Are we at a tipping point for fire door safety?

18 October 2022

The recent passing of the Building Safety Act 2022, along with the Fire Safety Act 2021, marks a critical point in the way building safety risks will be considered. To ensure compliance with the new regime, greater understanding and awareness of the benefits that third-party fire door certification provides is crucial, writes Helen Hewitt, CEO of the British Woodworking Federation (BWF)

While new legislation appears to have had a positive initial impact, there’s still work to be done in disseminating the details and building an understanding of how compliance with the law can be met.

The BWF Fire Door Alliance’s new report commissioned for its Be Certain, Be Certified campaign found that almost one in three individuals with responsibility for fire door safety don’t know what is required of them under the Building Safety Act (previously the Building Safety Bill). Greater understanding is vital to ensure compliance with the new regime.

While the Building Safety Act doesn’t explicitly require fire doors to have third-party certification, the requirement for greater accountability and traceability highlights the role for third-party certified products. Third-party certification can offer traceability throughout the construction supply chain – maintaining the ‘golden thread’ of information that’s now required to demonstrate compliance with specified building regulations and provide robust evidence of performance.

Third-party certification goes beyond a fire test report, which can only determine if the tested fire door was fit for purpose. Certification ensures the product is tested appropriately and produced to a consistent standard. This is an important distinction in the context of seeking reassurance that all efforts have been made to protect lives and property.

The Building Safety Act 2022 reinforces a stricter regulatory framework to protect residents in high-rise buildings and multiple-occupancy buildings. These residents often require longer for safe evacuation or for fire services to enable their safe exit of the building, so a fire door’s ability to hold back the spread of smoke and fire is crucial.

However, the use of third-party certified fire doors is just 9.5% for both local authority buildings and houses of multiple occupancy, as found in our report. The use of third-party certified fire doors in these properties will enable those responsible for fire door safety to ensure compliance, protect those most at risk and benefit from peace of mind that the fire door will perform as stated.

Those who do specify third-party certified fire doors give compliance with fire safety legislation as the primary reason for doing so (47%). For those looking for assurance that they’re complying with fire safety legislation, third-party certification can provide much needed peace of mind.

Encouragingly, in light of the new legislation, more than half of respondents said they will ask for more information on product traceability and seek more proof of performance going forward – that will naturally see them look for third-party certification.

The introduction of the Building Safety Act and Fire Safety Act have been positive steps forward for fire safety across the UK and enforce new requirements for greater accountability and traceability throughout the construction supply chain. Third-party certification of fire doors can provide this much-needed traceability and ensure compliance with regulations, which will ultimately deliver life-saving protection for building users and occupants.

Helen Hewitt