West Midlands Fire Service is urging businesses and organisations, as well as their staff and visitors, not to prop open fire doors.
With more people returning to their workplaces since lockdown, it’s feared that wedging open fire doors to avoid touching them and picking up COVID-19 could increase the risk of fire damage or injuries.
Organisations are being urged to keep their Fire Risk Assessments fully updated and to ensure they take full account of any new measures introduced to stop the spread of coronavirus. Station Commander Andrew Miller, from WMFS’s fire safety team, said:
“While all of our efforts are rightly focused on stopping the spread of COVID-19, we also need to do all we can to stop the spread of fire. Fire doors stop the spread of fire and smoke and protect escape routes.
"They can provide vital extra minutes for people to get out of a burning building and help to keep a business in business by limiting fire spread and damage.
“An open fire door could close your business. Wedging or propping them open to avoid having to touch them, or to improve air flow around premises, could have serious consequences if a fire breaks out.
“It can be easy to forget why fire doors are there, but they allow organisations to recover more quickly after a fire. However, they’re only effective if they’re are correctly installed, well maintained and kept fully closed into the door frame.”
Businesses and other organisations are being urged:
- to keep their Fire Risk Assessments updated
- to ensure escape routes are maintained, paying extra attention to any one-way systems that have been introduced to counter COVID-19
- not to prop fire doors open (other than by an auto-closer linked to a fire alarm)
- not to block fire doors, eg with furniture or stock
- to regularly inspect fire doors and to keep them well maintained
- to ensure that fire door signage isn’t obscured
For more fire safety advice, including how to review your Fire Risk Assessment, please visit wmfs.net.