Everyday Usability 8 – Fire door

Everyday Usability 8 – Fire door

The department which I work for moved in another building. The building consists of three interconnected houses (or three single houses if you ignore the connecting way). Each house is similar in design. The design integrates an easy fire escape route, but does not integrate the fire safety concept well.

One side of a house consists of big open offices and the other side of meeting rooms and smaller offices for higher management. I’m working in one of the big offices. It is the room right to the kitchen in the sketch below. The office can be accessed through two doors, both of them are fire doors. Each level has two kitchens and two restrooms that are located in the opposite corner of a house. The nearest kitchen for my office is the one marked in yellow in the sketch below. The nearest printers are on the other side (left) of the kitchen. People working in my office need to go through the fire door and pass by the kitchen to access the nearest printers. So the nearest kitchen and printers for people in my office are located behind the fire door. Following, the fire door towards the kitchen is used many times each day. According to safety standards the fire door is self-closing. Whenever it closes it results in a specific noise. I can only imagine that people sitting in the vicinity of the door feel disturbed by that noise and leave the fire door open. More exactly, I have hardly seen the door closed. Leaving a fire door open is of course contra productive to the fire door’s purpose.

Room layout, one fire door between kitchen and office.
Room layout

Positively, the escape route leads through the staircase in front of the kitchen which is a common way to enter or exit the building. Integrating an escape route in a common way in the building layout is a preferred design. People are already familiar with such a way and can easier orientate themselves in an emergency situation, compared to an escape route that is not typically used.

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