The LWF Blog

Fire Safety for Facilities Management Personnel – Building Security vs Fire Safety – Part 135

February 7, 2022 1:16 pm

Lawrence Webster Forrest (LWF) is a specialist fire engineering and fire risk management consultancy whose aim is to give information on best practice in fire safety for facilities management personnel through this blog series. In part 134, LWF discussed the points of consideration for a combined approach to fire safety and building security, particularly in relation to fire doors. In part 135, we continue in looking at the challenges presented by fire doors when considering both fire safety and building security.

Maintaining building security while providing suitable egress from a building in case of fire can present challenges. Fire doors must be openable from the inside by building occupants in case of fire, to facilitate a safe evacuation.

There are some instances where an enforcing authority may accept the use of additional fastenings, such as padlocks and chains during periods of non-occupation of the building. For instance, a cinema may obtain permission to use these additional security measures, provided there is a formal and reliable procedure for their removal prior to the public being given admission to the premises. It should not be considered acceptable in any building without appropriate consultation with the relevant enforcement authorities.

While windows of the building may be barred for security purposes, as they do not form a part of the building’s means of escape provision, the barring of windows may still be unadvisable. A window is typically not used as part of an evacuation of the building by persons inside, unless in exceptional circumstances it has been agreed that a designed window exit is appropriate for a very small number of persons.

A barred window can restrict the ability of the Fire Service to effect a rescue from the building and can impede fire-fighting procedures. Historical fires which resulted in the death of persons on the premises have shown that barring windows can prevent escape from fire and the potential effect of window bars on fire safety has been noted in BS 8220 Guide for security of buildings against crime (there are different standards for varying premises types).

The choice of lock for doors is also important, as is the standard of fitting. Badly chosen and/or fitted locks and latches can impair the fire resistance of a door. Very wide mortice locks should be avoided.

Where self-closing doors to a dwelling are used, ideally they should not be self-locking. This relates most commonly to blocks of flats. In a fire situation, a parent may leave the flat to ask for help from a neighbour and if the door were to shut and lock behind them, it could mean access to children in the flat of fire origin wasn’t possible.

In part 136 of this series, LWF will begin to look at means of escape for disabled people. In the meantime, if you have any queries about your own facilities or wish to discuss this blog series, please contact LWF on freephone 0800 410 1130.


Lawrence Webster Forrest is a fire engineering consultancy based in Surrey with over 25 years’ experience, which provides a wide range of consultancy services to professionals involved in the design, development and construction and operation of buildings.

While care has been taken to ensure that information contained in LWF’s publications is true and correct at the time of publication, changes in circumstances after the time of publication may impact on the accuracy of this information.

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