There has been a concern over fire doors and fire safety in general in the UK since the Grenfell Tower fire in 2018. In the wake of the disaster the Government set about a rigorous set of testing criteria across similar buildings in the UK, as well as taking a look at the fire safety industry in full. It has recently released a report stating that there are no ‘performance concerns’ with fire doors made of timber after a test was carried out on fire door products from 25 manufacturers in the country.
The tests were a real necessity after police informed the government that the fire doors installed at Grenfell Tower failed rigorous testing in a short 15-minute period. This is half the amount of time that is set as the required standard for fire doors in the UK, and pointed to a worrying scenario that other residential and commercial complexes across the country could face a similar disaster if changes were not made.
Thorough testing of the fire door industry has led to some worrying conclusions since, with 9 of 12 popular models of ‘composite’ plastic fire doors failing the tests put in place by the government. In practice this means that there are tens of thousands of fire doors in the country that are not fit for purpose and require immediate replacement. However, there has been a much more encouraging set of results from the testing of timber fire doors.
What this means is that there are no concerns at all about the performance of fire doors. This is especially the case when timber fire doors are purchased directly from a fire door manufacturer and built to specification.
James Brokenshire, Housing Secretary, told parliament:
“It is important to be clear that, although the results of our testing provide assurances for residents who have concerns about their fire doors, it is for building owners to assure themselves that the fire doors they install are fit for purpose and have the required documentation and certification.”
The fire door safety tests was full and extensive, and were carried out on many varieties of hardware, on both un-glazed and glazed doors, as well as testing taking place on both sides. One timber fire door performed so well that it actually withstood fire and smoke for 59 minutes, while opening away from the fire.
In the wake of Grenfell it is certainly time for fire safety officials the country over to wake up and ensure that fire safety is of paramount concern at all times. It is also clear that the government must do all within its power to enforce the use of fire doors that are up to standard, with heavy penalties for those persons responsible for buildings where substandard fire doors are installed, alongside a more rigorous way of testing fire safety policies, training and induction that helps to seep fire safety knowledge into the minds of everyone who uses a building on a daily basis, or even visits.