Frances the Firefly helps with Fire Door Safety Week

A large number of creative initiatives are taking place this week to support Fire Door Safety Week which finishes on Sunday (21 September).

Strongly supported by the Fire Minister, Penny Mordaunt MP, and the Government’s Fire Kills campaign, Fire Door Safety Week has captured the imagination of charities, councils, consultants, companies, colleges and care homes.

One of the most engaging ideas has been the competition run by Aberlour, the largest solely Scottish children’s charity, using the popular story of Frances the Firefly to help communicate the need for greater fire door safety awareness to more than 6,000 vulnerable children, young people and their families. Among a range of activities being carried out by Aberlour, the children are being asked to complete a fire door safety quiz and to draw a picture of a Friendly Fire Door.

At the other end of the country, an all-day event at Lorient in Newton Abbot, Devon, this week brought together representatives from the leisure industry, tourism, private landlords, local councils and building control to see a live fire door test, demonstrations of firefighting equipment and presentations on fire door safety and inspections.

A seminar at the Building Centre for more than 60 property surveyors, consultants, facilities managers and health and safety managers, and involving London Fire Brigade and other fire safety specialists, launched the Week’s activities on Monday. London Fire Brigade has run a major promotional campaign this week urging Londoners living in purpose built blocks or houses converted into flats not to replace vital fire doors at the entrance to their properties with doors that don’t meet the required safety standards.

John Fletcher, manager of the BWF-CERTIFIRE Scheme, said:

“After our first year last year, which was a huge success and reached in excess of 6 million people with information and advice about fire door safety, it’s already evident that even more organisations are engaged this year, including many regional fire and rescue services, resident associations, social landlords and private businesses.

“What we are trying to achieve with Fire Door Safety Week is greater awareness. We want to engage and educate people, helping the whole building industry and every property owner to understand the correct specification, supply, installation, operation, inspection and maintenance of fire doors. The level of support this year has been outstanding across a wide range of sectors, and I’m sure this will help to save lives and property as a direct result.”

Neil Ashdown, manager of the Fire Door Inspection Scheme, said:

“FDIS has covered half the country in three days to present at London, Lincoln and Newton Abbot, driving home the message about fire doors and the law. Compliance with the Fire Safety Order is mandatory, but in a very large number of cases, individuals not trained in fire safety management are being expected to become or to access experts very quickly in order to fulfil their responsibilities.

“We will continue to offer free seminars throughout this year and next, to reach as many building owners and managers as possible. Greater awareness of fire door law will continue to be needed long after Fire Door Safety Week has finished.”

Joinery firm TMJ Contractors is among several who have committed to getting their project managers qualified through the FDIS diploma in fire doors, and Howarth Timber is providing discounts on all fire doors during the week.

The BWF-CERTIFIRE gap tester – a handy little device that helps check many of the most important features of fire doors, including the optimum gap between door and frame – has been much in demand, along with posters that are being downloaded from the Fire Door Safety Week toolkit.

Free gap testers and posters are being handed out to customers by many companies in the construction industry, including supporters and BWF-CERTIFIRE members BuildBase builders’ merchant, door company JB Kind, and timber merchant Arnold Laver. Southampton City Council’s housing services division is promoting Fire Door Safety Week to its staff and residents, and is placing posters in a number of its housing blocks.

Around the country, fire and rescue services have also been spreading the word, including organising many visits to local businesses by Cheshire Fire and Rescue, a similar series of events by West Sussex Fire and Rescue, and a free half-day seminar by Lincolnshire Fire and Rescue for people managing commercial, public and multi-occupancy properties.

A large number of organisations have been promoting the Fire Door Safety Week videos, including West Suffolk College which has shown a presentation on its campus plasma screens all week and is also planning to run its own college fire safety week in early November.

Leading Lives, which provides supported living, community support and other services to people with learning disabilities, has carried out inspections of all its clients’ fire doors and has trained its staff. While even cleaning companies have got involved – WR Cleaning and Maintenance in Leicestershire has asked all its cleaners to be extra vigilant when cleaning apartment complexes, including checking that fire doors are not wedged open and are free from obstructions.

Among more than 100 Fire Door Safety Week supporting organisations this year are the Association for Specialist Fire Protection, the Fire Brigades Union, The Chief Fire Officers Association and the Fire Industry Association. Property and building industry supporters include Local Authority Building Control and the Association of Consultant Approved Inspectors, the National Landlords Association, Federation of Private Residents’ Associations, Guild of Architectural Ironmongers, National Specialist Contractors Council and Construction Industry Council.

The brainchild of FDIS and the BWF-CERTIFIRE Scheme, Fire Door Safety Week aims to raise awareness of the critical role of fire doors, drawing attention to specific issues such as poor installation and maintenance, and encouraging building owners and users to check the operation and condition of their fire doors and to report those that aren’t satisfactory.

There are about 3 million new fire doors bought and installed every year in the UK, the vast majority made from timber. Fire doors are often the first line of defence in a fire and their correct specification, maintenance and management can be the difference between life and death for building occupants.

For updates on the campaign and the many other events scheduled throughout the week, follow Fire Door Safety Week on Twitter @FDSafetyWeek or search for tweets with hashtag #firedoorsafetyweek.