Is it ok to wedge open a fire door? The quickest answer to this question is no, you should never permanently wedge open a fire door. However, there are situations where propping a fire door open temporarily is okay to do.
Continue reading to find out when you wedge open your fire door.
Why Are Fire Doors Wedged Open?
Commercial fire doors are often situated in heavy footfall areas. This is to allow employees to move easily through the building should a fire occur. Fire door placement varies depending on the layout of the premises, however, many will view fire doors as restrictive when moving throughout the building day to day.
This brings us to our question, is it ok to wedge open a fire door?
Well, let’s firstly delve into why this question is being asked. Many companies start by propping a fire door open temporarily. Propping open a fire door temporarily is okay to do IF the door stop is removed immediately after. Ultimately there are benefits to wedging a fire door open temporarily if you are in need of easier access.
- The convenience of quickly wedging the door open to create access.
- Closed doors are a pain when moving objects throughout the building.
- Fire doors are sometimes simply too heavy for people.
The reason is often to create access for employees. This is okay as a quick temporary solution. Once the employee has passed through the fire door, the wedge MUST be removed.
- Fire doors cannot be used as a solution for hot and stuffy offices.
- Fire doors cannot be propped open to stop viruses from spreading.
- Fire doors cannot be used as a way of improving ventilation
However tempting, we will explain why not wedge open a fire door.
The Dangers Of Wedging Open A Fire Door
Wedging a fire door open with a block of wood or other object is an extremely dangerous practice. This could put you and your family at risk.
The dangers… The core reason that wedging a fire door open is so dangerous is that the fire door becomes useless. Long-term wedging of a fire door can cause physical damage to the doors closing mechanism. Also, the job of a fire door is to slow the spread of fire, heat and smoke by acting as a barrier. Fire doors prevent smoke from travelling and spreading throughout the building.
If the door is open, the barrier is broken. Therefore the job of the fire door, protecting the occupants, is no longer present.
Important to note, smoke travels further and faster than flames. This means that without a sealed fire door, you’ll most likely be overcome by the smoke. Smoke will restrict vision and create a difficult evacuation which then poses more danger for everyone inside the building. Stay low where possible and try to avoid letting it cloud your vision.
Lastly, remember that once smoke enters a room, it takes up more space than air. Breathing becomes near impossible. Wedging doors open will mean that not only is vision impaired but breathing will be difficult.
Is a slamming fire door your issue?
The Benefits Of Not Wedging A Fire Door Open
Firstly, A Fire Door is a Safety Device
Important to realise, a fire door is a safety device. Frames, hinges and seals work in synergy to provide protection from a fire for a minimum of 30 minutes.
To clarify, this 30 minutes of protection ONLY applies if the door is SHUT, as it should be.
With this purpose in mind, any alterations will render the fire door useless in protecting those in the building.
Secondly, Contents Insurance
We’ve spoken about what a fire door is, now let’s talk insurance. Accidents happen, unfortunate incidents occur and insurance is available. Businesses needing to protect their contents should read the following… If a fire door is seen to have been wedged open, your insurance will be invalidated.
You will wave your right to claim on the following:
- Loss of Earnings
- Staff Wages
- Interim Payments
Thirdly, Smoke Travels
Spreading rapidly, smoke will travel the corridors with ease if doors are wedged open. Protective barriers are worthless. An open door cannot protect you against fire and smoke when opened. Known as the ‘chimney effect’ smoke will allow the fire to destroy the entire building.
So, Can I Wedge Open a Fire Door?
In conclusion, NO, if you wedge open a fire door you will create a dangerous situation. Uncontrolled fire could lead to property damage or even loss of life. Temporarily, you can in certain situations BUT it must be removed immediately after use.
Wedge the door and:
- Lose lives.
- Invalidate insurance.
- Increase the spread of the fire.
- Increase the speed of the spread.
- Reduce the time you have to evacuate.
- Incur huge costs to the business.
The Possible Solutions Fire Door Seals
Designed to expand under heat, a fire door seal will fill the gap between the door leaf and frame. As a result of heat, intumescent seals will contain the fire through expansion. 3mm gaps should not be exceeded along the 2 long edges and top of the fire door.
See more government guidance on fire doors.
Fire Door Holders
If a fire door is frequently opened, there are many methods to safely hold the door open. We have mentioned you shouldn’t use a wedge, however, there are devices to aid in holding your doors open.
Fire door retainers are also known as fire door holders. These are designed to safely hold open heavy fire doors.
Fire door retainers allow for the doors to stay open in case there is a fire and then they will release, trapping the fire and allowing you a safer access out.
Passive Fire Protection Systems
Fire doors are a vital part of the passive fire protection system. These systems are in place to protect you, your colleagues and your loved ones. When smoke travels through doorways, it can be difficult to see, but that’s not the only issue.
Smoke is heavy and will hang in low areas. This includes floor vents, openings and ceiling spaces. Additionally, smoke will also settle against windows and other openings near the floor.
As part of a proactive approach toward protecting businesses from harm, business owners should take further steps. These steps are to ensure that your premises has a proper ventilation system installed on all levels. Also, the premises should have adequate smoke detectors located throughout every room.
The key is knowing what precautions need to be taken before there’s ever an incident that occurs. Whether it be a natural disaster or human error (like leaving food burning on the stove).
A fire door is a device that prevents smoke and heat from entering a building. A fire door is not only important for safety, but it is also required by law. The best thing you can do as a business owner is to be proactive. This means taking steps to ensure that your premises are safe and secure before any incident occurs. It is therefore essential to keep your fire door closed. You should also make sure that your employees understand the appropriate safety protocols, so they can act quickly if an emergency ever does occur. You should also make sure that your fire door is in good working condition and that it remains closed, or if it’s wedged open, it must only be for a short period of time.