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Survey suggests proportion of certified fire doors in use on the decline

25 September 2023

IN THE year after the Building Safety Act became law, awareness of the benefits of fire door third party certification is growing, but the proportion of certified fire doors in use has dropped slightly. That’s one of the key findings exposed by new research conducted for the British Woodworking Federation’s Fire Door Alliance.

The survey of 1,000 individuals across the UK with direct responsibility for fire door specification, installation and maintenance found that over half (52%, in fact) now look for third party certification – as opposed to other means – to provide proof of performance for a given fire door. This is a higher figure than the 46% recorded in 2022 when the same audience was surveyed.

Two-thirds (66%) of interviewees said they’re more likely to seek certification as a consequence of the Building Safety Act, while 92% stated that the traceability of a complete fire door assembly is important. That statistic compares with 89% in 2022. These attitudes could indicate that new legislation aimed at increasing accountability is starting to take effect.

Despite the growing awareness of third party certification and greater intention to specify third party certified fire doors evidenced by these figures, this hasn’t yet translated to a higher uptake. Last year, respondents suggested that 56% of the total number of fire doors for which they’re responsible are third party certified. The 2023 figure is lower at 54%.

Disconnect between awareness and intent

Helen Hewitt, CEO of the British Woodworking Federation’s Fire Door Alliance, commented: “It’s clear that new legislation is having an impact on attitudes towards traceability and accountability in fire safety, which is hugely positive to see. For fire doors specifically, we’re witnessing a greater understanding of the benefits that third party certification can deliver in aligning with the intentions of new legislation.”

Hewitt went on to state: “However, the study findings highlight something of a disconnect between greater awareness and intent and the number of third party certified fire doors being specified. This is concerning and highlights the belief that more guidance and training support is needed to increase uptake.”

Further, Hewitt noted: “We do anticipate that, as legislation leads to more robust systems over traceability, we will see an increased demand for third party certification. Certification provides robust proof of performance and traceability of a fire door’s components, its manufacture and journey through the supply chain. As such, it’s a ready-made solution for complying with new regulations.”

Further education and guidance

While the impact of legislation over attitudes and intent appears to be significant, the research also highlights areas where further education and guidance is needed over implementing the new laws.

Some 30% of respondents were unsure of – or otherwise didn’t understand – their responsibilities in terms of the new legislation and pointed towards the need for more support.

Despite 78% of respondents having read new fire safety documents published by the Home Office to assist the ‘Responsible Person’ in fulfilling their obligations, one-third (ie 33%) expressed the belief that more information from the Government would improve understanding of their responsibilities.

That said, not all guidance is expected to emanate from the Government. 39% of respondents want to see more input from employers, while 55% observed that they need better training support.

Helen Hewitt concluded: “The Building Safety Act is still in its relative infancy and it’s only natural that there should be an adjustment period in terms of meeting requirements. The onus isn’t just on organisations or individuals themselves to comply, though. This process also requires the Government, employers and the fire safety and building industries in general to continue to provide education and support in navigating what are major changes. Only by treading this path can we make our buildings safer for all.”

*For more information visit https://firedoors.bwf.org.uk/be-certain-be-certified/