Ask the Experts - Fire Safety in Housing
Ask the Experts - Fire Safety in Housing
By Guy Murphy on
Simply manage your fire door inspection regime
- Real-time transparency on installations, servicing and repairs
- Photographic evidence
- Collect data about your fire door stock
- Approve operatives to work on your properties
Visit the our system page to learn more about how Fire Door works: gastag.co.uk/our-system/fire-door/
Additional Q&A questions
How would data be gathered from private landlords? From my experience, they are very reluctant to comply to a lot of regulations.
Louise Halton: Any data the FDIS collect is via the approved FDIS Inspectors, not the landlords themselves, and any data is collected in line with GDPR.
Are the inspections you are referring to the individual doors to flats themselves, or just in the communal areas?
Louise Halton: If this question refers to all of the general points we covered ref fire doors in the webinar, then both.
Hi Brian, would you recommend that Intumescent strips are fitted to fire doors on fire exit routes, the question has been raised that this would impede egress in an emergency for if the strips were activated as doors could not be opened easily. I always assumed that it would be best to have them installed to stop the spread of flame and if egress was required then the emergency services could help force doors open.
Brian Gregory: It is unlikely you would need them on an external escape door unless you have a circumstance I can not envisage.
Would you consider georgian wired glass as fire-resisting without a watermark?
Louise Halton: The FDIS would always advise you refer to the third party certificated evidence of the door and manufacturer guidelines to see what glazing is suitable.
Brian Gregory: I would take a risk-based approach to this, acknowledge that it does not appear to be marked, but in all other aspects it appears serviceable and in good order, assuming it does. Then I would risk rate the priority of the work and expenditure accordingly.
We know that flat entrance fire doors are critical. How realistic is it to believe that a landlord can gain access to a persons home every three months?
Louise Halton: I think as per a number of points covered in the webinar, this is about finding a balance and ensuring that you are taking all reasonable steps if this is introduced; such as working on a risk assessment basis and assessing risks such as, does the flat house a vulnerable person/persons? I would also recommend you log all of your attempts to access properties and that you communicate this topic well with tenants.
Brian Gregory: Agreed, balance is the key, taking a sample is a very good start, and then having pictures of each front door so you can track new front doors, that then gives you your inspection priority, this is where technology is really helpful.
Are you talking about quarterly on flat entrance doors? This will not be practicable. We are going six-monthly on communal and annual on flat entrance doors but developing a risk-based approach to increasing inspection frequencies.
Louise Halton: As published in a recent Inside Housing article, Sir Martin’s phase one report, published in October, recommended that owners of all residential buildings with fire doors “be required by law to carry out checks at not less than three-monthly intervals to ensure that all fire doors are fitted with effective self-closing devices in working order”. It found that missing or broken self-closers on fire doors at Grenfell helped smoke and toxic gases to spread through the tower. But the government is proposing making three-monthly checks compulsory only for fire doors in communal areas of high rises and six monthly checks would be required for flat entrance doors in high rises.
These updated proposals appear to be largely based on the cost implications high-lighted in the impact statement published alongside the consultation. We do not yet know what the final stance on this will be.
Again, how can you retro inspect door frames have been installed correctly without removing architraves.
Louise Halton: Based on the feedback I have received from approved FDIS Inspectors this is dealt with on a case by case basis, they can sometimes complete an intrusive inspection, but in a number of cases they can only complete a visual inspection. Either way, the inspector will always ensure this is recorded transparently on their inspection report. The approved FDIS Inspectors are only normally called in once all works have been completed for the final inspection. The housing sector may have more of a unique opportunity than most, to also be able to complete checks during the installation period.
Brian Gregory: If you know they have been installed correctly then that is great, if you can prove it even better, I would not advocate pulling the door frame apart if you were confident that it was in good, serviceable order.
The Visual inspection would not identify incorrect installation of the door set, this would require removal of architrave etc - would you take a 2 pronged approach of a full inspection ( instillation) followed by quarterly visual inspections.
Brian Gregory: A solid inspection at the installation stage removes this issue.
Thank goodness for a sensible safety approach to managing the risk. However hopefully then the Building Safety Regulator (BSR)will expect to see a RA which has determined the frequency of FD maintenance it appears that you both agree are you influencing the BSR in their expectations.
Louise Halton: Based on the updates that came out last week with the Building Safety Bill draft I do not believe the BSR has been formed and finalized yet. However, once they have been, we hope our findings along with others will influence their approach moving forward.
Brian Gregory: I can only advocate a risk-based approach if we are to improve standards, any other approach will not work
A follow-up question for Louise regarding that 76%, I understand that you didn’t look into the specific reasons, but I guess what I want to clarify is if they were comparing older Fire Doors against new Building Regulations, and if so, why?
Louise Halton: I do not have a breakdown of information as to how many doors were old and how many were new etc. The approved FDIS inspectors follow an FDIS inspection checklist, to ensure that they cover all elements they need to during the inspector of a fire door/doors, and this is applied regardless of the age of the door. The FDIS Inspector then uses there experience, along with the FDIS inspection checklist to provide a transparent report, indicating the outcome of the inspection/inspections.
What's the alternative to foam?
Louise Halton: The FDIS would always recommend you to look at the test evidence of the certificated door and the manufacturer guidelines to see what has been used during the testing stage and proven to work.
Brian Gregory: There are a lot of certified products out there, I can pass some company names to talk to if you wish?
Following the Hackett report and further reports on Grenfell, there is a recommendation to ensure the fire doors are inspected four times a year and are fit for purpose which includes the door closer, which means access to the property. Do you believe fire risk inspections as a requirement will be supported by legislation in the future?
Louise Halton: As much as I wish I could give an answer to this now, I really do not know what decisions they are going to make at this point in relation to legislation.
Brian Gregory: I agree this is too complex a problem with too many variables just now to answer accurately.
Would you be recommending tightly packed Rockwool as the best alternative to foam?
Louise Halton: As point 11
Brian Gregory: I agree, see my comments on 11 also
We use BM Trade accredited installers. They are now offering to carry out architrave inspections where they remove architraves on a sample of doors, for example, flat entrance doors. Would you recommend such inspections?
Louise Halton: I think I would have more questions on this before responding with an answer. For starters, were the BM Trada accredited installers offering the service the ones who installed the doors? Would you then have two inspections, an inspection of your architrave, and an inspection of the entire fire door?
Brian Gregory: I agree with Louise on this raises more questions, but by sampling like this, it can only be positive to the standard of fire safety in the building.