The Government has issued a Circular Letter drawing attention to issues about fire door tests, particularly following the Grenfell Tragedy.
The Department has been undertaking a series of tests of the performance of fire doors against the performance standards set out in Table B1 of Appendix B of Approved Document B (Fire Safety). They have tested doors from 6 suppliers. Regrettably doors supplied by 5 of these firms have failed. The Department is taking a number of steps to address the situation.
We are currently reviewing the revisions within the Draft Approved Document B, currently out for consultation, particularly in reaction to the combustibility of cladding ban, also out for consultation.
The (current) guidance in Appendix B of Approved Document B (both Volumes) sets out the standards of fire resistance for fire doors in various positions. It also states that: “The requirement (in either case) is for test exposure from each side of the door separately” (note – the exception to this is lift doors).
However, it has come to the Department’s attention that some fire resisting door sets are being marketed on the basis of a single fire resistance test on one side of the door.
Most door sets are not truly symmetrical and as such, testing on both sides is necessary to demonstrate compliance with the approved document.
This is particularly the case for complex door constructions such as those found in double glazed and composite door sets.
The purpose of this mail out as a Building Control Body is that we are reminded of the guidance in paragraph 1 of appendix B that states that test evidence used to substantiate the fire resistance rating of a door or shutter should be carefully checked.
Therefore as our clients to accord with this circular it states quite rightly, that,
Given the public safety implications, we will be seeking checks that test evidence is presented of exposure to fire for both sides of the door, in order to demonstrate compliance with the requirements of Approved Document B.
The circular concludes that The Department will be writing to test laboratories along similar lines to consider this advice carefully when advising their clients on what tests are necessary in order to demonstrate compliance with building regulations’ guidance.
However, The MHCLG, further clarified their earlier Circular on 29thAugust 2018 by issuing a guidance note that included the following.
‘’We are taking steps to clarify this note given systemic issues have so far been identified in the composite door industry only. This advice note, therefore, provides further detail to Building Control Bodies, test laboratories and suppliers of the particular importance of testing composite doors on both sides and confirms that this advice applies to composite doors only.
Investigations continue across the broader Fire Door market and action in response to those investigations will be taken as appropriate’’.
Evaluating doorsets and assurance of performance
Fire Resisting Doorsets currently on sale in the UK will have been tested in accordance with either BS 476-22 or EN1634-1 standards. Both standards acknowledge that it may not always be necessary to carry out tests from both sides of a door set. Clause 13.4 of EN 1634-1 states when it may be appropriate to test on one side. In Annex C of the guidance sets out the rationale for these rules and specifically excludes composite doors by stating that: “Doorsets made from other (Not Timber or Metal) or composite materials are specifically excluded from this annex as there is not sufficient evidence of their behaviour in fire to be able to provide guidance on the weakest side against fire attack.”
The Department’s view is that Clause 13.4 of EN 1634-1 represents the best available advice on this matter and it should be followed regardless of whether the doorset is being classified to BS 476-22 or EN 1634-1.
The MHCLG therefore has issued the following action to be taken
We strongly recommend the following actions to confirm that the appropriate tests have been applied to composite doors:
- Designers and specifiers –seek assurance and evidence from their suppliers that the products they are specifying meet the appropriate standards.
- Building Control Bodies – Should satisfy themselves that products being used on a project under their supervision meet the appropriate standards. Where there is any doubt, or where the doorsets are particularly critical then they should request and review the test reports and not necessarily rely on manufacturer’s literature.
- Test laboratories and Certification Schemes – Should take note of this advice and ensure that their documentation clearly shows the nature of testing that has been used in order to support any classification and justification of the test methodology that has been used.