The upcoming fire safety bill is set to stipulate that fire doors in all blocks of flats will need to be checked every 3 months.

19 February 2020

Before this is legislated into law the ‘The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) is understood to be asking building owners whether quarterly fire door inspections are feasible, with the aim of making it part of their wide-ranging fire safety reforms.’

This proposed change comes from phase one of Grenfell Tower Inquiry where Sir Martin Moore-Bick recommended that ‘building owners or managers of every residential building containing separate dwellings should “be required by law to carry out checks at not less than three-monthly intervals to ensure that all fire doors are fitted with effective self-closing devices in working order”.

Despite a recommendation from the Chairman of the Grenfell Tower Inquiry, the government initially seemed keen to only recommended that fire doors should be ‘routinely checked’.  As a result, many thought that this was a clear sign that the government were not going to legislate this into law.

However, Housing secretary Robert Jenrick has stated that a fire safety bill that includes all of the Grenfell Tower inquiries recommendations will be implemented “very swiftly”. There is currently no specific legislation that requires fire doors to be checked; therefore, this new fire safety bill aims to play a key part in increasing fire safety.

Despite, these proposed changes to legislation it may not go far enough according to Kevin Underwood - Technical Director of the British Woodworking Federation.

 “Quarterly checks might be suitable for domestic fire doors, but not adequate for high-risk, high-usage doors. For instance, doors in corridors in busy areas may be more or less constantly in use, meaning that the risk of damage is high. There are also fire doors where their contribution to a building’s fire safety is very important, which means they should be inspected even more frequently. Fire door inspection has to be a risk-based approach.”

Yet a spokesperson for MHCLG stated:

“Residents’ safety is our utmost priority and building owners should ensure that products being used in their buildings meet the appropriate standards. We have been clear that building owners must take responsibility, review their building fire risk assessments and ensure fire doors are routinely checked or inspected by a qualified professional.”

We are currently in a period of systemic change in the fire and construction industries, it remains to be seen the extent of role that the government will play in increasing fire safety. The MHCLG spokesperson shifted responsibility to the building owners and professional carrying out fire risk assessments.

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