Flooding and fire can both have incredibly severe consequences, however the risks are often managed separately. It is vital that mitigating one issue does not inadvertently cause other issues- particularly where safety related.
It is imperative that a fire door remains accessible and operable. As a Civil Engineer & Flood Surveyor, I have visited hundreds of properties across the country, helping clients better understand their flood risk, along with how to manage it.
When installing flood barriers, it is important to consider how the building is used. In certain instances, flood barriers have been installed across outward opening fire doors, meaning they cannot be opened if the barrier is in situ. It is easy to imagine a scenario where this could prove dangerous. If someone were to install the barrier because of a flood warning, but remained in the building, the access route would then be blocked in an emergency and it would not be possible to open the door.
When considering fire door flood mitigation, the escape routes should be considered. This usually leaves two options, which you will see in the gallery.
- Install the barrier internally such that the door can still be opened.
- Create a U shape through the use of demountable posts or walls/pillars.
Investment in research and development has allowed new products to be brought to the market, including flood fire doors. Whilst these do allow the door to function as a normal fire door in dry conditions, it should be noted that if there is a flood, opening the door could be incredibly difficult or impossible, and allow water to rush into the property. It is therefore vital that all aspects are correctly considered prior to installation.
Both Fire and Flood Action Plans should be updated to include the measures implemented.
Simon Crowther BEng (Hons) C.WEM MCIWEM