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Fire doors play a vital role as part of a building’s passive fire protection system. They help subdivide a building into compartments, slowing down the spread of fire and smoke, and allowing occupants to either escape the building by keeping escape routes clear of smoke and fire, or wait for rescue within a protected area.
When specifying fire doors for a new property, or for replacement in an existing building, it is your responsibility to ensure that the door will perform as required in the event of a fire. But did you know that not all fire doors are made equal?
Manufacturers of fire doors can often make claims that their products are tested and achieve a certain performance level. But did the products pass that test? And if so, then how do they prove it?
The reality is that manufacturers can self-declare, simply stating that the door complies with regulations. This is frightening, and it can be very dangerous to rely just on this.
Where a manufacturer makes their own claim of conformity by stating that the door, doorset or door component ‘complies with’ or is ‘designed to’ or ‘tested to’ a certain standard, the claims are no guarantee that their products will meet the right standards, or that they will continue to do so. But unfortunately, there are a number of fire door manufacturers and component manufacturers who make such claims.
So how can you guarantee that a fire door has been correctly manufactured exactly to specification when you are purchasing your fire doors?
This is where third-party certification comes into play, something that the BWF has been advocating for, and actively promoting since the formation of the BWF Fire Door Alliance (formerly known as the BWF Certifire Scheme) in 1997.
Third-party certification is a process of testing and auditing fire door products, by a fire testing organisation, and systems and processes of door manufacturers and their licensed processors and component manufacturers by independent third-party certifying bodies. It offers multiple layers of protection that ensure that a fire door, if correctly installed and maintained, will perform properly in an emergency, and the result is a pleasingly long list of protections.
A third-party certificated fire door will give you the following reassurances:
In short, third-party certificated fire doors provide ease of mind to buyers and show that you have been responsible in ensuring the safety of your building and its occupants.
By specifying a third-party certificated fire door assembly/doorset, you’ll have confidence in knowing that the manufacturer has been independently audited to ensure that the management and manufacturing processes, and supporting systems, are in place to ensure consistency with the fire door/fire doorset that was initially tested. In addition, you will be sure that the product you purchase is subjected to regular scrutiny, with periodic testing taking place on standard products to ensure that the test wasn’t just a once-only event.
As an industry we should always ensure that fire doors are third-party certificated and continue to lobby that third-party certification should become mandatory, the minimum standard that we must achieve.