The British Woodworking Federation (BWF) do a lot of work on the quality and installation of fire doors. They run the annual Fire Door Safety week and have launched a campaign for the overhaul of parts of the regulations that govern passive fire protection installations.
Fire doors are a central aspect of effective passive fire protection systems. Without properly made and installed fire doors the compartmentalisation of buildings that passive fire protection systems rely on cannot work properly. The BWF not only campaign for the proper installation of quality fire doors but also campaign around their maintenance and associated issues to do with fire protection and prevention.
BWF’s are campaigning for two changes to Approved Document B which is the section of the UK building regulations which deals with passive fire protection. The two changes they want are around fire doors and regulation 38 which covers the appointment of a ‘responsible person’.
Certification for Fire Doors
As the BWF point out Approved document B goes into a lot of depth on which testing standards various passive fire protections ought to comply with but they don’t say much about certification. This leaves people in the position of having to try and work out which testing standards have been used on a particular passive fire protection product and whether that product passed the test. In many cases they will have to take the manufacturer’s word for it that the particular passive fire protection product they are buying has been appropriately tested.
The BWF would like to see this simplified with an independent third-party body doing the testing of fire doors and other passive fire protection products and then issuing certification. This would make it much easier for people to select the correct product and would also help to stop substandard products getting onto the market.
Regulation 38 of the building regulations requires that when a building is completed a pack containing all of the information on fire protection is handed over to the ‘responsible person’. This would include information on how the passive fire protection system in the building has been designed and installed. It would cover also cover how the building has been compartmentalised which is vital information if any refurbishment work needs to be done at a later date. At the moment whether or not this information is passed to a responsible person is not really policed.
The BWF are calling for building control consent to be withheld on new builds if the handover of information relating to fire protection does not happen to a satisfactory level. This would include handing over detailed information on fire doors and other passive fire protection products so that the building mangers know how to maintain them correctly.
The suggestions that the BWF are making are sensible. As we have said before there are a number of different certification standards being used for rating passive fire protection products. With the complexity of the building regulations it is hard for a lay person to know which products to use and where they should be installed. As a passive fire protection specialist we are experts in interpreting the regulations and selecting products but it is important that this process is transparent. Architects, construction contractors and the end clients should be able to understand what is being done, and why, if they are to be able to maintain an effective passive fire protection system once the building goes into use.