Fire Door Industry – The Future
Every year in the United Kingdom over 3 million fire doors are manufactured and installed.
Until recently understanding of fire doors in the UK has been quite poor. However, the British Woodwork Federation (BWF), Guild of Architectural Ironmongers (GAI), the Fire Door Alliance, Fire Door Inspection Scheme (FDIS) and other major stakeholders have put in significant effort to improve fire door awareness. Initiatives such as Fire Door Safety Week have had a great impact on fire door awareness.
After the tragic Grenfell Fire in June 2017 there has been an increased focus on passive fire protection. Therefore, the fire door industry has benefited from this increased focus.
Overall, there is an increased focus on building safety especially in relation to fire safety. Furthermore, there is increased scrutiny from insurance companies who are keen to ensure buildings they insure include third-party certificated fire safety products. As well as proof that they have been installed by competent persons.
Over the course of the 2020s there is set to be even more changes to the industry. Particularly in the use of technology, competency, laws, training and growth of the industry. Let’s explore these changes.
Changes to fire door training
A key change that is already been seen in the fire door industry now is an increase in fire door training. Under the terms of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety Order) 2005 all fire safety product must be installed by a ‘competent person’. A competent person is defined as someone with relevant training and qualifications. Housing associations, large house building companies and local authorities are doing far more due diligence nowadays to ensure that fire door installers/maintainers and fire door inspectors have relevant training and qualifications.
In many cases, particularly in the commercial sector they are looking for fire door installation and maintenance companies to be members of third-party accredited schemes such as BM Trada Fire Door Installation Scheme. It will be interesting to see if third-party schemes are increasingly required in the 2020s. Whilst it would be beneficial from a due diligence and paperwork point of view. There is also the potential to push self-employed and sole trader companies out of the market. The reason for this is because membership to these schemes is very expensive and can cost several thousand pounds every year. This is an investment that may be out of reach for many fire door installers and maintainers.
An alternative solution is for installers to do a course such as the BWF Fire Door Installation Awareness Course. This is approved by NOCN and comes with their SiteRight branding. This is a much more cost-effective option. The course is still proof of relevant training as defined by the Fire Safety Order and the certification lasts for 5 years. Furthermore, the course can be used as a steppingstone to complete an NVQ in fire door installation.
Fire door inspection qualifications such as FDIS are increasing in popularity. Some schemes are now getting UKAS accreditation such as the Certified FDIS Inspector route or BlueSky Certification’s Inspection Scheme.
There is also the introduction of organisations such as FireQual. FireQual aims to be a “specialist fire safety Awarding Body providing consistency across the UK in the development of knowledge and skills within the fire safety industry”. The introduction of courses from FireQual will change the fabric of the fire safety training industry.
Finally, if the If the proposals contained in the Hackitt Report are implemented those working on high rise residential buildings (RRRBs) will need to undergo recognised training and continued professional development.
Changes in legislation
The Regulatory Reform Fire Safety Order has been in place since 2005 (it was first enforced in 2006). What became clear in the wake of the Grenfell Fire Disaster was the Fire Safety Order was inadequate. It has since been strengthened by the Fire Safety Act 2021. The Fire Safety Act seeks to prevent another tragedy like Grenfell. It clarifies who is responsible for managing reducing fire risk in multi-occupied, residential buildings, including external wall cladding and common areas.
Regarding fire doors the Fire Safety Act has closed a loophole that the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 failed to address. The Fire Safety Act requires that fire doors to individual flats must be inspected as part a fire risk assessment on any given building. From now on (in England and Wales), the ‘Responsible Person’ must by law commission a fire risk assessment which includes a full fire doors full fire door inspection. Although passed in 2021 the Fire Safety Act will not be enforced until 2023.
There is also the introduction of the Building Safety Act. The aim of the Act is to deal issues surrounding fire safety, the existing building safety regime and any confusion around the roles and responsibilities of those involved in the construction process. It will bring in greater accountability for fire and structural safety issues during the lifetime of buildings. Included in the Act is stricter regulatory rules for ‘high risk buildings’; a high-risk building is one which is 18 metres or more above ground level or contains more than 6 storeys. This will have a significant impact upon the fire door industry.
As housing associations and other institutions begin to have more fire door inspections.
Changes in Fire Door Technology
The Hackitt report made a clear recommendation for there to be a ‘golden thread’ of fire safety information. The recommendations lead up to the critical collection, storage and continuation of data and information throughout the lifecycle of a building – from construction, through to any changes and updates, and onwards. This information should be in a digital format and be kept up to to date. Furthermore, the Hackitt Report recommends that this information is openly accessible and secure.
One of the ways that institutions are looking to achieve this is to implement RFID technology to maintain their fire door stock. RFID technology allows companies to maintain their stock by installing data stickers or plugs into fire doors. The RFID technology is the same used in contactless payments such as tapping your debit card or Apple Pay.
RFID technology allows an institution such as a Housing Association keep up to date and relevant records on all their fire door stock. They will have access to a dashboard that includes all their properties and their fire doors. It will be interesting to see how quick RFID technology is taken up in the fire door industry over the course of the next few years to achieve a ‘golden thread’ of information.
Changes to fire door inspections
As already stated there will be significant changes in the fire door inspection industry. Because the Fire Safety Act will make it a legal responsibility to carry out a full fire door inspection to apartment and flat entrance doors. When the Fire Safety Act is enforced in 2023, we are likely to see an increased in the fire door inspection industry as organisations come to understand their legal duties.
This inspection must be carried out by a ‘competent person’ such as a certified fire door inspector.
The fire door industry is globally expected to increase significantly in the 2020s. This growth will be driven by government laws and initiatives, increased focus on building safety, increased awareness, and insurance companies. The global fire door market is expected to grow by from $10.1bn in 2019 to $13.0bn in 2026. This represents a 5.2% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) in the market.