Managing Editor, IFSEC Insider

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James Moore is the Managing Editor of IFSEC Insider, the leading online publication for security and fire news in the industry.James writes, commissions, edits and produces content for IFSEC Insider, including articles, breaking news stories and exclusive industry reports. He liaises and speaks with leading industry figures, vendors and associations to ensure security and fire professionals remain abreast of all the latest developments in the sector.
September 22, 2021


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The importance of third-party certification in fire door safety

In support of this year’s Fire Door Safety Week, IFSEC Global explores why industry professionals so often stress the importance of third-party certification for fire doors.

Legislation in the fire safety sector is certainly undergoing a transformation in 2021, with the Fire Safety Act being finalised, as well as the introduction of the Building Safety Bill and its related secondary legislation. However, those in the industry are quick to point towards the need for more, such as ensuring products designed to keep buildings and occupants safe are fit for purpose.

Concerns over fire door safety have been ongoing for some time – not least because of the issues raised in the Grenfell Tower Inquiry. One of the most important aspects of passive fire protection and compartmentation measures, fire doors should be tested against the elements to ensure they are able to withstand fires for the requisite time, helping to delay the spread of fire from one area to another.


Image courtesy of UL

To ensure fire doors do live up to standard and don’t fail when it matters most, many industry professionals highlight the importance of ensuring that those doorsets that are specified and installed have been verified by independent third-party certification bodies, such as UL or the Building Research Establishment (BRE). It is also something that Dame Judith Hackitt advised for all fire safety-related products in her independent report following the Grenfell Tower fire.

Speaking about the issue, the Door & Hardware Federation (DHF)’s General Manager and Secretary, Michael Skelding, notes: “Fire-resisting doorsets are obviously safety-critical and should therefore be subject to third party certification, at least when the intended use is in high-risk buildings.

“There really should be little need for discussion on this. If we wait for all the other issues raised by Grenfell to be debated before dealing with this one, we are missing a golden opportunity to make a significant improvement in fire safety in high-risk residential buildings.”

READ: Firestopping and third-party certification

Ensuring the correct materials are used to maintain fire doors is imperative throughout the lifecycle of a doorset, too – something that certification can also support on, adds Kevin Underwood, Technical Director at the British Woodworking Federation.

“As part of the requirements of the certification, manufacturers either apply a label or a plug which identifies the original manufacturer. This allows information related to the fire door’s specification and production records to be obtained. This is vital, as it means that ongoing maintenance can be carried out against the fire door’s original specification, using compatible components to ensure the certification is retained.”

How do third-party certification schemes work?

Third-party certification schemes are optional assurance schemes available for product manufacturers, offering additional assurance to both the supplier and buyer that the product works as intended. Often, the standards for third-party schemes are higher than those required, ensuring that products, such as fire doors, go beyond the minimum requirements.

In essence, products are tested by an independent body to determine product performance, with formal test evidence coming from a notified laboratory.

Chris Johnson, Staff Engineer, Built Environment, UL, continues: “One of the main assurances that supports a third-party certification scheme is factory product control audit and audit sampling. Primary test evidence only relates to the product’s performance in the test on that given day and the product as supplied by the manufacturer, may not reflect that which was tested previously. However, having the product independently sampled from the factory production line for testing and the production process checked for quality control measures, offers better assurances.”


Image courtesy of UL

Certification testing covers a variety of different parameters, and once a fire door passes the required tests, it is listed on an independent publicly available register by the certification body. Annual control and testing audits are then required to ensure the product continues to conform to standards.

Chris adds: “An insistence on third-party certification by the architect/specifier/contractor in the project planning, bidding and specification phases, is generally constituted to be best practice, and it assists with due diligence of those with a responsibility for building safety.”

Why should the industry be aware of third-party certification?

While third-party certification has been a feature of building safety products for many years, there has been a renewed focus on it as a result of Dame Judith Hackitt’s ‘golden thread’ report. A new Construction Products Regulator has also been announced as part of the Building Safety Bill, whose job it will be to address concerns and review testing regimes to ensure the UK’s national approach to building safety is fit for purpose.

Brian Sofley, Managing Director for ASSA ABLOY Door Group, adds: “Fire doors are one of the most important safety features in a building. Whilst providing access around the property they are a critical part of the fire compartmentation requirement.

“It is therefore highly recommended that developers, specifiers and contractors consider doorsets as a complete system with independent third-party certification, in preference to an on-site assembly of separate components.”

In support of the importance for third-party certified products, FIREX International, Europe’s leading annual fire safety event, has committed to only featuring exhibitors whose products are third-party certified.

Gerry Dunphy, Event Director for FIREX International, states: ‘’We’ve been eager to establish FIREX as a third-party only event for several years. The discussion around a more serious approach to life safety from the government following the Grenfell Tower fire has provided a context for us to explore promoting the highest possible standards with all our partners.

“We feel this decision can only enhance the experience FIREX offers and will provide all customers with a confidence they’re in a seriously focused environment. Quite simply, life safety isn’t an area for compromise, particularly with regards to construction products, so we’re pleased FIREX can fully play its part, in partnership with the industry, in helping to raise standards.”

This year’s Fire Door Safety Week continues to stress the importance that fire doorsets need to be correctly installed, with robust maintenance procedures. The campaign urges those responsible for their upkeep, installation and manufacturing to ensure they are fit for purpose in order to protect buildings and their occupants from the spread of fire.

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Steve Collins
Steve Collins
September 23, 2021 1:42 pm

The article above mentions ‘UL’ twice.
What is ‘UL’.