What are the benefits of third-party certification of timber fire doors?

Helen Hewitt, Chief Executive of the British Woodworking Federation (BWF)
14 January 2020

Helen Hewitt, BWF CEOA fire door is a vital safety measure engineered to protect lives and property. Fire doors are part of a building’s passive fire protection system and an essential requirement for all public buildings, offices, and factories. But how can builders’ merchants ensure that the fire door they recommend to customers will perform as it’s designed? 

Following the Grenfell Tower tragedy, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) conducted an investigation into the burn time of different types of fire doors. Findings showed the timber fire doors tested met required standards and all of them exceeded the minimum 30-minute burn time requirement. This contrasts with the performance of the glass-reinforced polymer foam-filled fire doors – the type recovered from Grenfell Tower, of which many failed the MHCLG tests.

These findings underline the importance of ensuring that fire doors are fit for purpose. At the BWF Fire Door Alliance, we believe the only way to be assured of the performance of fire doors, regardless of the material they are made from, is through rigorous testing and third-party certification of fire door assemblies, including its component parts, such as the frame, intumescent seals, glazing systems and ironmongery etc.

What is third-party certification for fire doors?

Third-party certification is a process of testing and verifying a fire door’s design, performance, manufacturing process and quality assurance of procedures and supporting documentation. A company that seeks third-party certification is independently audited to ensure that the management and manufacturing processes, and supporting systems, are in place to ensure consistency with the product that was initially tested. The product is also subjected to regular scrutiny, with periodic testing taking place on standard products to ensure that the test wasn’t just a once-only event.

Benefits of third-party certification

The third-party certification process offers reassurance to merchants and their customers, giving them confidence in a fire door’s performance.

For example, third-party certified fire doors manufactured by companies in the BWF Fire Door Alliance will have a label on them that carries a unique identification number. This provides access to all information related to the door such as its manufacturer, and specification information. This label provides the ability to trace the doors manufacturing history through production records, which is particularly beneficial for customers as it allows - in the majority of cases - the original fire certificate and specification to be located. For ongoing maintenance this is crucial for identifying replacement components to ensure ongoing compliance. 

Being able to view this information means that builders’ merchants can offer recommendations to their customers on the correct component parts for fire door assemblies helping their customers ensure compliance under the Building Regulations or the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order (RRO).

To be confident in the performance of a fire door, it’s crucial that builders’ merchants recommend third-party certified fire doors to their customers to ensure the product will perform as required in the event of a fire.

For more information visit: https://firedoors.bwf.org.uk