Fire doors don’t normally attract much attention from users. They are well-established products, routinely produced by specialist manufacturers with many years of know-how behind them, based on well-validated developed designs backed by a great deal of test evidence accrued over many years.
But in the current crisis fire doors are receiving particular attention by hospital authorities looking to maximise their treatment and specialist care facilities.
NHS Trusts have been calling on specialist fire door manufacturers to respond with urgency, for existing orders to be completed ahead of schedule and for new requests to be dealt with as soon as possible so that wards can be brought back into service and up to a state-of-readiness to help cope with the extreme demands now faced by all hospitals.
Fire doors are essential for effective compartmentation against flame and smoke spread in case of fire. They are necessary in all types of buildings, to varying extents. But the need for fire doors in hospitals is particularly important given the size of hospital buildings, the range of specialist activities brought together under one roof and of course the vital need to protect the building itself and its vulnerable patients, expensive kit and valued NHS staff.
Ease of access without compromising safety and security is important throughout a hospital building. That is especially so for dedicated treatment and high-dependency care units where isolation and separation are high priorities, particularly where oxygen demand is also high.
Fire door manufacturers have responded to provide hospitals with special support when needed. But that could not be done without cooperation in turn from the wider supply network for the various materials and components necessary to make a finished fire door.
Those include, for example, door cores, hardware, fire-resistant glass, smoke and fire seals as well as finishing laminates and protective layers which are particularly needed for hospital applications. That might also require understanding in these difficult times where limited stocks exist to help transfer material to those who can best use it to complete orders.
It’s a reminder that continuity of a viable UK sector requires complex manufacturing, together with a network of various support operations. Without the sector hospitals (and other users) would not have such access on request to finished manufactured fire doors when needed in an emergency.