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Last year saw a 14 per cent increase in fires in England, according to UK Home Office statistics. And while around three million fire doors are installed in the UK every year, a lack of understanding during operation, maintenance and management of fire doors is still apparent. In this article, David Hindle, Head of Door Closer Sales at ASSA ABLOY Opening Solutions UK & Ireland, will address this issue. Importance of fire doors Fire doors are often the first line of defense in a fire, yet even after the Grenfell Tower tragedy in 2017, fire door hardware remains a significant area of concern. In May 2018, an Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety, led by dame Judith Hackitt, have been published. The review highlighted a range of issues, but the message stood clear, the UK’s current approach to fire safety in buildings is not functioning as intended and a new, holistic approach to fire safety is required. Review of fire inspections In all fire inspections, there is a responsibility from the building owner to include checks on the fire doors In all fire inspections, there is a responsibility from the building owner to include checks on the fire doors. However, there is no legal requirement for them to complete any recommended upgrades or repairs, or to prove that they have done so. This represents a major problem, as doors that do not perform to the required standard could compromise a building’s safety and put occupants at risk. Ultimately, this could lead to liability being assigned back to the building owner or facilities manager. Need to maintain fire safety standards Fire safety is only properly maintained if standards and checks are carried out throughout the lifecycle of the product and building. This is best addressed through regular inspection, maintenance and the replacement of products when required. A review by the Fire Door Inspection Scheme revealed the most common fire door faults, ranging from missing fire or smoke seals, to unsuitable hinges and damage to the door leaf itself. Any one of these issues can render a fire door useless and can seriously impede a door’s capability to protect people from harm. Door leaf and frame maintenance Fire door hardware is often not afforded the attention it requires and is left mismanaged throughout its service life. So what needs to be done to ensure fire door hardware is working as expected? Naturally, the door leaf should not be damaged, warped or twisted, and it is vital to ensure the fire door closes correctly around all parts of the frame, with no distortion between the stiles, top and frame. Gaps between the door and leaf must not be greater than those specified in the manufacturer’s installation instructions or fire certificate data sheet, typically around 3 to 4mm all the way round. Importance of door closers A door closer ensures a fire door returns to its fully closed position and the door seals correctly in the door frame A door closer ensures a fire door always returns to its fully closed position and makes sure that the door seals correctly in the door frame, when not in use. There are three steps to ensuring these components are working correctly. First, open the door fully and check that it closes without dragging across the floor. Next, open it to approximately 5-10 degrees and again check that it fully closes, engaging any latch or seal. Finally, check the door closing speed is approximately five seconds from a 90 degree angle, ensuring the door does not slam shut. Intumescent fire and smoke seals Fire and smoke seals should be in good condition, fit the full length of the door and be secure in the groove. If seals are badly fitted, damaged or painted, then they must be replaced with exactly the same size and intumescent material that was originally specified. If the smoke seals have to be replaced, then they should be fitted in one continuous length, if possible. To ensure hinges are in good condition, check for visible wear, dark marks or stains around the hinge knuckle that could indicate wear and impending failure. Hinges must be strong enough to carry the door mass, plus robust enough to work efficiently no matter the level of usage. The hinges should be firmly screwed into the door and frame, ensuring that the seals at the top and sides of the door are not damaged or missing at any time. Intumescent pads should also be used with hinges, as these are required for the door to get its appropriate fire rating. Locks and lever handles To measure a handle’s condition, one needs to ensure the lock lever fully returns to a horizontal position after use Wiping any metal dust deposits off the handles will help ensure that the latch-bolt is engaging smoothly and completely into the keep during use. To measure a handle’s condition, one needs to ensure the lock lever fully returns to a horizontal position after use. If it does not, the lever may, at best, need adjusting or lubricating. At worst, it may need replacing, as per the manufacturer’s instructions. Again, ensure the lock case is protected by intumescent material. Maintaining record of fire door inspection No matter the component, a record of inspection and maintenance should be kept for all door hardware. Furthermore, those responsible for ensuring the fire safety of a site should encourage others to report any issues with any of the door components. Faults should be fixed as soon as possible, using the correct and fire-rated components. To check the compatibility of components, always consult the fire certificate data sheet or contact the manufacturer.
Extricating collision victims requires advanced medical care After a vehicle collision of significant force - as in the case of high-speed impact - it is likely that the occupants of the car, particularly the driver and front seat passenger, will be entrapped. Brendon Morris, Holmatro Rescue Equipment's Consultation & Training Manager, and a rescue paramedic in South Africa for many years, discusses the need for an advanced level of care for entrapped patients in vehicle extrication rescue. Entrapment in a vehicle accident can be physical, mechanical or both. In other words, the victim can be trapped by his or her physical injuries or by the fact that the vehicle has crumpled in such a way that it is not possible to get out of the wreckage (mechanical). Regardless of whether there is a physical or mechanical entrapment, victims are very likely to suffer significant internal injuries after a high-speed impact. It is these internal injuries that can be worsened due to inappropriate handling and lack of good medical care during the extrication rescue process. Combining technical extrication skills & advanced medical care The specialized discipline of extrication rescue is performed with varying degrees of efficiency across the globe. To reduce the negative effects of moving an entrapped victim (whose condition may worsen due to their already fragile state), specialized extrication tools and techniques are needed. With rescuers in more and more countries becoming aware of this, the overall demand for these tools and techniques has increased over the years. What makes the overall discipline of extrication rescue so successful is that it combines technical extrication skills with advanced medical care of the patient. From the second a crash occurs the medical condition of a trapped victim will continue to worsen From the second a crash occurs the medical condition of a trapped patient will begin to worsen. Approximately 50% of road traffic deaths occur at the crash scene. As we all know, the need for patients to get to a hospital as soon as possible is essential in increasing the chance of survival. To this end, we tend to invest much time and money developing well-run ambulance services that can carry the patient to a hospital safely and efficiently. What is often forgotten, however, is the importance of ensuring that we do not harm the patient any further when freeing him from his position in the vehicle. Extrication rescue should not only be used when it is physically impossible to remove a patient. It should also be routinely used to make sure that the patient is not moved or handled in a way that could further compromise his or her already delicate medical condition. Techniques such as a side and roof removal help to ensure that the patient can be removed from the vehicle in an in-line movement to protect him against the aggravation of potentially dangerous spinal injuries. This technique is just one example of how simple procedures can significantly increase the possibility of full recovery from a motor vehicle collision. Challenges with extrication rescue efforts Research in the field of extrication rescue, as with pre-hospital care, is extremely limited due to ethical and practical issues. Extrication rescue efforts are even more problematic to prove. What has been shown is that, of the high percentage of deaths occurring in the pre-hospital stage, many can be avoided. Moreover, many complications resulting in disability in the pre-hospital phase could also be avoided. Rescuers must use tools designed to cope with New Car Technology Unfortunately, we can see a large difference between the likelihood of surviving the pre-hospital stage in more developed countries as opposed to low and middle income countries. Perhaps this can be attributed not only to the lack of emergency medical services in these countries, but also to the lack of expertise and equipment for the extrication of victims from their damaged vehicles. Another important consideration is the advent of new stronger vehicle constructions on the roads today. To deal with these, rescue tool manufacturers constantly have to develop stronger tools (especially cutters). New Car Technology often introduces the paradox of safety vs. accessibility. In other words, the very construction that makes it possible for a driver of a car to survive the impact may well be the reason why it is impossible for a rescuer to free the victim when working with old, out of date rescue tools. Basic first-aid training is not enough In low and middle-income countries, patient transport by ambulance from the crash scene is rare, with most patients being transported by commercial vehicles having been "rescued" by the general public. Some programs are being developed to provide basic first-aid training to those most likely to come across vehicle collisions. Hopefully this will decrease mortality rates. It may also be worth further investigating whether providing more extrication skills to those responsible for the rescue of patients from their damaged vehicles may also decrease mortality rates. Providing only first aid skills may even prove to be harmful where there is no formal system in place to control the extrication process. Teamwork is critical to extrication rescue success Extrication rescue not only equips rescuers to aid victims, but also to maintain their own safety on scene The scene of a motor vehicle collision is not the controlled environment of an operating or consultation room. The rescue scene has many dangers and risks associated with it and these have to be controlled. Extrication rescue does not only provide knowledge to rescuers on how to safely extricate patients, it also equips them with the skills to ensure that they do not become injured themselves during the rescue. Extrication rescue techniques also include the various activities that must be done to ensure that all personnel involved in the rescue scene are working in a safe environment. A perfect example of this is the importance of ensuring that the vehicle's battery is disconnected in order to remove the chance of an electrical short circuit starting a fire. In terms of safety, the other matter to consider is the fact that many different services have to work together on a rescue scene. The only way to ensure safety for all involved is for the services to work together as one team: each knowing exactly what their responsibilities are. Brendon Morris - Consultation & Training Manager, Holmatro Rescue Equipment
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