Close off fire door performance
With the memories of Grenfell still stirring, and the timely Fire Door Safety Week in September, Hodgson Sealant’s Craig Wear looks at the current state of the fire door market in the UK and suggests a collaborative working approach for the long term.
The Grenfell Tower is one of the biggest UK disasters in living memory. The final death toll now stands at 72 people and questions have been asked in several government departments, trade bodies and within all companies involved in the fire door sector about how this devastating incident occurred.
The minimum standard FD30 certified fire doors – like their name suggest – are able to withstand a fire for the minimum of 30 minutes in a test environment, and which should replicate real life conditions. Police investigations found that the fire doors installed at Grenfell lasted just 15 minutes, well short of the required standard.
Given the magnitude of the event and the damning information from the police, the Building Research Establishment was tasked with testing a number of standard fire doors, including those installed at Grenfell, with four composite doors failing within the required 30-minute time. Notably, those installed at the tower block failed in as little as 19 minutes. Subsequently, the companies involved ceased production and supply of these doors with immediate effect.
The market for composite fire doors is now in a quandary, and how much trust can developers place in the market given the scenario? Existing suppliers with products that have passed, possibly those that also provided doors to the Building Research Establishment, will have confidence, but will that pass out down the supply chain?
Fire Door Safety Week (September 24-30) was awarded Campaign of the Year at The Safety and Health Excellence Awards for its success in highlighting the importance of fire door safety maintenance and five simple inspection checks that anyone can do to initiate positive change and improve a building’s fire safety.
There’s a huge amount of content on the website – www.firedoorsafetyweek.co.uk – including a video on good fire door specification and installation, along with a free Best Practice Guide to Fire Doors from the Fire Door Alliance. These resources are both impressive and reassuring for all those involved in the supply chain from component manufacturing such as Hodgson Sealants, to homeowners and tenants whose entrance doors are specified as fire doors through Building Regulations.
The whole sector is going through a careful process of testing and re-testing, product development and education including component suppliers. We already work with some of the leading timber fire door manufacturers with our range of fire-resistant glazing tapes, which are fully tested and certified in the sector.
Our Certifire certificate of approval relates to the fire resistance of our various Firestrip (glazing tape) glazing methods when used in timber screens and door leaves, for a period of 30 or 60 minutes’ fire resistance, as defined in BS 476: Part 22: 1987 subject to conditions.
Ultimately, all fire doors must carry proof of performance, which is obtained by subjecting solid and glazed doors to BS 476: Part 22: 1987 or BS EN 1634-1 2000.
Prior to Grenfell, much work had already been done in the timber sector by the British Woodworking Federation (BWF) through its BWF-Certifire Scheme, and is widely regarded as the leading trade body with respect to fire door safety. Constant testing and assessment of fire doors and doorsets is necessary to ensure that products will perform to the stated fire rating under the scheme, while all participating members are rigorously assessed and audited, providing specifiers with the added security and confidence in the products being selected.
Everyone associated in the fire door sector needs to sit up and take note as to what happened at Grenfell, as we cannot afford another similar and devastating scenario. Let us all work together, and as the UK’s largest independent sealant and glazing tape manufacturer, we’re happy to offer our expertise and research and development facility for the betterment of the sector as a whole.