How many more 'death-trap doors' are out there?
Published by Liz Male for Fire Door Inspection Scheme in Housing and also in Environment, Health, Local Government
Fire Door Safety Week is next week
Fire door industry organisations call for proactive action by building owners
A potential tragedy has been averted by a campaign by local residents and their local MP, and the responsible approach to fire safety by Stoke-on-Trent City Council this summer, according to fire door industry experts at the British Woodworking Federation (BWF), BWF-CERTIFIRE Scheme and Fire Door Inspection Scheme (FDIS).
After an investigation which started earlier this year, Stoke Council has just published an independent report on faulty fire doors at 11 apartment blocks in the city. It lists problems with up to 66 of the doors inspected, all of which had been installed within the past 18 months.
John Fletcher, manager of the BWF-CERTIFIRE Fire Door and Doorset Scheme, said:
“Of course it is very easy to focus on the negatives here - inadequate sealing, alarming gaps and problems with usage of intumescent materials to name a few. Sadly we don’t think this is an isolated case. Despite clear installation guidance laid down in BS8214, and third-party certification readily available, we see repeated examples where poor specification and weak process management is leading to unacceptable installations that put lives and properties at risk.
“But there is a positive message too. Stoke-on-Trent City Council has done the right thing now in recognising the problem, scoping it through the report and getting the problems rectified. The council should be applauded for this; many others hide their heads in the sand.
“All local authorities, all housing providers, all building owners should be doing a check on their fire doors today. This is a life and death issue.
“Fire doors are not like other doors, they are an engineered fire safety device. They must be third-party certificated with all the right components. They must be installed by the right people and regularly checked and maintained. In the case in Stoke we see the cost of getting it wrong at the start, but at Lakanal House we saw the much more terrifying cost of not making it right.”
The Fire Door Inspection Scheme has written to Tristram Hunt MP, the local Stoke MP who ordered the investigation following concerns about the “death-trap doors” raised by local residents.
Neil Ashdown, FDIS manager, said:
“It is scandalous that life-saving devices such as fire doors continue to be incorrectly installed and specified in this day and age. Fire safety professionals see many poorly installed and maintained fire doors and always report these to the building manager, although sometimes the response is less than reassuring. Too often we hear the comment ‘Don’t tell us about our fire door problems, or we’ll have to do something about them’.
“But the skills and knowledge in fire doors are not difficult to obtain. This is what is provided through the FDIS Diploma in fire doors, and through our scheme – the first in Europe – to create a register of independently assessed and certificated fire door inspectors who can work alongside local authorities, estates and facilities managers, landlords and building owners to protect lives and property.”
Iain McIlwee, chief executive of the BWF, added that the Stoke case gave added poignancy to the importance of Fire Door Safety Week which runs from 16-21 September.
“We understand just how difficult managing the plethora of information that building owners have to cope with regarding fire safety. That is why we have launched Fire Door Safety Week, to get the message out and help the building industry and property owners to get it right with specification, supply, installation, operation, inspection and maintenance of fire doors.”