Next month (23rd to 29th September) is Fire Door Safety Week, and we’ve already pledged our support.
The initiative aims to raise awareness of the critical importance of fire doors. That includes specific issues such as poor installation and maintenance.
Those are issues about which we also have concerns.
For example, we’ve raised issues of fire safety certification in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. W saw that regulations were not being stringently enforced.
We’ve also been vocal in raising understanding of the need to use systems where components have been tested together.
Specifically on fire doors, we’ve raised concerns with the UK government.
We’ve seen many examples of fire doors being poorly installed, and therefore offering little protection.
The issue seems to be an incomplete understanding and enforcement of fire specifications contained within the Approved Document B.
For example, unlatched doors with untested or incompatible fire-resistant glass are being accepted as fire doors within the regulatory definitions.
This is despite the fact that they are clearly not within the permissible limitations of their supplied test certification.
We assume that fire safety officers are placing emphasis on the door’s performance as having, for example, 60 minutes of integrity.
That emphasis means that they’re paying insufficient attention to the fact that the door types, without an adequate safety latch mechanism, or compatible glass will certainly fail well within that period.
In other words, the test certificate may certify the doors as being safe. However, without an integrated latch, the fire safety element may be entirely compromised.
We supply a range of fire doors in single or double-leaf formats, including a range of unlatched fire doors.
So it’s galling for us, and for other responsible suppliers, to see other systems installed that we know are not fit for purpose.
There seems to be insufficient guidance to fire or building control officers or consultants as to what needs to be specifically checked.
The building regulations simply state that test standards such as BS476 Part 22 or the applicable EN specification should be available.
At no point do the regulations require further examination of that test certificate to determine whether or not the installed assembly matches the description in the certification.
For example, if the assembly is constructed from multiple components, have they been tested together?
Or, if it’s has been welded, has it been welded using the correct process.
British Standards and Building Regulations are there to protect public safety, not least in the event of a catastrophic fire.
With regret, when it comes to unlatched fire doors, there requires to be an assessment of current guidelines.
Also, an urgent need to issue further guidance to determine when a glazed door system can be considered a fire door.
It adds up to an urgent need to overhaul fire safety training.
This would ensure that those responsible for fire safety inspection have the tools necessary to forensically inspect for absolute compliance.
Fire Door Safety Week deserves everyone’s support.