How to Make Fire Doors Work in Healthcare Settings

Posted on: 22 August 2019

Patient safety is paramount in any healthcare setting, and that doesn't just stop at the medical services themselves. Healthcare managers also need to consider the risk of fire and how to protect patients from it.

Fire doors are the best way to compartmentalise a hospital or clinic, keeping fire contained and giving patients the best chance of evacuating without suffering smoke inhalation or burns. Of course, fire doors need to function as actual doors too. They also need to stay in top condition if you want them to do their job effectively. This can be a struggle in healthcare settings because they'll be opened and closed hundreds or even thousands of times a day, and they're easily subjected to damage from wheeled trollies and stretchers—damage which can eat into the hospital budget.

Thankfully, it is possible to make fire doors work in hospitals. You just need to have a strategy in mind. Here are three tips to follow.

Choose New Doors Carefully

Fire doors come in all shapes, sizes and specifications. When getting new doors installed or old doors replaced, it's important that you choose the right ones for your hospital. In particular, you need doors that can withstand heavy use and battering from medical equipment. These doors have impact protection precautions and more robust hardware that will stand up to the daily wear and tear they'll face in a healthcare setting. If you're not sure how to choose the best doors, make sure you choose a reputable and experienced fire door contractor who can make the right selection for your application.

Prioritise the Key Doors

Hospitals can have dozens and dozens of fire doors, and large city hospitals may even have hundreds. Keeping all these doors maintained can be a huge drain on the financial resources that are already struggling to cover patient care. To help combat this, managers should look at the hospital's fire strategy and determine which doors are paramount to the evacuation strategy. Identify the doors that lead to escape routes and fire refuge spaces. These doors should be considered critical priority and maintained the most frequently, while the less important doors can go longer without assessment. This allows you to reduce maintenance costs without compromising on patient safety.

Use Experienced Maintenance Teams

Since fire doors are typically made from timber, there's technically no reason they can't be repaired and maintained by a traditional carpenter. As such, many hospitals attempt to cut costs by using the most affordable local carpentry companies instead of specialist fire door contractors. However, it's important to note that fire doors have to adhere to very specific codes of guidance, particularly with regard to their seals, glazing, and hardware. This is something most carpenters aren't aware of. If you don't use a maintenance team with experience in the area, you could find yourself with incomplete repairs or non-compliant doors. This would require you to have the doors assessed and repaired again or more frequently, which means using experienced fire door professionals can actually save you money even if they appear more expensive.