-use buildings.
Regulation 17 of the Reform requires property owners to implement a suitable system of maintenance for keeping fire doors in an efficient state. Inspections of fire doors are vital to this process.
What Does a Fire Door Inspector Do?
The job of a fire door inspector is to assess each of the components of a fire door to gauge if it can still function as a whole and do its job. Each component has its own criteria that must be met. If any part isn’t adequate, the whole door fails inspection.
After inspection, the results must be recorded and then the findings should then be passed on to the responsible person. It is the job of the responsible person to decide what to do. If immediate action is required, it must be taken.
What Parts of a Fire Door Must Be Inspected?
The range of components and factors on a fire door that must be checked include:
- Rating and Certification: The inspector should ascertain what the rating is of the door and if it is properly certified. The rating must suit the requirement of the building.
- Seals and Gaskets: Intumescent seals and gaskets which expand in a fire to prevent fire and smoke from leaking through must be correct and in place.
- Frame: Inspect the door frame for holes or breaks
- Glazing and Glass Kit: Check that the glazing and glass kit are intact and securely fastened.
- Hinges: Ensure the hinges are connected to the hardware in working order
- Door Closer: Check that the door closer is correctly installed and operating as it should.
- Gaps: All of the gaps around the door must be within allowable limits to prevent fire and smoke from leaking through.
- Closing Sequence: Ensure the door closes in proper sequence, which includes latching securely as required.
- Auxiliary Hardware: Check if any auxiliary hardware items interfere with the door’s operation
- Door Signage: Check if any signage on the door is covering less than 5% of the surface
- Modifications: Holes drilled in a door or the installation of accessories by an unqualified person will automatically void a door.
How to Become a Fire Door Inspector?
As with much health and safety law, the prime requirement to be a fire door inspector is competency. Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 describes competency in the following manner:
A person is to be regarded as competent for the purposes of this article where he has sufficient training and experience or knowledge and other qualities to enable him properly to assist in undertaking the preventive and protective measures.
In other words, the law does not require any formal certification or technical background requirement specifically. However, it is clear that you must have a basic understanding of door structures. This includes an intermediate level of knowledge on door frames, hinges, hardware products, door applications, and relevant safety laws.
These are knowledge and skills that can be learned. And there are various authorised institutes offering fire door inspection training to allow anyone to learn to inspect fire doors. The training provider should be approved and accredited by UK’s health and safety bodies.
There are two ways you can get training:
On-site training is offered to learners through an instructor/trainer present in a classroom setting. This type of training is usually held on-campus to accommodate large groups of learners. One of the main advantages of classroom training is that it provides practical demonstrations, which help to reinforce theoretical concepts.
That being said, there are also downsides to classroom training:
- Time: Since training is given at on-site campus locations, there may be limited availability of classroom dates and spaces. There is also the added inconvenience of travelling to the location of the training.
- Cost: The cost of in-person training is generally higher than online options.
- Inconsistency of training: Instruction and teaching style can vary from one trainer to the other. In my own experience with fire door classroom training, the instructor brushed over many important areas, while missing out on some key areas that I would have liked to have a more detailed explanation for.
- Classroom restraints: Only so many concepts can be covered in a limited time which can stretch thin, in particular, if you or the other participants have many questions. In larger classroom settings, it may be difficult to view the practical elements.
- Testing & Certification: Testing in classroom settings tend to use classic paper and pencil given in one pass or fail assessment. Digital record-keeping of assessments is not usually offered.
eLearning options for fire door training are now becoming more available. These offer much greater flexibility to prospective learners in that you do not need to travel to a training facility or study when courses are available. While you may lose out on seeing in-person demonstrations of doors, you may be surprised to learn that online training can provide a more thorough representation of the information.
Some reasons why are that:
- Standardisation: Online course content has been reviewed by experts and approved. It is the same every time. Whereas in a classroom setting, you do not know what type of instruction you will get. He may be an expert, but lack presentation skills or simply forget vital information.
- Easily reviewable: You can review the concepts and sections as many times as you like. Classroom sessions are generally treated as a one off. Paper forms may be provided but these can be easily lost.
- 3D CGI & High-quality Images: Some online training programmes, such as the course offered by Human Focus, use 3D images to demonstrate specific parts on a fire door. This makes it easier to get in close and see what you need to see.
- Digital Records: Your certification and the information covered are recorded on the digital system. If you have need them, they are available anytime.
- Tools for Inspection: Online providers may also provide digital tools, such as e-checklists to support you in the field when you actually are conducting inspections. This will give you the confidence that you are not missing vital points. It will also ensure a clear record of the inspection.
Why Choose Human Focus
Completing Human Focus’ Fire Door Inspection Online Training programme will enable you to ensure the doors you inspect are functional and legally compliant.
It includes key points on maintaining fire door safety performance and helps you to comply with internationally recognised fire and life safety standards. The programme is RoSPA approved and covers several aspects of fire door safety, including installation, door performance, maintenance, associated hardware, and basic components such as hinges, closers, and arms.
The training is composed of comprehensive video lectures followed by interactive quizzes and an end of course knowledge test.
Human Focus also offers additional fire safety training including:
- Online Fire Extinguisher Training
- Fire Risk Assessment Training
- Fire Warden Training
- How to create a Health and Safety Checklist
To learn more about our Fire Door Safety e-Learning Course, click here.