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Calls for use of complete fire doorsets post Grenfell

5 December 2017

The Door & Hardware Federation (DHF) is calling for a change in Building Regulations, and for the UK government to enforce the use of complete doorsets in fire compartmentation.

The body, which represents the interests of locks and building hardware, metal doorsets, timber doorsets and industrial doors, has said that following the Grenfell Tower tragedy, changes need to be made due to the risks of fires spreading in multi-occupancy buildings such as tower blocks and office buildings.

Fire compartmentation is the term used for the sub-division of a building into manageable areas of risk, to prevent the spread of fire and smoke, and provide adequate means of escape.

DHF’s recommendations come in the wake of a number of recent tragedies involving fire, particularly the Grenfell disaster which resulted in the loss of 71 lives.

DHF’s chief executive, Bob Perry, explains: “Fire doors are an integral part of the fire strategy for any building, designed to protect the occupants by maintaining compartmentation, essential to those who require speedy evacuation in the event of a fire.

“Properly installed and maintained, a fire door will hold back fire and smoke from 30 minutes to more than four hours.

“Fire doors can be subject to much wear and tear during their lifetime. For this reason, it is essential that they are properly and regularly inspected and maintained by qualified professionals, with any necessary repairs carried out immediately.”

Comments

Whilst there is no doubt that a "doorset" does have it's advantages, I feel compelled to comment that a traditional door assembly; (where a door frame, linings, stops, seals, as well as the door itself and the necessary ironmongery), is correctly and appropriately specified and installed, would also afford the required fire protection to meet current Building Regulations / British Standards etc., and therefore, that the DHF's comments are rather biased - bordering on scaremongering, and I get the distinct impression that they are unjustifiably using the Grenfell tragedy as a means to promote their own Industry (doorsets etc.) above traditional fire doors. After all (and I am open to be corrected on this one), I don't ever recall it ever being reported that the cause of the fire and its' rapid spread at Grenfell Tower was due to the failure of fire doors?

Duncan Stewart, 5 December 2017

The issue here is how to apply the requirements in retrofit.

The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 puts the local Fire Brigade as the enforcing authority, and although there was Local Government guidance issued in 2011, it has never been made entirely clear whether it is necessary to replace every door in every purpose-built, multi-occupancy building with door sets that meet current Building Regulations.

At the moment, failure of the compartmentation at Grenfell House has not been shown to have been a contributory factor - that may change and therefore the DHF's comments might then be appropriate.

Also it should be remembered that the fire compartmentation was shown to have successfully contained the fire at Shepherd's Court (Shepherd's Bush) and that was one of the reasons why, along with the LFB response and the stay put policy, there was no loss of life.

DHF's comments would be better directed to the Grenfell enquiry team, for due consideration, rather than making a public demand and causing unnecessary anguish to those who are wanting fact-based answers.

Ian Watts MCIOB, 5 December 2017

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