Three quarters of fire doors failed inspections in 2019

More than three quarters (76%) of the fire doors inspected by the Fire Door Inspection Scheme (FDIS) in 2019 were condemned as not fit for purpose.

The three top reasons for failure were excessive gaps, smoke sealing issues and poorly adjusted door closers.

FDIS, which examined more than 100,000 inspections in over 2,700 buildings across the UK, also highlighted the challenges with fire door installation. Some 30% of fire doors nationwide were condemned due to poor installation, with problems including excessive gaps around the door and the use of non-compatible foam. In addition, 63% of the buildings inspected also had additional fire safety issues.

A total of 57% of installed fire doors inspected needed small scale maintenance.

Louise Halton, scheme manager of FDIS, said: “The buildings that our inspectors visit include sleeping accommodation and those that house the elderly, the disabled, and people with mobility or cognitive needs – some of the most vulnerable in our society. However, the latest data shows that the vast majority of fire doors are not fit for purpose. This paints a very worrying picture of the fire safety of the UK’s buildings, and one that we must all play a role in changing for the better to help protect lives.”

She added: “The biggest concern for our inspectors is the lack of knowledge that people have about fire doors. For example, third-party certificated fire doors provide crucial specification information and proof of performance for building owners, but if they are incorrectly installed or not maintained, they will not perform as designed and prevent the spread of fire.

“The correct specification, installation and ongoing maintenance of a fire door can really mean the difference between life or death for occupants, so it’s vital that building owners take responsibility and ensure that their fire doors are regularly inspected and maintained so as to save lives.”

The Fire Door Inspection Scheme (FDIS) was launched as a joint venture by the British Woodworking Federation (BWF) and the Guild of Architectural Ironmongers (GAI) in 2012. The research was based on a FDIS survey of its inspectors carried out in January and February 2020.

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  1. This seems to be a continuing worrying trend and it is critical that fire doors are correctly specified, installed and maintained.

  2. Fire doors is a major issue. Most people including builders do not understand how fire doors work.Builders think they are the same as a standard door, and they don’t understand the function of a fire door. Regards Robert M Foley.

  3. Thank you for the report. Further:

    What is the record of improvement from year to year over a period of say 5 years?

    Where faults have been identified by inspectors then what percentage have been put right and corrected when a repeat visit by the inspector is carried out?

    How many follow-up visits were there after a period of months to check that faults had been addressed?

  4. Are the BWF going to look at their door labelling scheme ‘sticky’ labels on top of door are not a robust solution and often wash away when cleaners wipe over top of doors, potential issue when trying to identity door when registers are not readily available .

  5. Thank you for sharing the results of the report. There are other factors that have to be looked at as well:
    1- The specification of the doors as defined by engineering consultant.
    2- The site inspection by project quality control team on site (contractor and consultant)
    3- The quality control performed by the manufacturing plant. This is important since the door has to be stamped before shipping to site.
    4- Upon delivery, the door has to be inspected by site team to ensure the door is compatible with projects’ requirements.

    On the other hand, where is the periodic training of site team on many aspects of site inspection and quality control. This type of training is always conducted by the elder employees (on pay roll or retirements) so that their dear experience can be transferred to junior team.

  6. I am a carpenter of many years experience. I am an expert at hanging a fire door. The door should not have a gap more than 3mm around the frame due to the intumescent strips not doing its job of preventing smoke from leaking through. I can’t believe that building contractors who are supposed to be part of certain quality controlled bodies have passed those doors. They need to trace and fine these contractors for poor quality of essential work that the public rely for their health and safety.

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