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Protection Fire doors

Fire door safety and the importance of third-party certification Hannah Mansell on the MHCLG fire door investigation, where the fire door industry is now and whether the standards of fire door safety have improved since the Grenfell tragedy.


n TRADA’s 2017 Industry Yearbook I explored the role of the ‘Responsible Person’, who has the legal responsibility for fire safety in a building. At that time, independent research carried out for Fire Door Safety Week highlighted that almost half of property owners (46.5%) 1 said that they either did not know what their legal obligations were, or admitted they were unclear. Two years on, the unspeakable loss of the Grenfell Tower fire tragedy has pushed building fire safety to the top of the agenda. Unfortunately, the lack of awareness and proactiveness of the Responsible Person is just one of the many issues.

Disasters such as Grenfell happen because multiple things have gone wrong, multiple layers of protections have been breached and multiple mistakes have been made. Focusing on fire doors, the industry must unite and put best practice, certification, traceability and independent scrutiny at the top of its agenda.

Fire door performance If you that have supported the Fire Door Safety Week campaign since its inception seven years ago, you will know that the British Woodworking Federation (BWF) has long called for improvements to fire door safety in social housing2 and the mandatory requirement for third-party certificated fire doors. I was horrified, but sadly not surprised, when in January 2018 the Met Police recovered a composite foam-filled fire door from Grenfell Tower that only achieved 15 minutes fire resistance when furnace tested.3 Fire doors are classified in terms of their ability to resist fire (in minutes) and cold smoke. All fire doors placed on the market in the UK must have test evidence to validate performance claims. But as many who work in the fire door industry know, relying on a snapshot test report that is years out of date can be risky because it’s just a one-off pass; it doesn’t demonstrate repeatability and there’s little or no traceability linking the product supplied to the customer back to the original specification that was tested. Fire doors that are manufactured in isolation without independent scrutiny are unlikely to be subject to a retest programme when the design is changed, or there is a change in the supply chain for raw materials and/or components. Unfortunately this means that there are potentially thousands of fire doors fitted across the UK that will not perform as they claim in the event of an actual fire. For a life-saving product, this is disgraceful and is why independent third-party certification of life safety products is the minimum standard that should be accepted.

Third-party certification of fire doors

BWF test of timber fire doors for Fire Safety Week at BM TRADA’s test facility at High Wycombe. Photo: BWF

Products that are manufactured under independent thirdparty certification must have robust control systems in place to ensure they are made to a consistent specification, have traceability and are supplied with essential product information to allow others in the chain of responsibility to ensure the product remains fit for purpose throughout its service life. >> Timber 2019 Industry Yearbook

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Profile for BM TRADA

Timber 2019 Industry Yearbook  

The annual publication of the Timber Research and Development Association (TRADA) includes topical and technical features on all aspects of...

Timber 2019 Industry Yearbook  

The annual publication of the Timber Research and Development Association (TRADA) includes topical and technical features on all aspects of...

Profile for trada