Editor, IFSEC Global

Author Bio ▼

Adam Bannister was Editor of IFSEC Global from 2014 through to November 2019. Adam is also a former Managing Editor at Dynamis Online Media Group.
February 6, 2014

Sign up to free email newsletters


Whitepaper: Reshaping the future of retail with security technology

Dodgy Fire Door of the Year Winner 2014

The winning fire door - hardly worthy of the name with a chunk missing

The winning fire door: hardly worthy of the name with a chunk missing

An unnamed care home has been crowned (with a crown of thorns no doubt) champion at the not-so-prestigious Dodgy Fire Door of the Year awards.

Launched by the Fire Door Inspection Scheme (FDIS) last April, the Theodore Firedoor campaign publicizes the widespread problems of ill-fitting, damaged, and poorly maintained fire doors.

The photo on the right shows one of the offending fire doors. Neatly “adapted” to fit a stairlift, the fire door is thus rendered completely useless.

You may as well use saloon-style swing doors you see in Westerns!

This fire door would offer no protection for building users and a fire would spread rapidly in a building with — for obvious reasons — slow evacuation times.More than 40 photos of dodgy fire doors were submitted to the Theodore Firedoor Facebook page last year. Badly damaged hotel and hospital fire doors occupy the other slots in the top three.

No intumescent seal
The hotel fire door (below right) had sustained considerable damage to the door leaf and was devoid of an intumescent seal, which expands and seals the gap between door and frame in the event of a fire. This fire door would provide little to no protection to a hotel packed with guests.

The hospital fire door (see below) had obviously sustained damage from the sheer volume of through traffic. Damaged to its core, the door’s effectiveness would be severely compromised in the event of fire.

Theodore Firedoor lives on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube and encourages sharing of dodgy fire-door information across these social media channels. His video showing the appalling fire-door maintenance at a city hospital last summer has already attracted more than 2,000 views.

“Of course the consequences of such poor fire door maintenance are much greater than just getting a photo posted onto Facebook,” said Neil Ashdown, manager of FDIS. He continued:

In third place, this effort from a hotel

In second place, this strong effort from a hotel

“Theodore Firedoor has made visible an epidemic of dodgy fire doors in all sorts of buildings and across all parts of the UK, and where such safety breaches occur, prosecutions are sure to follow.”

The number of prosecutions we are seeing shows a frightening lack of awareness among building owners about their responsibilities under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order, or RRO as it is often known. Dodgy fire doors are usually just one of many signs of fire safety negligence.

This matches the experience of FDIS Certificated Inspectors who are now providing professional fire door inspection services to a wide range of clients in England. Thankfully FDIS inspectors are much in demand and are helping to transform knowledge and understanding about the critical role of fire doors and how they can save lives and protect property. FDIS Inspectors can carry out on-site inspections of installed fire doors in existing or new buildings. This is an essential part of any fire risk assessment required by law to be done by a building’s Responsible Person.

Analysis by FDIS of the RRO prosecutions last year suggests that ill-informed or negligent property owners are more likely than ever to receive large fines or even significant prison sentences. Courts are able to hand out unlimited fines and up to two years in jail.

The most frequent fire door offenders in 2013 were small business owners running rented accommodation above shops and landlords operating houses in multiple occupation. However, the largest fine issued in 2013 was GB pound 50,000 to the owner of Abbey College in Malvern which the judge said had “woefully inadequate” fire safety measures that included “non-functional fire doors in student sleeping areas”.

The longest prison sentence was a 15-month suspended sentence given to the owner of a takeaway in Croydon who was found guilty of committing a string of fire safety offences in his premises including no fire doors to the bedrooms on the first and second floors. Munawar Ahmed was also fined GB pound 40,000 and ordered to do 100 hours of unpaid work.

The most tragic case resulted in the death of a seven-year-old boy in one of many properties without fire doors owned by a landlord in Kettering. The landlord was jailed for nine months and also ordered to pay GB pound 7,500 in costs.

Other cases included:

The hospital entry: a strong entry in a field of ineffectual fire doors

This hospital fire door bagged the bronze medal

  • An HMO landlord in Blackpool who was fined GB pound 36,000 plus costs of GB pound 7,000 after admitting 10 breaches of the Fire Safety Order including fire doors that did not close properly.
  • Fine of GB pound 48,000 for owners of a nursing home in Liverpool for putting the safety of elderly residents at risk with various actions including “having wedged-open and defective fire doors”.
  • A GB pound 12,000 fine for a Blackpool Indian takeaway boss in a case that cited “inadequate fire doors”.
  • A four-month suspended prison sentence and a GB pound 30,000 fine for the former director of a health spa in Clapham for breaking fire safety regulations including having no fire doors on the ground floor and no self-closing doors leading onto the buildings escape routes.

Neil Ashdown urges building owners, including landlords, care homes, hotels, and hospitals, to use the services of a FDIS inspector:

An FDIS Certificated Inspector will carry out a fully comprehensive inspection of all your fire doors, well documented with recommendations for remedial guidance if called for. This help and guidance is invaluable when compiling the overall risk assessment for the building.

Inspectors can be found here.

In the meantime, the Theodore Firedoor campaign is continuing in 2014 and will publish more pictures of dodgy fire doors.

Pictures can be sent in to Theodore Firedoor’s Facebook page, via his Twitter account @Theodore_Firedoor, and his email address [email protected].

Free download: A Technical Guide to Sprinkler Systems

Do you know the legal requirements for sprinkler systems? Do you know when and where should they be used? Download this technical guide from Barbour, coveirng the types, design, maintenance and – most importantly – the  legislation surrounding sprinkler systems.

Related Topics

Notify of
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
February 6, 2014 2:53 pm

Should name and shame – Newport County Court with store room door wedged open. There are loads and will be happy to upload some which include fire services and public buildings.

February 9, 2014 5:02 pm

Unfortunately, pics like these are simple to find, and especially in NHS and Care home premises. Sadly, Fire Service cuts (otherwise labelled “improvements”), have ensured that, as Whitehall dictated “new” responsibilities to the industry from the centre, the officials writing the new procedures, intent on changing things, seem to have neglected what was in place before their no doubt well intentioned intervention. We used to call the fire service to care homes to test response times, so important when the elderly and infirm are at risk, and always we had two tenders at scene within 5 minutes. With cuts from… Read more »

February 21, 2014 12:06 pm

This is mind blowing. Fire doors of those places should top such a notorious list where they are needed more than anywhere else. These are exactly the places where such negligence would cost most dearly in terms of life and money. This so called “Care Home” should be rewarded for providing such care to people in it. Shame!

February 22, 2014 11:37 am

@ Lankylad, this is indeed the sad truth. It is ironic that the axe of budget cuts should fall at such an important department. We must be prepared for more such scenes and government must be prepared to face more criticism after each such news because people are going to blame every such thing on budget cuts.

Mister Littlebit
Mister Littlebit
March 13, 2014 3:47 pm

You must admit, they made a neat job of it though!……