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Fire Protection Association (2012): 'Arson has become the single most frequent cause of fire in buildings of all kinds, resulting in loss of life and injuries, enormous financial losses, business interruption, damage to the environment and loss of heritage buildings. Each year more than 60 people die and 2000 are injured in fires that are deliberately lit, while the annual cost of arson in England and Wales is estimated at £1.3 billion.

It is important for any fire safety manager or 'responsible person' to gain an awareness of the problem of arson and methods for minimising the threat.'

The Home Office: 'The diverse motives of arsonists, vandals and criminals mean that no home or business is immune from an attack.'

Anti-arson | Arson proof | Fire proof | Anti-burglary | Anti mail theft | Anti-theft | Anti-vandalism | Flood proof | Anti-terrorist | Saves energy | Cuts CO2 emissions

External doors security and fire safety


Final exits doors security and fire resistance

Under the Building Regulations Part B and the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (RRO) doors used on escape routes must be fire resisting (protected). Clearly, this must include the door at the final point of exit (called a final exit) since fire anywhere on escape route would effectively cut off the escape route. The fire resistance requirement for final exits is in addition to the requirement for security of the final exit against intrusion and burglary. Unfortunately the fire resistance requirement for final exits is often misunderstood. This puts lives and property at risk.

Fire resisting door means arson proof or fire proof door depending on the risk of fire and often final exits are normal entry/exit doors.

Entrance/exit doors of flats in blocks of flats must be fire doors. This is essential for the so called 'compartmentation of flats' - limiting the spread of fire and smoke in case of a fire that may originate in the flat.

Entrance/exit doors on escape route of the premises, which are at risk of fire from arson that may originate on the publicly accessible side of the door and the resulting internal spread of fire and smoke, must be arson proof. They do not need to be fire proof since they do not need to limit the spread of fire and smoke outdoors in case of a fire that may originate in the premises.

Impact of the letter plate

The letter plate is a traditional opening element of a door furniture. It can be opened by anyone from the publicly accessible side of the door and may stay open for whatever reason, like malicious or when jammed by the mail items or a rolled up newspaper. For allowing 24 hours random mail deliveries the building managers or residents cannot control the letter plate flap to be closed at all times similar to the fire doors.

And yet, the letter plate is often fitted to these entrance/exit doors where by law they must be fire resisting. This is illegal and puts lives and property at risk. Entrance/exit doors vital specifications of security, fire resistance and environmental will be undermined by incorporating a letter plate.

The problem would not end if the letter plate is 'fire rated'. This is because the currently certified 'fire rated' letter plates are tested in assembly with fire rated doors with the flap (usually two flaps) specifically closed. Otherwise the 'fire rated' letter plate and the fire door will instantly fail the fire resistance test. Therefore, such test results do not reflect the real situation on site where the flap can be opened for whatever reason, like by a rolled up and stuck newspaper, or by anyone, anytime.

The current system of testing is notoriously imperfect. The gap between the fire door and the frame over 2 to 4mm wide would not be accepted, but they do not see a problem with the large aperture of the letter plate.

Any fire safety professional will tell that most fire deaths are not caused by burns, but by smoke inhalation. Cold smoke through the open letter plate would be the primary killer at the early stages of fire before the intumescent lining, which should be activated by the high temperature, can go into action. When the smoke becomes hot the expansion of the intumescent lining will be obstructed by the items, which can be stuck inside the letter plate. This will undermine the 'fire rated' letter plate protection against the hot smoke too.

These are the reasons why the 'fire rated' letter plate and the fire door where it is fitted can fail in case of fire and put lives at risk. Hundreds of thousands of people living in high-rise flats and maisonettes are in potential danger, according to a new report.

Why we are so tolerant of 'fire rated' letter plates that put lives at risk and destroy properties when this can be easily avoided?

Prohibiting the use of the letter plates on fire doors would solve the problem but at the expense of compromising the traditional mail deliveries and for that reason cannot be advised. The problem can be addressed by fitting additional protection means behind the letter plate, which would ensure that the fire door is not compromised against fire and smoke penetration even when the letter plate flap is in open position.


For owners/managers of the premises, which are covered by the mandatory legislation, protecting the letterplate for preventing arson is a legal requirement. This is covered for Fire Risk Assessment purposes by BAFE Scheme: SP205 Version 2: December 2012 and a number of Guidance documents, including ASFP Guide to Inspecting Passive Fire Protection for Fire Risk Assessors (paragraph 3.3) and in the Guidance document on fire safety for blocks of flats (paragraph 43.2).

In case of an accident owners/managers are risking hefty fines or even imprisonment. The insurance company can refuse the payout if it turns out that the mandatory legislation requirement was not met.

If you are a 'responsible person' and do not want to end up with a court judgement against you, take a notice that entrance/exit doors with the unprotected or under-protected letter plate would often fall short of the demands for fire safety imposed by the currently mandatory legislation, in particular the RRO and Building Regulations 2013 Part B

Fitting IdealGuard™ secure by design multifunctional eco letter/mail box will ensure the letter plate superb security against all nomenclature of potential threats without disruption to mail deliveries.

The product is superior to any other letter box and ideal for the landlords and housing providers, owners/managers and occupants of commercial and domestic properties. It appeals to insurers and offers real peace of mind to everyone concerned.

Click to view how fitting IdealGuard™ secure by design multifunctional eco letter/mail box will ensure that be it cold or hot smoke it will be contained and not penetrate the property. 

Making the property more secure and the insurance claims less likely IdealGuard™ products may reduce insurance losses for the insurance companies, the property owners and occupants.