Jump to content

Flat Entrance Doors


Recommended Posts

Hi, please would you be able to steer us in the right direction please.  We are managing agents for a purpose built block of flats - dated 1980s.

'Stay Put' evacuation policy.

Each flat has a FD30 with Perko / chain self-closer.  They are the original doors dating back to 1980.

No fire strips or smoke seals on approximately 50% of flat entrance doors, but others (but only where residents have taken it upon themselves for their own peace of mind) have.

Question is, should ALL the flat entrance doors now have fire and smoke seals retrospectively fitted as mandatory, or just best practice??  FRA report shows they must have them fitted, but doesn't state who's responsible for arranging this i.e. is it the person responsible for the common parts, or the leaseholders of the flats themselves?

I think I read somewhere that the adaptations to the FSO are being pushed through at the moment to make the Landlords responsible for maintenance / upkeep of flat entrance doors which open on to a common stairway - so, if the flats are owner occupied, does the owner of the common parts then have to make sure the flat entrance doors are maintained or is that the flat owners duty?

Is there any difference in the responsibilities for owner occupied flats and those rented?

You guys have probably seen this before, but we are stuck in the middle between the residents and the owner of the common parts as to who should be looking after the doors!

As always, any help / steer much appreciated. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It depends on the size and layout of the flats - if the assessor correctly applies the current accepted guidance then in many blocks existing notional doors are acceptable.

A sample of doors should have been inspected as by the 1980's Intumescent strips were the norm - if not visible they could be the type of fire door where the strip is hidden behind the lipping (the door would have a marker plus to indicate this).

If your block is quite large and through the guidance would require the upgrading of existing doors or the complete replacement of the door set then this normally falls down to the leaseholder - because of the risk to communal parts the freeholder is still responsible for getting the leaseholder to comply, in extreme cases the freeholder should seek enforcement through the Housing Act via the local authority.

Currently the front doors are relevant to the common space and the freeholder's risk assessment even though control rests with the lease holder, but this isn't set clearly in the current legislation so the Fire Safety Bill seeks to be more explicit with two clauses that firstly make the freeholder responsible for assessing the doors in risk assessments (as well as all balconies and external structure) and secondly responsible for annual inspection of flat front doors. These clauses do not remove the current leaseholder's liability for effecting repairs & replacement; however a third addition that had been removed, but has been put back in by the House of Lords, that protects leaseholders from fire safety costs relating to the Bill (with the exception of where they also are part owners as is the case where Right to Manage has been effected and the freehold is owned and managed by the leaseholders via a TMC). The legislation is still in 'ping pong' between the Commons & Lords so there is still time for things being removed and added before enactment.

Whether the leaseholder occupies the flat or lets it out is largely irrelevant to fire safety matters under the FSO and usually affects internal fire safety requirements under housing legislation.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi AnthonyB - thank you so much for such a comprehensive answer - that is really very useful to us.

It is interesting as we have been reading the last 5 years worth of FRA's for this property - every year, the guidance used by the assessor has changed in as much as they each have their own opinion on what needs to be done to the doors.  3 out of the 5 state that they should retrospectively install fire and smoke seals, but 1 said the notional fire door with door stop is acceptable.

1 of the assessors advised that the doors are non-compliant due to having no smoke seals and the Perko hinges being fitted being no longer compliant?

But in my very limited knowledge of FRA's, I had in the back of my mind that the FRA cannot insist upon retrospectively changing things just because they no longer would meet current guidance?  Unless of course there is a significant risk to life?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yes, the current risk assessment methodology (published by the British Standards Institute and known as PAS 79-1 & PAS79-2) requires a sensible and sympathetic approach to be taken to buildings with legacy fire safety features.

Unlike Building Regulations and the old fire safety legislation there is no statutory bar anymore - in the past unless the premises was altered new standards couldn't be applied to existing buildings. However this led to many buildings in the 2000's being stuck with fire safety systems and standards from the 60's and 70's, some of which were still effective, but others proven to be dangerously outdated.

The fire risk assessor should see initially if the premises complied first with legacy standards. If it doesn't action must be taken. If it does they are meant to compare the old standards with the new and determine the risks posed by this and if they are tolerable - if so they need not be modernised, if not then the current standard must be implemented.
An extreme example is that when hotels first had to obtain a fire certificate they could do so without any automatic fire detection, just break glass call points and bells. If such a hotel certified in 1974 remained unchanged other than decor and so didn't need an amended fire certificate the fire service were powerless to make it fit detectors even though everyone would accept that smoke detectors in sleeping premises are essential for life safety - when the FSO came in this went out of the window and regardless of it's original compliance it would be expected to modernise.

So in some types of buildings I'm happy with old fire door technology as long as maintained in good order, whilst in others I'll want upgrading (I am a practicing risk assessor on the Tiered Nationally Accredited Fire Risk Assessors Register)

A decent risk assessor will have knowledge of the old as well as the new standards as well as the science and notable fire incidents that led to changed guidance (& why) and be able to apply them appropriately, however so many, especially with residential properties, don't have the knowledge and skills to do this appropriately.

The guidance to be followed is here: https://www.bedsfire.gov.uk/Business-safety/Premises-fire-safety/LGA-fire-safety-in-purpose-built-blocks-of-flats.pdf



Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You are posting as a guest. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...