The British Woodworking Federation Group

High-Risk Residential: Assessing Regulation 10

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The fire risks associated with multi-occupied residential buildings remain high on the sector’s agenda, and the latest wave of fire safety reforms can help address key concerns, says Karen Trigg of BWF Fire Door Alliance Member Allegion UK.

In recent years, both high-rise and high-risk building environments have been the subject of much industry focus. Where Grenfell was a catalyst for change, the incremental introduction of new reforms (such as the Fire Safety Act 2021 and Building Safety Act 2023) – alongside major Government funding schemes – have since been key in raising fire safety standards across the board.

But while significant steps have been made in a number of areas, professionals can’t afford to now stand still. Only recently, Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service were forced to evacuate a block of flats deemed to be a fire safety risk, of which tenants cited a lack of communication concerning the building’s fire safety. Evidently, these are not isolated incidents, and there is still work to be done.

In fact, many multi-occupied building environments have been exposed for falling short in fire safety situations. While it’s true that the complexity and scale of high-risk settings present unique fire safety challenges, responsible parties must endeavour to address them, focusing on all components of fire protection in the process. And where fire door safety is concerned, the latest evolution of the legislative landscape might prove to be the answer.

Introducing Regulation 10

On the 23rd of January 2023, The Fire Safety (England) Regulations 2022, made it a legal requirement under regulation 10 for responsible persons of all multi-occupied residential buildings in England with storeys over 11 metres in height to:

  • Undertake quarterly checks of all fire doors (including self-closing devices) in the common parts; and
  • Undertake – on a best endeavour basis – annual checks of all flat entrance doors (including self-closing devices) that lead onto a building’s common parts.

In addition, the updated regulations state responsible persons must provide residents with relevant fire safety instructions and detailed information relating to the importance of operational fire doors in regard to the building’s fire safety systems.

These essential updates derive from the recommendations made in the Grenfell Tower Inquiry (Phase 1 report) and, among others detailed under The Fire Safety (England) Regulations 2022, are designed to improve fire safety standards in high-rise, high-risk residential buildings. Under UK legislation, all revisions must now be followed closely, with responsible persons expected to alter their approach to fire door safety in response to the framework.

Educating and Evaluating

For decision makers overseeing fire door safety in high-risk residential buildings, in relation to Regulation 10, there are perhaps two key takeaways:

  • The rate and proficiency of risk assessments on fire doors and their hardware is changing; and
  • There is greater accountability to provide residents with improved communication and education on fire door safety.

As cited in the BWF Fire Door Alliance report ‘Living up to the Standard on Fire Doors’, the Building Safety Bill has seemingly shaped a cultural shift towards fire door safety, with more than half of respondents (out of 1000 responsible persons surveyed) now seeking more proof of fire door performance and product traceability when specifying or purchasing fire doors. Furthermore, 59% of people are now readily seeking advice on fire doors directly from fire door manufacturers when required.

Today, there is a greater impetus on providing detailed checks on fire doors and their hardware as fundamental components of passive fire protection. The newly proposed quarterly checks of fire doors – as well as the annual checks on flat entrance doors and self-closing devices – will ensure the standards of inspected fire doors rise, with responsible persons pushed to systematically inspect the key elements of all doorsets moving forward, including the certification, gaps, seals, hinges and closing elements.

Fire doors can be classified for their fire resistance for periods from 15 minutes to 4 hours being awarded classifications such as FD 30 and E 30. They can also be classified for smoke control and given a further classification of S or Sa, e.g., FD 30 S and E 30 Sa. All fire doors, including flat entrance doors and doors between a house and an integral garage, should be fitted with a door closer, except fire doors fitted to cupboards or service ducts and fire doors within flats and houses. A door closer must also be able to close the fire door when it is opened to any angle.

Controlled fire door closers, i.e., closers that exert a checking control during the action of closing the door, which fall within the scope of BS EN 1154 must be conformity marked, e.g., CE or UKCA, and must be capable of achieving, as a minimum, a power size of 3. However, when a closer with this power size is fitted to an 838 mm (2’9”) entrance door, giving the minimum required clear opening width of 775 mm, the opening force necessary to overcome the action of the closer can be almost twice as much as the 30N recommended in BS 8300. To reduce the opening force the closer should have a high efficiency, i.e., the ratio of the closing force to the opening force, and it should be adjustable to a lower power size, i.e., 1 or 2, but the door should still close fully into its frame when opened to any angle. After all, a fire door can only do its job to contain fire and smoke when it is closed.

Upon inspection, if a fire door isn’t operating as intended, or there is any ambiguity in regard to hardware classifications and reliability, it’s imperative to seek out professional advice and ensure maintenance is carried out both quickly and professionally. For those who remain unclear on fire door safety and risk assessments, online assistance – in the form of guides or specialists – can further support and educate on key areas of fire safety practice, such as risk assessments, fire door checks and compliance.

In multi-occupied building environments, residents are also encouraged to raise concerns if fire doors are not operating as they should. On the other hand, as Regulation 10 points out, there is now a greater responsibility for building owners to provide clear information on the building’s fire safety. This should comprise of clear instructions on how to report a fire or fire safety related issue, as well as emergency evacuation instructions, which should highlight routes of escape with concise signage and fully compliant, operational fire doors. In addition, to combat poor fire safety practice (such as propped open stairway or flat entrance doors), it’s vital to provide up-to-date, educational information on the importance of fire doors and their role in the building’s system.

With Regulation 10, there’s once more a clearer strategy for fire safety in multi-occupied residential buildings. The latest in reforms will continue to transform the approach to fire risk assessments and the competency to which they’re completed. What’s more, with a well-rounded educational approach, all parties, including residents, can further understand the intricacies of fire door safety and how their own actions may alter the effectiveness of a building’s fire protection. In doing so, we may well be moving towards a brighter, safer future for high-risk environments.

The full Fire Safety (England) Regulations 2022 document can be viewed here:

Find out more about BWF Fire Door Alliance Member Allegion UK HERE

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