Failing fire doors hits supplier’s confidence

One fabricator has announced that it will stop buying-in third-party fire doors following news that fire doors from five suppliers have been identified as failing to meet the requisite fire performance standard.

“Following the government’s [recent] announcement that five manufacturers’ fire doors failed to meet fire performance standards after an ongoing investigation by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG), Tradesmith is suspending the sale of bought-in fire-rated composite doors until further tests have been carried out and the results published,” Tradesmith’s managing director Mark Hutchinson said. “I expect others who buy fire doors for resale will be doing the same.”

MHCLG began investigating the fire door industry after it was found that a glazed, composite fire door from Grenfell Tower manufactured by Manse Masterdor failed a 30-minute fire resistance test after approximately 15 minutes. Issues were subsequently identified with doors produced by Masterdor (the successor business to Manse Masterdor).

Investigations have continued and doors from three additional manufacturers have failed fire resistance testing when tested on both sides.

MHCLG is writing to all building control bodies highlighting the need to check that existing building regulations guidance on new fire door installations is followed. The guidance sets out the tests which should be performed – including testing doors on both sides – in order to meet building regulations requirements.

The products that have failed government tests to date were glazed and unglazed doors supplied by Manse Masterdor and Masterdor, and glazed composite doors supplied by Specialist Building Products (trading as Permadoor), Solar Windows, and Birtley Group, trading as Bowater by Birtley.

All doors that are known to have failed to meet the necessary standards have been withdrawn from the market and the department has informed local trading standards of its findings. Each manufacturer has co-operated fully with the government’s investigations, which are continuing.

“As an industry we talk a lot about standards and quality, and as a trade fabricator in the south east, Tradesmith is frankly obsessive about quality and standards, so I’m surprised and appalled by the announcement because we rely on fire doors for our lives,” Mark said.

“The investigations are focusing on fire, because of Grenfell, so we can nail what went wrong and put it right. But if this is a broader issue as [secretary for state] Mr Brokenshire says, are we not taking fire seriously, or not taking standards and certification seriously? That’s worrying because you can’t put attitudes and behaviour into compartments – they permeate an organisation. So, is it ‘just’ confined to fire?”

Mark said that we need products to perform as promised.

“If we sell and install an FD30 composite fire door we, our customers and the public desperately need it to be an FD30 that gives them 30 minutes to get out safely in the event of a fire,” he said.