The Grenfell Tower Inquiry in the Phase 1 report noted that “Fire doors play an essential role in preventing or inhibiting the spread of smoke and toxic gases and in preserving the effective compartmentation of buildings.” The Inquiry noted that the fire doors in Grenfell Tower did not, through damage and/or disrepair, act in the way that they should so that they prevent smoke and gases from spreading. The Inquiry recommended (Recommendations 33.29 (a) and (b)) that the owner and manager of every residential building containing separate dwellings carry out an urgent inspection of all fire doors to ensure compliance with current legislative standards and that regular (no less than every three months) checks be carried out to ensure all fire doors are fitted with an effective self-closing device which is in working order. In addition, the Inquiry recommended (Recommendation 33.30) that all those who have responsibility for the condition of the entrance doors to individual flats in high-rise residential buildings (with unsafe cladding) be required by law to ensure these doors comply with current standards.
Prior to the Fire Safety Act 2021, flat entrance doors in multi-occupied residential buildings may not have been routinely considered as part of the fire risk assessment process. The Fire Safety Act 2021 has removed the legal ambiguity and confirms that flat entrance doors are in scope of the Fire Safety Order.
The Fire Safety (England) Regulations 2022 will make it a legal requirement from 23 January 2023 for responsible persons for all multi-occupied residential buildings in England with storeys over 11 metres in height to:
- Undertake quarterly checks of all fire doors (including self-closing devices) in the common parts; and,
- Undertake – on a best endeavour basis – annual checks of all flat entrance doors (including self-closing devices) that lead onto a building’s common parts.
The regulations will also require responsible persons to provide to residents of all multi-occupied residential buildings with two or more sets of domestic premises (that have common parts) information on the importance of fire doors to a building’s fire safety.