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How Facilities Managers Can Help To Open The Door To A New Era Of Fire Safety

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As the industry awaits the latest regulatory changes around fire safety, facilities managers on the ground have a unique opportunity to play a lead role in helping to make sure best practice happens. Here, Iain Macmillan, Teamleader Certification & Compliance at JELD-WEN, examines what the new rules mean for facilities managers in terms of fire doors.

Fire doors are a vital component of any fire safety strategy. When designed, tested, manufactured, installed and maintained correctly, they can help to save lives.  As part of a much greater focus on fire safety when properties are maintained and upgraded, fire door safety will continue to be brought into sharper focus, as seen in a series of new rules.

This began with the introduction of the Fire Safety Act 2021 in May which modifies the previous Fire Safety Order (FSO) to clarify several points for those involved in assessing and insuring fire safety risks. Alongside this, the Fire Safety (England) Regulations 2022 will come into force on 23 January 2023.

In addition, having received Royal Assent in April, the Building Safety Act, which will set out a host of tightened sanctions on how residential buildings should be constructed and maintained, is also on the horizon.

However, depending on the type of building, in some areas there still remains confusion as to which regulations apply and to who – making it difficult to understand and implement best practice procedures. This is especially pertinent for the busy facilities manager who will, most likely, play a leading role in ensuring compliance.

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The ‘Responsible Persons’

To understand the regulatory changes, it’s important to first look at the Responsible Person. Under the Fire Safety Order (FSO), the Responsible Person is referred to as anyone who has control or a degree of control of the premises. In practice, this could mean, depending on the context, everyone from the owner, landlord, and managing agent through to the building manager, risk assessor, contractor and, of course, facilities manager.
One concern is that this level of ambiguity may continue to make fire safety compliance especially complex by multiple parties having an interest in one site. 

To address this, the overriding principle is to never assume anything, at either contract or operational stages. Instead, compliance can only be achieved by an open, transparent and clear communication between all parties, including the facilities manager, to understand their level of involvement and, in turn, accountability in the fire safety chain. Even with the best working relationships in the world, the expert consensus is that everything must be formalised into a written agreement for a traceable dialogue, something most facilities managers will already be well versed in.

What do the ‘Responsibilities’ mean for fire doors?

The Fire Safety Act, in short, makes it a specific legal requirement to check fire doors at certain intervals. In terms of what this responsibility will entail, it means the Responsible Person for any residential building with two or more domestic premises with common areas, now has a legal responsibility to complete a fire risk assessment to include the structure and the external walls, including the doors and windows, and attachments such as balconies, cladding, and insulation. Action to remove or negate the risks identified must then be taken.

As of 23 January 2023, in England only the Responsible Person will also acquire additional responsibilities under the Fire Safety Regulations 2022. In the case of multi-occupied residential buildings over 11 metres and above, this will include undertaking quarterly checks on fire doors in common parts and annual checks, on a best endeavours basis, on all flat entrance doors. This should be supported with the provision of fire safety instructions and information on the importance of fire doors. This is accompanied by more specific stipulations for higher rises.  

Finally, under the Building Safety Act, which is concerned with high-rise residential buildings of 18m and above or of seven storeys or more, ‘a principal accountable person’ will be legally responsible for ensuring that building safety risks associated are effectively managed and resolved. This person must engage residents throughout the building’s occupation, providing a route to raise concerns about safety and mechanisms to ensure their concerns will be heard and taken seriously.

Importantly too, the Act requires all applicable high-rise buildings to be managed by a building safety manager whose role will be to support the accountable person in the day-to-day management of the building to ensure safety standards are adhered to. 

Due Diligence

Indeed, the evolving fire safety landscape may present a lot to get to grips with, especially when it comes to fire doors, for the already time-strapped facilities manager. 

However, there is a wealth of support out there from industry experts. At JELD-WEN, for example, we are able to work closely with customers to ensure the exacting fire door or doorset specification as fully accredited under the BWF-Certifire scheme for the ultimate quality assurance of both products and procedures. In addition, we can provide a helping hand throughout the entire process; from making recommendations for change through to leveraging opportunities to improve efficiencies and processes as part of the bigger picture. 

In this way, by taking the time to review their current fire door safety policy and consider ways to ensure compliance and incorporate best practice, facilities managers can play an important role in opening the door to a new era of fire safety for all.


Our new white paper ‘Fire Safety: Time to Shut the Door on Risk’

JELD-WEN’s recently launched a new white paper ‘Fire Safety: Time to Shut the Door on Risk’ which is available for free to download.

Download now