News

75% of GRP fire door manufacturers fail tests

18 February 2019 | By Neil Gerrard

Three quarters of manufacturers who make glass reinforced plastic (GRP) composite fire doors have failed government-commissioned furnace tests.

The studies examined if the doors could withstand fire for 30 minutes, new documents published by the Ministry for Housing Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) show.

Publishing the data to inform building owners’ risk assessments, MHCLG warned that there was a “performance issue” with GRP composite 30-minute fire doors “across the market”, although it noted that the tests represented only a sample of the market and were only relevant for the specific model of door set tested from the manufacturers.

The doors failed for a range of reasons including performance at the glazing, letter box and door frame.

MHCLG added that there was “some evidence of over-reliance on written assessments being used in lieu of primary tests for significant changes in hardware and ironmongery, and for the reverse side of the door”.

The tests, carried out between February and August 2018, came after the Metropolitan Police investigated the Grenfell Tower fire and found that a glazed GRP composite front fire door manufactured by Manse Masterdor, which has since ceased trading, failed after just 15 minutes despite the manufacturer’s claim that it would provide 30 minutes of fire resistance.

All tests were undertaken to BS-476:22 in a UKAS-accredited test house on complete sets or doors facing into and away from the furnace. The exception was Manse Masterdor doors, which are no longer manufactured, so were removed from existing buildings to allow testing.

Doors 'cannot be relied on'

In total, 20 different Manse Masterdor doors were furnace tested. The expert panel concluded there was an issue with the doors which meant they could not be relied upon to meet the required standard.

A wider test of other GRP composite doors involving 22 individual fire doors from different manufacturers was also carried out, which led the expert planel to conclude that there was an issue with doors “across the market”. Two tests failed in under 15 minutes.

Trading Standards has been notified of all companies whose fire doors failed the furnace test and local Trading Standards are now working with the companies concerned. All companies have been asked to write to their customers informing them of the failure and asking them to conduct a new building safety risk assessment.

The Association of Composite Door Manufacturers (ACDM) has agreed with MHCLG that all GRP composite fire doors sold from their members will be removed from the market until they can demonstrate they meet the required standard.

The association has also committed to acting regarding doors in situ and is producing a plan of action for repair and replacement of doors found not to meet the standard.

To review the results of the tests, along with comments from individual manufacturers, click here.

Comments

Self certification is a dangerous standard across the whole industry.

Roy Edmunds, 18 February 2019

To be totally honest, until I read this Report, I never even knew that G.R.P. doors could or in fact are being used for Fire Doors! (External doors, sure, but not Fire Doors). Personally (or Professionally), I'd certainly be very reluctant to specify G.R.P. - (there's a perfectly good reason why timber doors are tried and tested and have been trusted / used for decades). I'd go far even to suggest that this is yet again an attempt to utilise a cheaper Product (a.k.a. "Value Engineering").

An to permit "Self-Certification" suggests that there is very little credible evidence to suggest that G.R.P. is an acceptable alternative if it was to go up "toe-to-toe" with timber or other tried-and tested materials.

If Products driven by "doing things on the cheap" are allowed to creep into the Construction Industry un-checked / un-challenged, (and I'm not talking about being as prudent / cost effective as possible, whilst conform to all relevant Standards / Regulations), then this would be a very slippery slope indeed. Whatever next - perhaps G.R.P. structural beams?!?

Anyway, as always, just my own personal thoughts / opinions! :)

Duncan Stewart. VSM | MCIAT

Duncan Stewart, 18 February 2019

This seems a big capitulation by ACDM - there are 3rd party accredited GRP doors on the market, which would surely be fit for purpose ?
Why has one rotten apple destroyed the barrel?

Michael Floyd, 18 February 2019

Who is specifying GRP doors as fire doors? Okay as a house front or back (external) door but not for use in blocks of flats.

Waggle, 19 February 2019

22 years in building standards never would anticipated that clients / developers would use GRP as a internal fire door . The only GRP composite doors used in my experience have been front doors

Stephen Dunn, 20 February 2019

Just to be clear as I have seen a couple of comments related to this, the test was prompted by the Met Police's investigation into Grenfell which found doors used as front doors to flats not meeting the standard. This is from the guidance I have linked to at the bottom of the story:

"The Metropolitan Police’s investigation into the Grenfell Tower fire involved a thorough examination of the tower, including front doors to flats. The Metropolitan Police informed the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) of a failed furnace test for a GRP composite glazed front fire door from Grenfell Tower. The test revealed that the door was
installed as providing 30 minutes of fire resistance but failed the test after 15 minutes."

Neil Gerrard, 20 February 2019

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