It’s now more than three years since the Grenfell Tower fire, and over two years since the Hackitt report into the disaster highlighted the issues with the building’s construction and fire safety strategy that led to so much tragic loss of life.
There have been some very positive lessons learned, safety-focused legislative changes and an increased vigilance in selecting fire safety certified products since that dreadful June night in 2017. But more progress is still needed to ensure buildings are genuinely safer. Effective compartmentation is critical in stalling the spread of fire and smoke, providing a vital window of opportunity for safe evacuation or rescue of occupants and minimising damage to the building’s fabric and contents.
Fire doors play an important role in achieving the compartmentation strategy in many buildings; not just in multi-occupancy residential buildings, which have been the focus of changes to building regulations, but also offices, schools and hotels, where cellularised accommodation and extended corridors need to be compartmented to reduce risk.
None of this is news to specifiers or developers, who are more conscious than ever about compliance requirements and their responsibilities. The essential point to consider, however, is that a fire door, no matter how robust and thoroughly tested, will not delay the spread of fire and smoke unless it is properly installed.
As with many construction materials, the performance of fire doors depends not only on their manufacture but also on the installation values on site. Unlike many building components, however, installation errors when fitting fire doors do not simply result in snagging or quality issues but potentially could also cause an increased risk to life.
Only when installed to manufacturer’s guidelines will fire door sets be compliant and perform to the criteria outlined in their testing and certification. While many building contractors will fit fire doors as part of a project, if they are not certified to do so, the doors may not be fit for purpose when put to the ultimate test in the event of a fire. And any poor installation values discovered at this point are a lot more serious than an invalid warranty or contractor call back; they could cost lives.
It’s for the safety of the end user and the peace of mind of our clients that Chisholm & Winch has invested in becoming a BM TRADA-certified installer of fire door sets. Our BM TRADA certification ensures that our installers are trained and competent to deliver a compliant installation that will enable safe evacuation, protect the building structure and allow firefighters to tackle the blaze.
What is BM TRADA Certification?
BM TRADA is a global testing and certification company that provides respected and credible certification for the manufacture, installation and maintenance of fire doors. Certification by BM TRADA ensures a fire door’s fire resistance capabilities meet the standards required for safety and compliance.
Accreditation is a detailed process. Following an initial application from a construction and fit-out specialist like Chisholm & Winch, a site audit and written report is followed by a second audit if needed, to ensure that any required improvements have been carried out.
Certification must then be maintained through a planned programme of audit checks followed by a re-certification audit in the year before certification expires.
At Chisholm & Winch, we have been BM TRADA certified for 17 years and our site teams have all been trained in fire door installation, enabling us to guarantee a compliant installation for our clients, first time, every time.
It’s important to remember that maintenance of passive fire safety measures like fire doors is just as important as regular servicing of fire extinguishers and alarms. Our team is able to carry out this vital maintenance to ensure the building remains safety compliant, compartmentation is robust and that the occupants are protected in the event of a fire.
A key lesson from Grenfell Tower and the Hackitt report is that fire safety requires a joined-up approach and a commitment to due diligence, with fire strategy, high quality specification and installation values working together to create safer buildings. Working with a contractor that is a certified fire door installer is a key part of that commitment.