15 September 2014

London Fire Brigade is urging residents and landlords of purpose built blocks or houses converted into flats not to replace vital fire doors at the entrance to the property with doors that do not meet the required safety standards.

The brigade has also raised concerns about people removing the self-closing mechanism on their fire doors to prevent themselves from getting accidentally locked out.

In the last three years in London three people have died and 36 people have been injured in fires where fire doors have been replaced, left open or incorrectly fitted.

Fire doors are a legal requirement for flats which open onto communal areas shared with other tenants. They ensure escape routes are protected if a fire breaks out and are designed to automatically close behind people in the event of fire, holding back flames and stopping the spread of the fire and smoke.

Assistant Commissioner for Fire Safety Regulation Steve Turek explained: “You wouldn’t remove seatbelts from your car, so why remove fire doors from your home? 

“Fire doors are specially designed to automatically close behind you in the event of fire, holding flames back stopping the spread of the fire and toxic smoke into escape routes, corridors and other flats in the block. It’s crucial that people don’t remove the self closing mechanism on fire doors.”

The call coincides with Fire Safety Door Week which starts today (15 September).

Commercial buildings, non-domestic and multi-occupancy premises in England and Wales are already forced to undertake a 'suitable and sufficient' fire risk assessment carried out under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.

While the overwhelming majority of premises do this, if the assessment is thought to have been carried out to an insufficient extent, the Responsible Person can face an unlimited fine or up to two years in prison.