Government Building Safety Programme: advice for building owners on assurance and replacing of flat entrance fire doors

Fire doors from five out of six suppliers have been identified as failing to meet requisite fire performance standards following an investigation by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.

The Ministry of Housing Communities & Local Government (MHCLG) has undertaken a series of tests on the performance of fire doors against the performance standards set out in Table B1 of Appendix B of Approved Document B (Fire safety) of the Building Regulations.

The MHCLG has tested fire doors from six suppliers of which fire doors from five suppliers have failed. The products which have failed government tests to-date are reported by the MHCLG to include glazed and unglazed doors supplied by: Manse Masterdor and Masterdor Limited; and glazed composite doors supplied by: Specialist Building Products Limited (trading as Permadoor); Solar Windows Limited; and Birtley Group Limited (trading as Bowater by Birtley).

The doors which failed were marketed on the basis of a single fire resistance test to one side of the door. However, as most door sets are not truly symmetrical, testing on both sides is required to demonstrate compliance with Approved Document B.

What does this mean for landlords and building owners?

It is incumbent on landlords and building owners to ensure, insofar as is reasonably practicable, that their residents, visitors and employees are not exposed to a risk to their health and safety. This includes the risk of harm from fire.

The MHCLG has advised landlords and building owners that they should check test evidence/certification and documentation for existing or proposed door sets to ensure that it adequately demonstrates that flat entrance doors meet the fire resistance and smoke control requirements of Approved Document B from both sides. Further, landlords and building owners should (where possible) repair or otherwise replace flat entrance doors if they suspect that such doors do not meet the requirements of Approved Document B. The urgency of replacement should be determined by reference to fire risk assessment processes.

The MHCLG has additionally written to Heads of Local Authority Building Control and Approved Inspectors to remind building control bodies to check that test evidence is presented. This may delay Building Control sign-off on new build developments if such evidence is not readily available.

Potential issues

Landlords and building owners may face difficulty in ascertaining the specification of their existing door sets and whether such specification complies with Approved Document B. In the absence of sufficient records, they may need to turn to the relevant contractors and/or professional team to provide the relevant information. This is in addition to the unavoidable question: who is legally responsible for the cost of any necessary repair or replacement?

In the wake of the Grenfell tragedy, our Construction and Engineering team has assisted numerous local authorities, housing associations and private clients with issues arising from the presence of ACM cladding and defective passive fire protection. 

For more information please contact Mark London or Matthew Cocklin.

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