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    Guild renews its call for action on fire safety competencies and fire door checks

    In response to
    the Building a Safer Future consultation on fire
    safety and the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 call for
    evidence, the Guild of Architectural Ironmongers
    (GAI) has renewed its call for mandatory
    competency checks on those who specify fire doors and associated door hardware. 

    The Building a Safer Future proposals
    build on the recommendations from Dame Judith Hackitt’s Independent Review of Building
    Regulations and Fire Safety. The report sets out ideas
    for the fundamental reform of building safety requirements, designed to
    ensure residents can be safe, and feel safe, in their
    homes.  

    The GAI has also called again for
    mandatory fire door inspections and maintenance as part
    of Building Regulations.  

    Its response noted that, while the report
    says residents and landlords in High Risk Residential Buildings
    (HRRBs) should ensure fire compartmentation is maintained to a suitable
    standard, this was in fact only a step in the right
    direction. 

    Douglas Masterson, technical manager of the GAI, said: 

    “Any increased emphasis on competence in industry is most
    welcome by our industry. The architectural ironmongery industry’s view is
    that there is a clear requirement for fire-related and other
    complex specifications to be undertaken by qualified ironmongers,
    and that installations and maintenance should also be
    undertaken by qualified personnel or companies. Competence is key across all
    these areas when it comes to ironmongery, particularly for fire and escape
    doors.” 

    In its submission to the consultation, the GAI has
    also highlighted its growing concerns about
    continued ‘value engineering’ by contractors and sub-contractors, particularly the
    frequent changes to architectural ironmongery specified for fire doors. 

    The Guild supports the change control process
    recommended in Hackitt’s report,
    but also recommends taking it further to add ‘changes in specification on
    product with fire and life safety implications’ to the list of changes that
    would be deemed major. 

    Major changes would require the principal
    contractor to consult the client and principal designer, and then, if
    they are happy with these changes, the principal contractor must then
    notify the regulator and submit further details before carrying out
    the work.  

    “There is a danger that substitution of specified products
    which can have an impact on fire safety, such as architectural
    ironmongery, may not be picked up as part of the existing proposals,” said
    Douglas. “We are most concerned
    that any potential degrading of a specification which has
    been prepared by a qualified architectural ironmonger could have severe fire
    safety consequences.  

    “At the GAI we are still very much in support of
    reintroducing the Clerk of Works role to ensure that specifications are being
    followed to the letter, something that was sadly missing from the Government’s
    response.”  

    The Guild supports calls for a national construction
    products regulator that can take
    action against
    any manufacturer which makes false claims about its products. But the
    GAI argues that its remit needs to go wider: 

    “A national regulator with the powers to take
    legal action should be a necessity against all major standards, not purely
    those which are harmonised standards, as suggested in the original
    report.” 

    The GAI also backs recommendations to change
    the RRO so that the fire service has greater involvement with the sign-off of
    buildings, the industry-wide implementation of smart
    labels, greater clarity of approved documents, and third-party
    testing of products through schemes such as BWF-Certifire. 

    The GAI is part of the Industry Response Working Group 12
    relating to products, chaired by the Construction Products Association. 

    www.gai.org.uk