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Are door mats outside door a fire risk?


Guest JohnBla

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Hi John, if the route is a protected route then it should be sterile of unnecessary fire loading (things that can burn), the essential fabrics are accepted as being necessary otherwise it would be a cold place! The subject of doormats, always raises concerns & when completing a fire risk assessment I do not get upset or ask for simple doormats (designed as such & not a piece of old carpet) to be removed as long as they are not likely to present a trip hazard.

Hope this helps, your housing association should have conducted a fire risk assessment of the common parts with regular reviews, if they are an issue then the fire risk assessor should have recorded their removal as an action point.

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  • 7 months later...

Your responsibility ends at your front door and the commons area including the corridors are the responsibility and property of the housing association. The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 requires the housing association to conduct a fire risk assessment of the common area, which they have done and decided that door mats are a hazard, I suspect a tripping hazard therefore not allowed. I believe you do not have any right of challenge other than to speak to your housing association and try to change there mind.

Have you considered having the door mat inside the flat, I do, I live in a house and if I had it outside is would not work.

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  • 3 years later...

The fact of the matter is John, That the manufacturers, sellers and importers of door mats can get sued if you trip over them so they now produce mats that are non-slip non-trip especially the welcome mats that you can buy. Also in the fire regulations 1988 all domestic furnishings have to be fire retardant which includes door mats. I believe the council are using very old regulations about 30 years old in older to get their point across.

Regards MikeW

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  • 3 weeks later...

You need a solicitor not a fire safety forum, considering the fire safety aspect, a door mat can be a hazard depending on an assessment but how the Responsible Person should deal with it, is for the RP and his/her actions is not a fire safety problem.

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On 02/11/2017 at 15:58, Guest Hannayhouse said:

I  anyone aware or any power a housing organisation has to remove and keep or destroy a tenants door mat with or without notice or explanation?

I'm sorry to disappoint you but the HA have a choice with regards to controlling the presence of combustible materials and ignition sources in communal areas. It seems to me that they adopted ‘zero tolerance’ policy, i.e. the common parts are effectively ‘sterile’ - free of combustible materials, ignition sources and obstructions based on the fire risk assessment. 

The alternative would be to adopt the ‘managed use’ policy. There are advantages and disadvantages to both policies. The so called 'managed use' policy would allow residents to store, for example, pot plants and door mats outside their front doors, have framed pictures and notice boards on walls, store bicycles, prams and mobility scooters in places that are out of the way and not likely to cause obstruction. 

If I were you, I would accept their findings. The HA may quote 'Fire safety in purpose-builtblocks of flats' guide. Although this is only a guidance document (unlike Approved Code of Practices enshrined in law), this guide is widely used by enforcing authorities, amongst others. Good luck!

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On 11/07/2014 at 12:17, Guest Eclipse said:

If the fire risk assessor records the doormats removal as an action point, can this be challenged?

Anything can be challenged but if he/she suggested 'zero tolerance' policy it would be difficult to challenge it. Mind you, enforcing authorities favour this policy over the 'managed use' policy. 

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Guest Red Devil 1969

We are a social housing provider. We have a managed approach with our 2, 3 and 4 storey flats. We allow doormats and some small household items provided they do not constitute a trip hazard and are not readily ignitable. The question has been highlighted regarding tenants carpeting outside of their flat on the communal landing and sometimes on the stairs. 

I personally don't see any issues within these low and mid-rise buildings as it fosters a sense of pride within the flats and therefore the residents will tend to look after the area. This is on the proviso that all other fire systems are in good condition and security to the communal area is controlled.

Please give me any ideas or thoughts...

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I would agree with you it is all about risk assessment, I know some require a total ban and some a more reasonable approach, I think I would take the more reasonable approach, but it is important the tenants know the necessary limits.

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  • 3 weeks later...
Guest Scrambled

I was interested to see this issue talked about here.

I live in what is called, by the local council, a walk up block. It has a ground floor and a top floor, with external stairs. I have my own front door that opens to the elements, a walkway that services just five people, including me.

These so called 'blocks' are designed mainly for those over the age of 60. We were issued letters to remove everything in front of our doors in September last year, in quite a forceful way. We were told we would be fined if items, including doormats, were not removed. Again, we were told the doormats were a fire hazard. Since I challenged this, I have discovered that they are not classed as a fire hazard, from the Fire Risk Assessment, carried out in June 2017. I have spoken to both the Fire Service, and the Risk Assessors, who say they a absolutely not a fire hazard, or a source of ignition. I have also asked for statistics as evidence, to back up the councils claim of them being a fire hazard, but none provided.

So it comes down to the trip hazard. There are no statistics to prove they are. The Fire and Rescue Services consider the stairs to be more of a risk than the doormat. That, and the fact my front door, is not a fire door. When I asked if there were any reported incidents, where a fire fighter had trip on a doormat, again, none.

The zero tolerance policy I understand, in larger blocks of flats. But the managed use policy would have been a better option for the walk up blocks. What really annoyed me was, one option for using  zero tolerance was " if there is doubt over the ability of residents to apply the managed use policy". So who is going to do the assessment of residents to determine their ability?

In my humble opinion, if councils are going to apply zero tolerance, then it has to ALL properties. In recent days I passed a 'council' house. I'm surprised anyone could get to the front door, let alone a fire fighter! There was so much rubbish in the way.

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 I would agree with you that door mats are a very low fire risk but they are certainly a tripping hazard in varying degrees and it is important that you do not create a situation where people escaping could fall with possible serious results.

I have a door mat and it is in a doormat well which is designed to eliminate any tripping hazard but like the council house tenants I am not subject to the RR(FS)O so it is an issue that does not rise. 

I think they should be subject to a fire risk assessment and managed but unfortunately some landlords look for the easy way out.

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  • 5 months later...
Guest Zero means Zero
On ‎01‎/‎04‎/‎2019 at 14:45, Guest Scrambled said:

So it comes down to the trip hazard. There are no statistics to prove they are. The Fire and Rescue Services consider the stairs to be more of a risk than the doormat. That, and the fact my front door, is not a fire door. When I asked if there were any reported incidents, where a fire fighter had a trip on a doormat, again, none.

There is a BIG difference between FIREMEN who are highly trained / ready for emergency / ready for action / physically fit / experienced and prepared / in practical boots and protective gear / with oxygen to breathe and visors over their eyes to SEE better in the smoke / while surrounded by all of their equally prepared colleagues nearby / plus radio communications for support (should any of them graze their knee on a doormat)...

...Compared to somebody vulnerable / elderly or very young / ill or disabled / who can't find their glasses or blind / with smoke burning their eyes / wearing slippers or no shoes / still half asleep and totally unprepared / choking and coughing etc / who is rushing out in a panic to the air and safety.

YES it is possible that somebody might trip over a doormat. Maybe they can't see it because of smoke or other people in front of them. Maybe they have a visual impairment. Maybe somebody is carrying a child or a pet so that they can't see their own feet properly. Maybe the doormat had moved when your neighbour ran out earlier in a panic so you didn't know it was there. Maybe one person pushing another caused them to trip over the doormat. Maybe the neighbour's dog or cat got its claw caught on the doormat running out and the corner got bent over like you didn't expect. Etc. Never say never!

And what if the communal FIRE EXIT involves several people, then just ONE person tripping up could hold up ALL the other people behind.

Just like the lottery, it could be YOU or someone you love, but NOT in a good way and then you would be sorry. The 'harmless doormat' could be a wild card if you want to play that card with people's lives, and if something happens then it won't be so harmless anymore. Everyone knows that freak accidents can happen every day anywhere at any time and in ways that you could never believe or expect or predict.

Even if only ONE person (recorded or not) has ever tripped just ONCE on a doormat in their whole lives in the history of the WHOLE universe - then that would be sufficient to say NO doormats where a ZERO tolerance policy is concerned - because the number 1 is higher than 0 and the meaning of zero HAS to be zero.

NOTHING COULD BE SAFER THAN REMOVING THIS DOORMAR HAZARD QUESTION ALTOGETHER. Not having recorded statistics is NOT a reason to tempt fate. Everyone should keep their own doormat INSIDE their own front door where it is not public and not a potential trip hazard of more than ZERO.

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  • 11 months later...
Guest Brenda

Is there a fire regulation number that is to not allow pictures in the hallway of an apartment building.  We must have 30 pictures all different types on the walls and they are anything from painted to cardboard

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It's up to whoever is responsible for the common areas. If they are taking a 'zero tolerance' approach to compliance then you would expect them to be removed. If they wish to implement and monitor a 'managed use' approach then framed pictures could be retained.

It's discussed in here p55-61  https://www.local.gov.uk/sites/default/files/documents/fire-safety-purpose-built-04b.pdf

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  • 3 months later...
Guest Door Mats

I have lived in my HA flat for over 13 years and I have always had a proper non trip mat outside my front door since moving in.

The HA have only in the last year said that mats aren't allowed. Do i have any rights or a say in the matter, bearing in mind no-one has mentioned or said anything about having a mat outside my door for 12 years.

PS: the mat isn't suitable to be inside as the door won't open as it has a draught excluding brush on it.

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Guest Stevan Stringer

I've been told I can't have a welcome mat outside my door because it's a fire hazard but in my building witch has six flats we have wooden letter boxes under a electrical point and they even have phone books sat on top of them I told wdh this and said they are contradicting themselves this was 8 months ago nothing gets done

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