Video footage by fire safety campaigner Theodore Firedoor has drawn attention to what the Fire Door Inspection Scheme (FDIS) is calling the "appalling state of the fire doors" in a many hospitals.
Watch the video here:
Theodore Firedoor is a campaign promoted by the FDIS which runs Europe’s only scheme to train, qualify and provide independent certification for fire door professionals and others with responsibility for fire safety in buildings.
Extremely serious safety implications
After attempts to encourage essential maintenance by the hospital’s estates management team, Theodore Firedoor went undercover to film very badly damaged fire doors and attempts at repairs which would seriously compromise the fire performance of the doors.
“The first thing we notice is a distinct lack of maintenance. In particular, the meeting edges of the doors have suffered repeated impact damage. They have clearly been in need of urgent repair for some time,” said 'Theodore'.
“Many hospitals have a ‘stay put’ policy as part of their fire strategy, because obviously it’s not practical to evacuate very ill patients or somebody during surgery. That’s why hospitals rely especially on fire doors providing the intended fire separation.
“So here, of all places, these fire doors pose extremely serious safety implications for the people using the building. There are no excuses, this is addressed in the Fire Safety Order and there’s clear guidance for building managers in BS 9999.”
Poor fire doors cause physical damage
In a recent example of how serious such risks can be, a fire at Stoke Mandeville Hospital at the end of May caused 53 patients to flee for safety, involved 40 firefighters and resulted in several people being treated for smoke inhalation. Large parts of the building were affected by smoke and water damage.
There are currently about 300 candidates working through the FDIS Diploma in fire doors, using the online learning system to gain expertise in fire doors and a qualification to prove it. Once qualified, Diploma holders can also go on to apply to become certificated inspectors.
The first fully qualified and certificated fire door inspectors have now started work around the country, and this month FDIS is launching its ‘Find An Inspector’ service for hospital estate managers: http://fdis.co.uk/inspector
FDIS inspectors will help those with legal responsibilities for fire safety to ensure the safe functioning of all their fire doors, including providing a professional service for hospitals and NHS Trusts which require a competent and detailed survey and report on the condition and function of the fire doors on their premises.
The focus on fire door safety in hospitals and other public buildings is likely to remain top of the public interest agenda over the next few weeks, including the screening of the BBC Inside Out programme this week with its secret filming of hotel fire safety measures, and also the launch of the inaugural Fire Door Safety Week (www.firedoorsafetyweek.co.uk).