We’re writing an open letter to our customers, suppliers and specifiers voicing our support for Fire Door Safety Week.
The company is supporting the aims and objectives of Fire Door Safety Week, which takes place in the last week of this month.
The initiative has been set up by the British Woodworking Federation, the BWF-CERTIFIRE Scheme and the Fire Door Inspection Scheme (FDIS), and aims to raise awareness of the critical importance of fire doors as well as specific issues such as poor installation and maintenance.
In the past, Wrightstyle has raised issues of fire safety certification in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, where it believed that regulations were not being stringently enforced, or where there was a less than optimal understanding of the performance criteria of using systems where components have not been tested together.
The company has also raised concerns with the UK government, specifically on the issue of fire doors being inspected and passed as fire resistant when, in fact, they offer little protection against the passage of fire, smoke or toxic gases.
“The issue seems to be an incomplete understanding and enforcement of fire specifications contained within the Approved Document B and the usage requirements of certification data,” said Denis Wright, chairman.
“In practice, and we have first-hand experience of this, for example unlatched doors with untested or incompatible fire-resistant glass are being accepted as fire doors within the regulatory definitions despite the fact that they are clearly not within the permissible limitations of their supplied test certification.”
Wrightstyle assumes that fire safety officers are placing emphasis on the door’s performance as having, for example, 60 minutes of integrity while 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, allowing fire, heat or gases to pass through.
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.
Wrightstyle has a range of fire doors in single or double-leaf formats, including a range of unlatched fire doors. It is galling for us, and for other responsible suppliers, to develop advanced door systems and then 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 on the submitted data. The building regulations simply state that test standards such as BS476 Part 22 or the applicable EN specification should be available,” said Denis Wright.
“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? If it has been welded, has it been welded using the correct process?” he said.
Wrightstyle believes that in the wake of the Grenfell Tower disaster, all eyes are now on the government and what building and fire safety regulations will be introduced, and the company has already voiced concern that more stringent regulations on cladding in Scotland were not applicable in the rest of the UK.
“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 for fire safety officers, and other authorised fire consultants, and an urgent need to issue further guidance to determine when a glazed door system can be considered a fire door,” said Denis Wright.
“However, for us, new and improved fire safety regulations are only one side of the coin. What is also urgently needed is a complete overhaul of fire safety training, to ensure that those responsible for fire safety inspection have the tools necessary to forensically inspect for absolute compliance,” he said.