Fire safety is vital in all rental properties, and fire doors are a crucial aspect of that. In an emergency, they can save lives, but it’s important to know how to use them effectively. So, whether you’re a landlord looking to install fire doors in your properties or a tenant wondering what you need to do to ensure your fire barriers are effective, here’s all you need to know.
What is a Fire Door?
A fire door acts as a barrier to prevent fires from spreading. They confine the fire to a restricted area, allowing more time for occupants to escape and for the emergency services to arrive. They also keep escape routes clear. Fire doors close automatically and have intumescent strips around the edge, which expand when the door reaches a certain temperature. These strips block smoke and harmful fumes.
What Types of Rented Properties Require Fire Doors?
They are hugely important in all buildings — commercial or residential, including rented properties. However, fire doors are only a legal requirement in houses in multiple occupations (HMOs). HMOs are properties housing three or more tenants from two or more different households.
Blocks of flats also require fire doors in all shared areas.
Although it’s not a legal requirement to have fire doors in single-let properties, it is advisable to fit them in high-risk areas such as kitchens.
According to the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, it is the responsibility of whoever oversees the day to day running of a building to enforce fire safety measures. In the case of rented properties, this means landlords have a legal obligation to provide fire-safe accommodation for their tenants. This obligation includes installing fire doors in HMOs.
Landlords must fit fire doors in place of all regular doors that lead to an escape route. For example, this includes all doors which come off hallways, landings and stairways. The escape route will usually be the front or back door.
Fire doors give tenants enough time to reach the escape route from anywhere in the property, in the case of a fire. FD30 and FD60 are the most common types of fire doors. They give occupants 30 minutes and 60 minutes, respectively, to escape. You can also choose different types of seals — fire-only seals keep flames at bay, while fire and smoke seals also block harmful fumes.
It’s the landlord’s responsibility to ensure that all tenants in an HMO can access an unrestricted escape route at all times. Always hire a professional to fit any fire barriers or doors. As fire doors can save lives, it’s vital that they are installed correctly. It’s not worth risking a DIY approach. If you need any assistance with fire door installation, why not contact our experienced team at JNR?
If you rent out a house in multiple occupations without installing fire doors, you may face fines. Fine amounts can vary depending on the severity of the offence and whether any tenants suffer injuries due to the lack of fire safety precautions. Tenants can even reclaim a year’s worth of rent from a landlord who doesn’t provide adequate fire protection.
Alongside fire doors, HMOs should also have emergency lighting, at least one fire blanket in every shared kitchen, and a fire extinguisher on each floor.
Fire doors are only effective when appropriately managed. Tenants must keep them closed at all times and never prop them open with a doorstop.
Any time you walk through fire doors, make sure you check that they close fully onto the latch behind you.
Although it’s your landlord’s responsibility to ensure fire doors are repaired when necessary, it’s down to the tenants to keep an eye out for signs of damage. Check that the seals are intact, there are no loose hinges, and any gaps around the top and sides of the fire doors are less than 4mm when the door is closed.
Fire Door Inspections and Maintenance
It’s important to check your fire doors regularly to make sure they are in full working order. At JNR, we recommend that buildings have their fire doors inspected every 6-12 months, depending on footfall. Footfall is likely to be relatively low in rented properties, so it’s a good idea for landlords to arrange fire-door inspections once a year.
If you notice any damage to the fire doors in the property you rent or let, we can offer repairs and maintenance.
Fire Doors for Safety
Knowing what fire precautions you need and how to use fire doors effectively can ensure that all occupants in rented properties stay as safe as possible.
Whether you need fire protection in London, Manchester, Birmingham or farther afield, don’t hesitate to get in touch with JNR for all your fire door needs.