Fire doors are just part of every day life in the work place, but do you truly understand why they’re there? They’re an important part of keeping you safe in the event of a fire, but many don’t understand this. Here’s what you need to know about fire doors, so you can ensure they work to the best of their ability.
How Do Fire Doors Work?
The main purpose of fire doors is to cut off fire from spreading. If a fire breaks out behind the door, it shouldn’t be able to spread as the door will stop it getting any further. This is thanks to the specific construction that allows them to create this seal, should a fire occur. The door itself should be of steel or solid wood construction, with fire rated safety glass if they contain a window.
They also have specially created latches and closing hardware, to help ensure a seal in the event of a fire. This includes the use of intumescent strips. These are placed the whole way around the door, and when they reach a certain temperature and expand, they will create a full seal around the door itself. Fire rated hinges are used too, to ensure they don’t come away in extreme heat and keep the door in place.
Ensuring Fire Doors Can Work
The problem with fire doors is that many people don’t realize how important they are. They don’t treat them with the proper care and attention, so if there is a fire they won’t be able to block the spread of fire as they should. The main issue is that doors are often propped open.
This happens for so many reasons, including wanting to allow a breeze through on a hot day, or to allow easier movement if things are being moved around the building. These are common issues, but the fact is a fire door cannot work if this is allowed to happen. If a fire breaks out and the door is open, it can’t do its job. To ensure they’ll work correctly, ensure the door is shut at all times.
Another issue you’ll encounter is when items are piled near the door. This often happens if the door isn’t often used. It may not seem to be a problem, but consider that if a fire were to break out behind that door, it won’t be able to fulfill its job correctly. If the heat behind the door gets high enough, it can cause the objects on the other side to ignite. Stop this happening by keeping all fire doors clear.
Finally, ensure that you do not nail or screw items to the door. Many people attach signs to the door by nailing them on, not realizing that when they do so, they’re damaging the integrity of the fire door. If this happens, it cannot be considered a fire safety measure in your building until it’s replaced. If anything needs to be attached to the door, use an adhesive that won’t penetrate the door. Also, ensure that nothing is attached to the glass in the window.
Other Ways of Fireproofing the Workplace
There are other ways you can fire proof your workplace, as well as using fire proof doors. Many of these will be listed in the fire code that your building will need to abide by. Here are some of the things you’re expected to have in the workplace to improve fire safety.
Visible Pull Alarms
If a fire were to break out, you need to be able to raise the alarm quickly. To do this, you should be able to use a pull alarm. These should be installed throughout the building, within reach of most people, and not blocked off. Many buildings have them behind plants and other obstructions, even sometimes behind posters and notices. They need to be clear and easy to see.
Working Fire Extinguishers
Your building will also need fully working fire extinguishers throughout it, ready in case a fire occurs. They need to be full, and workers should know how to use them should they need to. They should also know if they can’t, or don’t feel able to fight the fire, they should instead raise the alarm and exit the building.
Keep Fire Exits Clear
As with fire doors, fire exits are often hidden behind piled objects, rendering them impassable. They also may be locked if they lead outdoors, or even have cars parked in front of them. These all block the exits, making them impossible to use. If a fire were to break out, it could well happen in an area where it stops you getting to the main exit. That’s why it’s so important to keep those fire exits clear.
Waste materials pose a real threat to your workplace. You may think nothing of that pile of cardboard sitting in a corner, waiting to be recycled. The problem is, it’s the perfect fuel for a fire. A single spark has to fall on it and it’s going to go up. The solution is to keep the workplace as clean as you can. Keep waste to a minimum, taking recycling outside if you can. Use closed lid trash cans, and ensure the whole area is being cleaned every day.
Store Flammable Liquids Safely
In your workplace you may be working with flammable liquids on a daily basis. These are safe if used properly, but they need to be stored properly too. Look up the fire codes on the liquids you have in the building, and store them as advised to reduce the risk of fire.
The Bottom Line
When used properly, a fire door is quite literally a good line of defense against fire. It will stop the fire in its tracks long enough for you to get out and get help. They’re often misused, so take this chance to rectify this. Use these tips to use your fire doors properly, and keep your place of work safe from fire.