Editor, IFSEC Global

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Adam Bannister was Editor of IFSEC Global from 2014 through to November 2019. Adam is also a former Managing Editor at Dynamis Online Media Group.
December 3, 2015

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A “Borderline National Crisis”: the New BWF-CERTIFIRE Chairman’s Damning Verdict on the State of UK Fire Doors

The new chairman of the UK’s largest fire door certification scheme has delivered a damning verdict on the state of fire doors across the country.

David Oldfield, head of joinery at Arnold Laver and now chair of the BWF-CERTIFIRE Scheme after replacing David Paxton, called the problem “a borderline national crisis”.

Decrying a culture of complacency among some of those specifying, installing and maintaining fire doors and other passive fire protection measures he pointed to recent FDIS research revealing that 61% of fire doors inspected had problems with fire or smoke seals and the £1m of fines levied for breaches of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order so far this year.

The ’75 facts about fire’ produced by the BWF-CERTIFIRE Scheme for Fire Door Safety Week also documented fire safety failures across the UK.

But Oldfield, who has worked at Arnold Laver for 15 years – since leaving school – did acknowledge some positive developments, such as the improvement and simplification of third-party certification and initiatives undertaken by the Fire Door Inspection Scheme (FDIS).

“The scale of the problem is huge and appears to affect every sector and every type of building we use, work and live in,” said Oldfield. “The state of the nation’s fire doors is a borderline national crisis.

“The fire door industry and its close partners across construction and fire safety services need to continue to work together to ensure critical messages about fire door safety reach our customers, but also echo in the corridors of power. Change needs to be driven from the top.

“The message is simple: ensure the right product is specified and installed correctly, and that means a third-party certificated product. Anything less is frankly an unnecessary and unacceptable risk.”

Taking the reins at the BWF-CERTIFIRE Scheme as new regulations on CE marking of fire door sets are implemented Oldfield’s first priorities will include:

  • Broadening the reach and impact of the Fire Door Safety Week campaign, which takes place every September
  • Promoting fire door online training modules recently developed for the BWF’s new Training Academy
  • The distribution of BWF-CERTIFIRE’s comprehensive Best Practice Guide
  • And raising the scheme’s profile among small building firms and the merchant sector. “Coming from an Arnold Laver background really means that I do understand the problem from a number of different perspectives,” said Oldfield

Said Iain McIlwee, chief executive of the BWF: “The BWF-CERTIFIRE Scheme has grown significantly in recent years and is now responsible for the testing and certification of about two million fire doors a year, approximately 70% of the market.

“David Oldfield is bringing new ideas to carry on the good work, promoting the critical importance of third-party certificated fire doors and growing the market for scheme members.”

Ever two years a new BWF-CERTIFIRE chairman is voted in on the basis of their network, technical competence and ability to represent the sector.

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Alan Cox
Alan Cox
December 4, 2015 12:40 pm

I would certainly support David’s comments in respect of fire doors and the complacency that surrounds them in the UK and the “75 facts about fire” makes interesting reading. From my perspective this complacency and misunderstanding goes back many years and that was why some years ago I produced the Fire Door Educational Package that was described by the late Peter Jackman as “the third major milestone in the history of fire doors”. What I aimed to achieve in this package was a one stop shop on the design, testing, installation, upgrading and maintenance of fire doors. Looking back at… Read more »

Alan Cox
Alan Cox
January 4, 2016 10:23 am

During Christmas I stayed at a hotel near to Macclesfield and whilst the hotel and grounds are very impressive the standard of fire safety leave a lot to be desired. As you will note I have been banned from putting fire safety information on Trip Advisor and so I will now publish my reviews on this site, see http://issuu.com/alanfcox/docs/shrigley_hall_fire_safety_report_20 I would be interested in any comments that readers have. One last point – following my initial stay at this hotel I wrote to the fire authority and notified them of my concerns as I have done this time – so… Read more »