There is a lot of confusion out there relating to fire door regulations for domestic and non-domestic properties in the UK at the moment. With that in mind, this article aims to set the record straight by letting you know the ins and outs and explaining everything in a way that everyone can understand.
Hopefully, after leaving this page, you will grasp the regulations and how they could affect your project. So, if you’re a landlord looking to renovate your private property or a developer hoping to work within the law when building new offices; read the information below and put it to good use.
Failure to do that could mean you face many issues further down the line and put lives at risk.
What do the regulations affect?
There are a few regulations in place in across the UK that affect the use of fire doors in both domestic and non-domestic buildings. There are also building regulations that apply if you’re in the process of constructing a new property.
It’s vital that you understand them all if you want to work within the law and ensure you protect everyone who might spend time inside the building.
While fires are infrequent these days, they do occur. Through the implementation of fire door regulations, it’s possible to decrease the chances of the fire spreading from one area of the property to another.
Existing buildings are governed by the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order: 2005. Regulation 38 of the Building Regulations (England and Wales) also applies to those properties, and it makes sense to educate yourself on the details.
Regulation 38 is a requirement under the Building Regulations to provide fire safety information to a responsible person at the completion of a project, or where the building or extension is first occupied.
How do the regulations affect new buildings?
Anyone dealing with a new building will have to refer to the building regulations. They are otherwise known as approved documents, and they ensure properties meet the standards required by law.
Fire doors are required for all new buildings, and they help to keep everyone safe. However, they also assist in ensuring you work to other building regulations including those related to sound, ventilation, and accessibility.
How do the regulations affect existing buildings?
More than 70 pieces of fire safety law came into being following the implementation of The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.
The “responsible person” is responsible for conducting risk assessments in non-domestic buildings including common areas of flats and apartment properties according to the law. Under regulations, that person must undertake an evaluation and maintain a fire management plan.
That law applies to anyone who is responsible for business premises like offices or warehouses. It also affects any employers who own a building or self-employed people in the same position.
Any contractors with control over a structure will need to consider their obligations under those rules too. The same goes for those who provide accommodation to guests like people running hotels and other establishments.
When it comes to existing buildings that meet the regulations set by the government, inspections and maintenance are the most critical areas in which the “responsible person” should focus their efforts.
If you don’t do that, there is a decent chance you will put lives at risk, but you could also end up in the courtroom facing criminal prosecution for negligence if you fail to take heed.
Where should people fit the doors?
You need to take a moment to read information that explains the nature of Approved Document B – Fire Safety. That reveals all the details you need to consider.
However, as a brief outline, the document states that all buildings must get sectioned off into compartments that protect escape routes like staircases.
With domestic properties, every door that leads to the stairs must be a fire door. For non-domestic buildings, the guidance is divided into two parts based on horizontal or vertical escape routes.
Do I need to use signage?
Yes! As you will discover when you read Approved Document B – Fire Safety, the regulations state that you must place signs on every fire door in a non-domestic building.
You need to fix the signs on both sides of the door, and they should explain that it’s a fire door. Most people will also include some extra instructions like “keep clear” or something similar.
You can place a map of your fire escape route on those doors too to assist anyone who might panic in an emergency.
Are smoke seals essential?
The official regulations recommend smoke seals on fire doors that lead to escape routes. So, in apartment buildings where tenants will have to use the same stairwell to get to safety in case of a fire; it is vital that all the properties have fire doors with smoke seals leading to that common area.
The regulators also advise that you should use smoke seals on doors in corridors that lead to dead ends. That is just in case anyone gets trapped there if the worst occurs.
Now you know more about fire door regulations in the UK; you shouldn’t struggle when it comes to making sure your domestic or non-domestic building conforms to the rules.
All you have to do now is read some of those approved documents from the UK government’s website to ensure you don’t make any oversights and keep the people in your building as safe as possible at all times.
The last thing anyone wants is to face criminal charges because a fire happens and their building does not meet standards set by the regulators.
So, save yourself a lot of time and hassle (and maybe a few lives too) by making sure you understand the ins and outs of the regulations like the back of your hand.
We hope this article has helped to set the record straight!
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