During routine maintenance at Queen Alexandra Hospital in Cosham this February, it was discovered that hundreds of fire doors are not up to scratch and require replacement. A major project to replace the 564 fire doors to ensure they are sturdy enough is in the midst of taking place. The discovery goes to show the importance of regular testing and maintenance of fire doors and fire safety equipment, especially in hospitals, schools, and other establishments where there are potentially hundreds of vulnerable people present.
The Cosham-based hospital only installed the fire doors around 10 years ago, yet a third of all fire doors in the hospital were discovered to be substandard. On some of the fire doors it was found that the integrity of the glass was not to a standard of robustness that was required from a fire door, whilst metal fire doors with glazed window panels did not all have the correct markings on the glass that should be uniform across all doors of this nature.
The team behind the management of the hospital were extremely quick to recognise the problem and take action, with the replacement of all found substandard fire doors a priority. The fire safety team responsible for assessing the risk did note that the risk was seen as moderate due to the other fire safety standards in place and that the likelihood of a fire is low, but that does not hide away from the sub-standard fire doors that require replacing.
Especially in hospitals and other medical establishments where there are countless vulnerable patients that would be at serous risk if a fire was to start, it is important to be as proactive as possible with fire safety. This goes beyond sturdy fire doors, but the installation and correct use of sturdy fire doors is an extremely important factor of fire safety. A good fire door in medical establishments should close automatically and close off sections of a building where a fire has started. This ensures that the spread of fire and smoke is delayed. This delay provides vital minutes for patients, doctors, and other staff and equipment to safely escape the building via designated fire escape routes.
For such a large number of fire doors to not be sturdy enough could lead to a problem in the event of a fire.
By mid April fire resistant board was installed to replace glass on 100 doors within hazardous areas in the hospital. All other fire doors are planned to be replaced by May 19th, with the high risk areas having replacement doors currently in the manufacturing process.
In the meantime, Hampshire Fire and Rescue service has liaised with Portsmouth NHS Hospitals Trust to have measures in place to ensure safety during the phase where fire doors are being replaced at the hospital. This includes trained hospital staff patrolling affected areas, as well as increased response levels to 999 calls made from affected areas.