Adam Bannister

Editor, IFSEC Global

Author Bio ▼

Adam Bannister is editor of IFSEC Global. A former managing editor at Dynamis Online Media Group, he has been at the helm of the UK's leading fire and security publication since 2014.
May 14, 2019

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A Barbour guide to business continuity

BBC Watchdog investigation

Missing fire barriers in new-build homes raises concerns over training

House builders are being urged to heed lessons from a BBC investigation that found fire barriers were missing or incorrectly installed on several new-build homes.

Experts estimate that fire and smoke can spread five to 10 times faster without fire barriers, which form a complete seal between different areas of a home.

The BBC Watchdog Live team discovered that a number of new-builds constructed by Persimmon Homes and Bellway Homes were sold with fire barriers either fitted wrongly or missing entirely.

“The BBC’s Watchdog discovered serious breaches that had gone undetected during the construction process, leaving homes and lives potentially at risk in the event of a fire,” said Patricia Sowsbery-Stevens, commercial manager at the Door & Hardware Federation (DHF), a trade body representing locks and building hardware, doorsets, industrial doors and shutters, domestic garage doors and automated gates.

“We urge house builders to ‘get it right’ at the construction stage.” Patricia Sowsbery-Stevens, commercial manager, DHF

“In many new builds, particularly timber-framed buildings, fire barriers are a vital part of fire protection and we would urge house builders to ‘get it right’ at the construction stage and to have a workforce that is trained in, and understands, the importance of installing the fire barriers required to prevent potential problems down the line.

“Ultimately, responsibility for ensuring that buildings are compliant with building regulations lies with the house builder.”

“committed to improvement”

Bellway Homes responded to the investigation with a statement saying it was “committed to improvement” and had introduced mandatory training on fire stopping and other areas of fire safety for all relevant construction staff.

DHF, in common with the FPA among other bodies, has lobbied for the introduction of mandatory third-party certification, by a UKAS-accredited body, of manufacture, installation, maintenance and inspection of fire, smoke and security doors.

DHF, which was founded in 1897, offers fire door training courses in conjunction with BRE Academy.

In March 2019, DHF, Secured by Design (SBD) and Fire Industry Association (FIA) published A Guide for Selecting Flat Entrance Doorsets; A publication for housing associations, landlords, building owners and local authorities in England.

“Since Grenfell, the wider issue of fire safety has been thrust into the spotlight and we are delighted that progress is being made in this regard,” said Patricia.

“We continue to stress that the use of fire doors, correctly installed and with robust fire door maintenance procedures, are an essential part of fire safety and urge those in positions of responsibility (such as house builders) to ensure that they are not only fulfilling regulations, as well as legal and moral obligations, but insisting upon appropriate levels of training with regards to installation and maintenance.”

The Future of Fire Safety: download the eBook

Is the fire protection industry adapting to the post-Grenfell reality fast enough? At FIREX International 2019, Europe's only dedicated fire safety event, some of the world's leading fire safety experts covered this theme. This eBook covers the key insights from those discussions on the developments shaping the profession, with topics including:

  • Grenfell Inquiry must yield “bedrock change” – and soon
  • After Grenfell: Jonathan O’Neill OBE on how austerity and policy “on the hoof” are hampering progress
  • Hackitt’s Golden Thread: Fire, facilities and building safety
  • Fire safety community has to “get on board” with technological changes

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