As specialists in our field, Fire Door Experts are constantly pushing for a raising of standards to provide better passive fire protection with regards to fire door installation and maintenance.
It still amazes us that there is still no real regulation around fire door installation!
Something that recently piqued the interest of Si West, Fire Door Experts Managing Director, was a technical document published by Richard Smith at NHBC. One section in particular highlighted the common practice fire doors being installed and offered for inspection at the pre-plaster stage of building works.
Why should that create such interest?
Fire doors need to be installed with exacting 2-4mm tolerances; as timber doors are made from natural species, any additional moisture added to the building’s atmosphere will see these natural material products change shape and size.
Add to this the fact that fire doors are widely installed by non-3rd party accredited installers in new builds, and the accuracy of installation reduces further.
Fire door leaf manufacturers are voicing concerns about their doors being installed in such conditions and whether the product warranty remains valid as stored and installed outside the recommended parameters, but more importantly, whether their passive fire protection properties remain!
These thoughts, and others gathered from reading various blogs and forums, triggered a letter from Si to Richard. Our common sense solution put forward..?
Why not just make it mandatory that ALL fire doors in ALL buildings MUST be installed and signed off by 3rd party accredited fire door installers?
Whether Si’s letter played a part or not, we can’t be sure, but it was very pleasing to read NHBC announce a U-turn on this subject shortly after the letter was sent.
Amended guidance was published in a new technical update which now offers three options for installers and contractors to help maintain the protection offered by fire door-sets and testing for integrity:
Fire door frames installed at pre-plaster stage is still a valid option
Fire door linings installed at pre-plaster stage to allow the fitting of the frame at a later stage.
Fire door frames installed after pre-plaster with architraves not fitted until satisfactory inspection to ensure the linear gap is correctly fire stopped.
The NHBC is also conducting trials to assess the viability of 3rd-party accredited installers, which is a move that has been welcomed by fire door manufacturers who have cited the news as “definitely a win for safety”.
Consultation with all parts of the industry is vital is essential to ensure that installation quality and product safety is further improved. We’d like to think we’ve played a small part in this step forward, and will continue to lobby for all fire door installations and maintenance to be carried out by 3rd-party accredited, and therefore suitably trained and qualified, contractors.
Click below to read Si’s full letter.