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“Standards of fire safety in schools must be raised” urges ASSA ABLOY Door Group

14 March 2022

DOOR GROUP, a unit of ASSA ABLOY Opening Solutions UK and Ireland, is stressing the need for greater awareness of fire safety in education buildings, with a large percentage of fire doors in schools found to be non-compliant while undergoing inspections.

The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 requires school management teams to undertake risk assessments that identify the general fire precautions needed to ensure the safety of occupants in case of fire, including safe means of escape. Despite this, recent research carried out by insurer Zurich has shown that schools have been hit by 2,300 fires in the last five years alone. These episodes have destroyed 47 primary and secondary school buildings alone.

Fire doors are one of the most important safety features in a building. Regular product specifications or dedicated fire door inspections are essential in order to fully ensure that Health and Safety measures are met.

Education buildings can present highly specific requirements for fire doorsets, with particularly varied legislation and Building Regulations surrounding fire doors in schools. These doors are subject to extremely high levels of traffic and, as a result, a higher level of misuse and abuse, which can then lead to functional problems resulting in non-compliance.

Compliance “overlooked”

Brian Sofley, managing director of the ASSA ABLOY Door Group, explained: “While statutory inspections are being completed for the entire building, the necessary attention to fire door compliance is being overlooked. Member of our team of Building Research Establishment-qualified and certified engineers have found a large percentage of fire doors to be non-compliant when completing dedicated fire door inspections in schools over the past three-to-four years. For example, in one school, 163 of the 164 fire doors we inspected were not compliant.”

The economic and social impact of school fires on staff, pupils and the local community can be significant, causing financial hardship, emotional trauma and a delay in learning. Indeed, a study conducted by the National Foundation for Education Research found that 17% of schools experiencing a fire suffered a drop in staff morale and 6% of them a fall in morale among pupils. A further 7% suggested that a fire had led to negative publicity about their school.

Door Group is committed to raising the standard of fire door safety in schools, providing a fully comprehensive inspection process which can be carried out every three, four, six or 12 months to suit specific requirements.

Following on from inspections, Door Group then offers detailed reports containing advice and recommendations on necessary improvements, with the knowledge that identifying any potential issues that could impact safety and product performance can be life-saving.

If any issues do occur, a tailored repair proposal is issued to include anything from replacement doors through to a regular maintenance programme. Door Group inspectors will ensure that all fire doors inspected meet all necessary standards and regulations.

Safe and secure place

Sofley added: “An education building should be a safe and secure place for students and staff in which they are free to learn and work. Door Group is committed to making schools, colleges and universities across the UK fire protected.”

Further, Sofley stated: “With regular and thorough inspections, we can ensure the compliance and performance of fire doorsets in an effort to improve overall fire safety in the educational environment, while at the same time minimising the risk that learning could be negatively impacted by a fire.”

*For more information on ASSA ABLOY Door Group visit https://bit.ly/3hVybbC