Scott Francis of Bowater doors explores the standards and accreditations housebuilders should consider when looking for a composite fire door.
Choosing fire doors can be a confusing and frustrating process. The internet is awash with manufacturers, installers and so called ‘experts’ making contradictory claims and quoting different standards. So how do you decipher this information and what should you look for when choosing a fire door, especially composite doorsets?
BS EN 1634
BS EN 1634 is the latest standard for fire resistance and smoke control, and is accepted in Approved Document B, the fire safety element of the Building Regulations in England.
EN 1634 is a far more demanding test in comparison to the old BS 476 standard. This is particularly in reference to the requirement to expose both sides of the door to the fire combined with the increased level of pressure and heat in the furnace.
When looking for composite fire doorsets, choosing a model tested to EN 1634 will ensure you are specifying the most up to date standard that complies with the current Building Regulations.
BM TRADA is a UKAS-accredited certification body which provides independent third party certification fire services for the manufacture, installation and maintenance of fire doors.
The Q Mark scheme aims to raise the ongoing standards throughout the lifetime of a fire door to ensure quality and fire resistant performance are consistent.
Manufacturers signing up to Q Mark certifications are subjected to a rigorous testing and audit process. This is to ensure that they have documented product specifications, installation instructions and a factory production control system, all of which integrate into a Quality Management Scheme such as ISO 9001.
This initial audit is then followed by subsequent periodic checks to ensure that standards and quality are maintained consistently throughout the manufacturing process.
For reassurance and peace of mind, specifiers and buyers should look for Q Mark accredited fire door manufacturers who have committed to improving the quality of fire doors with regular third party audits, ongoing test evidence, consistent quality, and compliance.
A poorly installed fire door will not save lives. The installation of the doorset is equally as important as the stringent testing and manufacturing process.
Manufacturers must supply fitting instructions for each fire doorset, however the housebuilder must ensure that they are fitted correctly. As such, it is recommended that the installer should be a member of the Q Mark fire door installation scheme to ensure compliance throughout the supply and installation of the product.
Choosing the correct fire door and certified installer is only successful if the fire door is maintained correctly throughout its life.
Fire doors require periodic maintenance to ensure that they continue to offer the life-saving capabilities promised by the manufacturer.
While it’s important that the person carrying out the maintenance is part of the Q Mark certified team, low maintenance composite fire doors offer the potential to reduce repair and replacement costs with minimal disruption to the occupants.
THE DOOR SLAB
Some composite fire doors feature an Agrifiber core door slab, an environmentally friendly ‘green building product’ made from straw and wood fibres that are bonded and sealed using MDI (Isocyanate resin).
The use of Agrifiber in construction can also deliver Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) credits for sustainable construction methods, as well as providing a strong, stable and fire resistant core.
Choose a fully finished composite frame that has been designed specifically for use with fire doors.
There are many doors on the market that use timber filled PVC frames that may have passed EN 1634, but they have not been specifically designed for fire protection. Fire resistant composite frames are manufactured consistently to maintain uniformity and the quality of the final product.
FIRE DOOR IDENTIFICATION
As part of the Q-Mark manufacturer scheme, all fire doors leaving the factory are fitted with a physical plug fixed into the door to classify the period of fire integrity, the type of door, and a unique company number to identify the manufacturer. This will help to ensure that any maintenance or replacement can be done in line with the manufacturer’s guidelines.
Choose a fire door manufacturer that is part of the Q Mark scheme.
Doing this ensures consistent quality throughout the manufacturing process, and instills confidence that the product will perform to the test standards.
Scott Francis is technical manager at Bowater Doors