With so many of us having been confined to our homes over the past few months, it’s fair to say that we have started to notice more about our living environments.

As we’ve become increasingly familiar with our surroundings, some of us have had the urge to change them. DIY projects have surged, gardens have been given a new lease of life and the rooms around our homes have been decorated (twice in some cases).

Doors and fire safety

It’s always nice to put up new wallpaper and apply some fresh paint to the skirting boards and doors. But, when doing so, how many of us have really looked at our doors? In particular, the ironmongery.

With so many of us getting carried away with maintenance projects at home, some door closers may have been removed to fill and paint the door – not realising the importance of the closer in the first place. Some homeowners may have even painted over hinges, not aware of their importance to aid the closer to shut the door correctly.

To use the analogy of a bucket full of holes, a fire door with no closer or a poorly working, inefficient closer will make it impossible for the door to operate as intended – rendering it useless in the case of a fire.

How many of us are truly aware of the importance of a fire door and its ironmongery?

being aware of the consequences

Again, we must question how many of us are truly aware of the importance of a fire door and its ironmongery?

It’s common for people to notice a wedged open fire door and not think anything of it – despite the potential consequences. Simply put, we become so used to our surroundings that sometimes we become too comfortable.

Fire doors are everywhere. Where we work, where we visit and where we live. They are fundamental to the safety of people and property. When operating correctly, they allow time for escape in the event of a fire. But without closers (or closers that aren’t operating as they should), valuable time is lost. As we know, fire spreads at an alarming rate but when fire doors are closed, the rate is slowed. Yet, despite their importance to our lives, fire doors are generally ignored until they become difficult to open or shut.

Testing firedoors

The integrity of a fire door itself is also of high importance. All fire doors will have been tested with all the correct ironmongery attached. They are tested to withstand fire and smoke for a specific period of time (commonly 30 to 60 minutes) and any break in their integrity could cause the door to fail. Similarly, if the door has been altered in any way, this runs the risk of both fire and smoke being able to flood through any gaps that have been left as a result of that modification.

Gaps around the fire door should be maintained at no more than 3mm around the top, hinge side and the latch/lock side. If the floor levels differ from threshold to floor, then it’s important to seek products that can help overcome this whilst maintaining the recommended gap under the door.

And yes, door closers can sometimes seem like an inconvenience. This is especially true in our homes as we navigate through rooms, arms laden with shopping, holding a pushchair or even for people with mobility issues. However, doors should not be difficult to open.

Problems and solutions

Should you experience an issue with your door and its hardware, there are solutions out there. Any reputable architectural ironmongery manufacturer should be able to direct property owners to the best possible product to suit the situation.

In terms of door closers, the best options are adjustable. With the use of an Allen key, an adjustable door closer can adjust on the body of the closer, allowing individuals to fine-tune the unit to compensate for any change in air pressure. For example, a door that operates well in the winter can sometimes begin to slam shut in the summer months, in which case, an adjustable closer can fix this.

Managing Fire escape routes

Finally, fire escape routes are also critical to the safety of a building’s occupants. For example, most hotel guests may have noticed fire escape stair shafts littered with objects that can deter a safe escape in the event of a fire. Yet, it is an offence to block any escape route and property owners are responsible for keeping these areas clear.

Achieving maximum fire safety in your building will leave you with peace of mind

Generally, when designing a building and its entry points, it’s important to seek the advice of professionals and look to manufacturers for assistance on product selection and budget. In a field that can feel confusing, they will provide products that suit the environment, ensuring that new installations are fully certified and equipped for the task at hand. In the end, achieving maximum fire safety in your building will leave you with peace of mind.

So, as the DIY projects continue and in anticipation for when we’re finally ready to explore the outside world again, it’s key to change our approach to fire doors. Instead of resenting them or forgetting their purpose, we must remember that fire doors and their ancillary products should be rejoiced for what they’re there to achieve – complete fire safety.

Share with LinkedIn Share with Twitter Share with Facebook Share with Facebook
Download PDF version

Author profile

Karen Trigg Business Development Manager, South East, Allegion

In case you missed it

Helping Voters Understand The Value Of Grant Programs To Fire Departments
Helping Voters Understand The Value Of Grant Programs To Fire Departments

Federal grants are a critical financial component of fire departments and the fulfillment of their mission to protect their communities. The Firefighters Support Alliance is an initiative to help voters understand the local economic impact that fire departments have on their communities; it is part of the Firefighters & EMS Fund, a national political organization. Federal programs such as Assistance to Firefighters (AFG) and Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grants are crucial to emergency preparedness. AFG grants seek to enhance the safety of the public and firefighters with respect to fire-related hazards by providing direct financial assistance to fire departments, nonaffiliated Emergency Medical Services organizations and State Fire Training Academies. The funding helps to equip and train emergency personnel to recognized standards, enhance operations efficiencies, foster interoperability and support community resilience. Increasing the number of trained firefighters SAFER grants provide funding directly to fire departments and volunteer firefighter organizations to help them increase the number of trained, "front line" firefighters available in their communities. Although often overlooked, the economics of firefighting – including what funding and resources are available to fire departments – is a significant aspect of making sure firefighters can effectively and safely do their jobs and protect their communities. Visitors to the web site can manipulate the map to show specific data by region or state, and the map itself is color-coded Part of the awareness initiative is an interactive map that tracks and breaks down data related to the economic impact of firefighters. Data includes the number of fire departments, firefighters and grant dollars in relation to each metric. For example, the state of New York's 2,297 departments received an average of $7512.10 per department, and $200.37 average grant dollars per firefighter. Map for the economic impact of firefighters Visitors to the web site can manipulate the map to show specific data by region or state, and the map itself is color-coded to provide easy understanding of the density of each state. “The data speaks for itself; the fire protection industry is a huge part of the American economy and disturbances to such a wide reaching and essential industry will be felt by all,” says Executive Director Nile Porter. “Rich or poor, we all rely on fire and EMS capabilities in one capacity or another.” The Firefighter’s Support Alliance is the direct grassroots public policy and political engagement arm of the Firefighters and EMS Fund. The project was formed to directly engage the public and voters about issues and solutions that impact America’s heroes. Improving the health and wellness of firefighters The alliance will accomplish this by supporting and sponsoring digital marketing and mass media campaigns using targeted messaging and shining a light on issues that provide grassroots-direct issue, political and public awareness. The Firefighter’s Support Alliance comes on the heels of the organization’s in-depth research from 2018-2019 that revealed a deepening health and wellness crisis among firefighters.

During The Pandemic, Technology Allows 911 Dispatchers To Work From Home
During The Pandemic, Technology Allows 911 Dispatchers To Work From Home

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the trend toward working from home has accelerated. New technologies are now making it possible for 911 dispatchers to work from home, too, whether to ensure social distancing or to supplement operations during evolving emergencies. The computer-aided dispatch (CAD) systems offer web-based interfaces and mobile capabilities that enable public-safety answering point (PSAP) operators to work from anywhere. Other technologies that are paving the way for dispatchers to work from home include the cloud, virtual private networks (VPNs), and faster data speeds. Remote emergency dispatchers An innovative implementation in Alexandria, Virginia, involves remote emergency dispatchers using equipment including a laptop, headset, smartphone, mobile hotspot, mobile router with computer-aided dispatch and other hardware. The city uses the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) network, provided in partnership with AT&T. A dedicated, secure and reliable connection ensures operation for public safety, everyday functions, and/or for emergency communications. In Alexandria, hotspots and smartphones powered by FirstNet enable 911 dispatchers to take calls In Alexandria, hotspots and smartphones powered by FirstNet enable 911 dispatchers to take calls and handle CAD operations from their homes and remote locations. The dependability of the FirstNet connection is critical; relying on a dispatcher’s home Internet service could be risky if it loses connectivity. Initially hesitant because of concerns about the unknown, Alexandria’s Director of Emergency and Customer Communications was spurred into action by the COVID-19 crisis. Emergency Communications Centers They had tested the system in January. During the first month of implementation, remote workers only answered non-emergency phone calls before beginning to handle 911 calls. The approach helped with social distancing in the midst the COVID -19 crisis, during which dispatchers could not work together as usual in close quarters. To ensure social distancing, dispatchers worked from two different Emergency Communications Centers (ECCs) – one primary and one a backup location – in addition to some dispatchers working from home. There was also a fourth ‘isolation’ team, comprised of two fire dispatchers, two police dispatcher and one call telecommunicator – staying and working remotely in a nearby hotel for 10 days in a row. Deciding whether to allow dispatchers to work remotely depends on factors such as employee performance, operational effectiveness and available tools, according to experts. Careful evaluation of these factors ensures a successful implementation. Home-Based operators Technology requirements include a VPN and a dependable, high-speed internet connection In addition to providing flexibility during a global pandemic, remote dispatchers can help departments augment their regularly scheduled staff members more quickly. Dispatchers who can work immediately from home are not delayed by the practicalities of getting to work. Staffing can be augmented immediately rather than several hours from now – an essential consideration during a developing emergency. Technology requirements include a VPN and a dependable, high-speed internet connection. Connectivity might especially be a problem in rural areas, where operators are also more likely to need to travel a long distance to work. There might also be legal issues, such as access to confidential databases. There might also be concerns about discipline of home-based operators and challenges when it comes to working together cohesively as a team. In the end, though, such questions are about ‘how’ a home-bound dispatcher scenario might be managed rather than whether it is feasible. The changing situation during the COVID-19 crisis has demonstrated that the technical hurdles have been overcome.

Keeping Emergency Services Teams Secure And Connected
Keeping Emergency Services Teams Secure And Connected

Every day, across the globe, emergency services teams come to people’s aid no matter the situation to ensure their safety. Whether it’s during a natural disaster, or at a significant event, the emergency services are on hand to face any challenge that comes their way. When supporting this crucial workforce, it is essential that they have robust and reliable connectivity. Technology is becoming a vital aspect of public safety and security worldwide, and this trend is only likely to grow. For these new devices to work effectively, full-scale coverage must be in place, and when it comes to people’s safety, there is no room for error. The need for redundancy and high bandwidth  Two of the paramount tools at emergency services disposal are video surveillance and communication devices. Constant visibility and communication are often essential to protecting people and saving lives. The benefits range from providing first responders with a clear picture and understanding of the situation they are about to encounter; to providing greater safety during public events by enabling officers to control crowds and manage traffic effectively. Enhancing visibility and sharing information is particularly crucial during fires to guide firefighters and vehicles through flames and smoke, and to allow the central command center to organize resources effectively. Technology is becoming a vital aspect of public safety and security worldwide, and this trend is only likely to grow Despite any potential challenges ensuring network connectivity may create, public safety organizations cannot compromise when it comes to optimizing security. For IP video surveillance and cellphone broadband connectivity to operate effectively, they require redundancy and high bandwidth. Without these connectivity attributes, devices become useless; for example, there are municipalities where as much as 50 percent of the camera network is offline because of poor product choices and inferior network design and installation. Equally, poor quality networking can be just as limiting as it can lead to public safety organizations being unable to receive real-time data. All areas must also have adequate bandwidth to access data, such as on-scene video, aerial imagery, maps, and images, and many existing public safety networks do not have that capacity. Supporting security and safety robotics Robots and drones have seen a considerable increase in popularity this year, with 60 million such machines being deployed according to ABI Research. They offer a wealth of potential to emergency services teams, whether on land, air, or sea. For example, water rescue robots can go where humans cannot, earthquake and fire robots can search through otherwise non-navigable areas, and drones can survey vast regions. However, for these wireless devices to work effectively, they rely on many features. They need low power consumption so as not to heavily burden the onboard power source of the robotic device and, perhaps, a high level of encryption so information cannot be stolen or hacked. There are also benefits to security and safety as robotic devices can communicate with one another peer-to-peer. Directly mounting radios to robots and drones, fosters dynamic self-learning, data sharing, and more wireless paths in the event one or more of the devices in an area do not have a link to fixed infrastructure. Water rescue robots can go where humans cannot, earthquake and fire robots can search through otherwise non-navigable areas, and drones can survey vast regions The main component that security and safety robotics require is redundant and resilient connections. If the connection is lost, the connected device will go into “safe” mode and stop. Creating a high capacity network that supports mobile devices in complex and fast-moving environments is not a simple task. In many cases, it requires a network that supports many wireless connections and allows for many paths in and out, so that if a link is lost, another path is available for data transmission and reception. This type of network is the best way to ensure that police, firefighters, and emergency units can access and send large amounts of data from wherever they are and in real-time making a massive difference to the efficiency of the emergency services. An example of this is Rajant’s private Kinetic Mesh® network, a wireless network ensuring no single point of failure. It offers reliable, intelligent, and secure wireless broadband connectivity that survives and thrives in evolving and mobility-driven environments. It forms a “living” mesh network that can move with and adapt to the evolving communication requirements of public safety organizations. Technology in action Back in October 2019, the heat from the sun, combined with winds gusting through the foothills of El Capitán Canyon in California, sparked a bush fire in the overly dry, desert hills. Despite four hundred and twenty acres being burnt, firefighters used their experience and skills combined with newfound digital technology to ensure that no structures were damaged, and there were no reported injuries. The Santa Barbara County Fire Department, Cal Fire, the U.S Forest Service, and other agencies were immediately dispatched to contain the fire. More than 200 firefighters were needed to combat the fire and reinforce containment lines with helicopters and drones in the air and bulldozers on the ground. To operate this equipment, mesh radio nodes, bonded cellular, and satellite technologies were used to link the communication gap in locations where signals are often dropped. Rajant BreadCrumb® nodes were mounted to the fire-breaking, 30-ton bulldozers manned by trained firefighters to uproot vegetation and eliminate the materials that would further spread the fire. Robots and drones have seen a considerable increase in popularity this year, with 60 million such machines being deployed  The reliable connectivity allowed the bulldozers to not only easily communicate with each other and the base, but also to send video footage and data to the tactical truck and central command post over cellular and SAT networks. This situational awareness data transfer allowed for greater efficiency, as well as increased safety for the public and the firefighters. Reliability when you need it most Reliable connectivity solutions are being embraced across the emergency services due to the innumerable benefits they bring to ensuring the safety of the public. For police, firefighters, and emergency units, dependable connectivity allows for rapid, real-time response, and the use of technology can save lives in ways that wouldn’t have seemed possible a decade ago. Planned and unplanned events can benefit from the new technology being introduced, and emergency services need to make sure they have the network capabilities to support them. For environments that are challenging and hostile, this requires a network available on-demand, which can withstand the demands of harsh conditions and mobility while maintaining a level of redundancy and high bandwidth that allows for accessing and sending large amounts of data from any location.

vfd