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Certificated fire doorsets save lives and property, says Roy Wakeman OBE, President of the British Woodworking Federation (BWF).

When faced with a fire in an office, care home, hotel or other building, every minute counts. A door no longer is just a door – often it needs to perform a much more critical job. Engineered fire-certificated timber doorsets, manufactured to industry recognised third party accreditation schemes, provide a precious life-saving opportunity for safe evacuation while additional time is gained for the control of the spread of fire in a building.

The development of modern building methods and the revolution in product design have been meteoric over recent decades. Both have been influential in the specification and installation of products, materials and systems that provide ultimate levels of protection.

At the same time, completion costs for today’s buildings have reduced in real terms over this period, and final installation costs for most building components and products have become increasingly more competitive. This is supported by the reality of year-on-year inflation in the price of raw materials counter-balanced with the improved yield and productivity of today’s manufacturing processes.

An engineered fire doorset is a real example: the average selling price of the installed assembly is less today than it was in 2005. At that time a leading firm of quantity surveyors illustrated how the final installed cost of a factory assembled doorset would save over 25% of the traditional method of procurement, and that is still in evidence today.

Building Regulations and building control impose strict fire safety rules, and put emphasis on compliance with industry- recognised certification and performance standards, particularly fire safety products and systems that are tested and proven by third party bodies to protect life and property.

The role of the fire doorset is to prevent fire from spreading from its source to other parts of the building by effectively closing off the room, or compartment, in which the fire started. In a simulated fire test conducted by BWF-CERTIFIRE members, the doorset is in a closed position contained by the doors

fire door assembly which has been fully accredited.

In the case of the BWF-CERTIFIRE Roy Wakeman

closers. The hot gases from the fire source cause the intumescent materials between the door leaf and the frame to expand rapidly and close the gaps between the components. This lasts for the period of the specified fire rated door up to two hours. In extreme installations, where very expensive plant is to be protected, the fire rating designation can be even higher.

In domestic housing, where half of all fires

start in the kitchen, this compartment could be protected by 30 minute fire resistant walls, ceilings and fire doorsets.

All the components that make up a fire doorset are tested and approved under the same certification and backed by the BWF-CERTIFIRE Fire Door and Doorset Scheme, one of the industry’s leading third party schemes. It ensures products sourced and provided to the property owner and correctly installed will protect property and more importantly, save lives. Members of BWF-CERTIFIRE offer independently accredited timber fire doorsets – that is, the door leaf, frame, lock and hardware – of 30, 60, 90 and 120 minutes. The BWF- CERTIFIRE Scheme is recognised by many regulatory authorities worldwide as an international mark of fire safety.

Products that are not sourced responsibly propose a significant risk factor. It is still alarming that, even in today’s rigorous environment, the vast majority of fire door installations are made by contractors buying all the components separately and constructing the assembly on the building site.

To make absolutely sure of a safe and sound specification the risk factor can only be overcome by installing a complete

scheme, a completed fire doorset carries a prominently displayed tamper proof label. The label identifies the period of time that the product will perform for and relevant information about the manufacturer. An identification number provides the manufacturing source and date of production. This is important to the operating life of the doorset which must be maintained in accordance with the life time performance of the building. Now that the industry has seen the launch of the Fire Door Inspection Scheme by BWF- CERTIFIRE and the Guild of Architectural Ironmongers, the final comfort can be provided.

While similar schemes are well established in the USA, the UK’s Fire Door Inspection Scheme is believed to be the first in Europe and is designed to transform people’s knowledge and understanding about the critical purpose and function of fire doors.

It aims to help improve fire safety management, protect property and ultimately save lives through creating a new pool of expertise and competence to help those with legal responsibilities under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order and equivalent legislation.

FDIS provides a vital new resource to help the ‘Responsible Person’ complete fire risk assessments for the premises they manage. It also raises awareness of defective fire doors and the potentially tragic consequences of leaving these unchecked.

Building owners, facilities managers and fire authorities can know that fire doorsets specified, sourced and installed correctly, inspected and maintained, will give years of life saving and property protection.

Such schemes and regulations force less

scrupulous manufacturers to improve standards. The higher degree of labelling and traceability provide a more demanding test regime and more reliable fire door solution.

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