This article explains how Secured by Design, the national police crime prevention initiative, is working with companies to overcome the challenges of achieving dual certification for both fire and security at communal entrances to blocks of flats.
Secured by Design (SBD) has announced that doors that are described as fire doors, or where fire performance is declared or implied, are required to have third-party certification for both security and fire performance in order to achieve its Police Preferred Specification standard.
This means that to achieve SBD accreditation, products will need to be covered for both security and fire performance within a single technical schedule from an independent UK accreditation service.
Certification requires regular re-tests and production audits to ensure that product quality is assured and maintained over time and goes beyond the one-off testing required by ‘Building Regulations – Approved Document Q (Security)’ which became effective in England in October 2015. Companies need to be aware that Approved Document Q and Approved Document B (Fire) now carry equal weighting under building regulations in England.
The SBD announcement followed a letter from the Department of Communities and Local Government to chief executives of local authorities and housing associations in June 2017, which stated that doors deemed to be fire-resisting at the time of construction of the block would be satisfactory.
However, coming in the wake of the Grenfell Tower fire tragedy in London, the letter instructed, “Replace any non-fire-resisting doors (such as non-fire-resisting uPVC doors) immediately with doorsets that are third-party certified as providing at least 30-minutes’ fire resistance.”
SBD’s chief operating officer, Jon Cole, said that SBD has taken a pro-active decision for dual certification as an SBD requirement going forward. He said, “The DCLG letter is a radical change and seems to remove the ability for a door manufacturer to declare fire performance against a Global Fire Assessment or a one-off Fire Test Report.”
Although Part Q only applies to new-build developments in the housing sector, SBD has been working with manufacturers and fabricators in many other sectors, including commercial, retail, mixed use, transport, health, education, leisure and others, to overcome the possible conflicts between fire and security and bring them together.
It is a landmark change that has major implications too for the construction industry, local authorities and approved inspectors who all need to ensure that fire and security regulations work seamlessly alongside each other.
In the housing sector, the fire and security regulations are most likely to come together in developments of flats, particularly on doorsets which give access to a main building, such as communal doorsets, a doorset from an underground car park, an emergency exit to an outside area or a doorset into a flat or onto a balcony. Both regulations also apply to student accommodation clustered into groups of bedrooms (similar to that of an apartment) where they share a front entrance doorset.
SBD, which has been a staunch campaigner for improved security in buildings for nearly 30 years, is keen to help all companies that want to achieve dual certification to do so, with some companies finding the challenges of achieving this goal more difficult and daunting than others.
One company that has been proactive in working towards and has achieved dual certification is SBD member company, Gerda Security Products.
Gerda has been established in the fire safety market, specialising in the housing sector, for over 20 years and was one of the first fire doorset manufacturers to achieve third-party certification for both fire and security across its various doorset ranges. Achieving both sets of certification has led to Gerda doorsets being used in various burglary prevention and fire safety programmes throughout the UK. Research and development are at the forefront of what Gerda does and the company works proactively with its customers to determine their exact requirements.
This forward-thinking approach has led to the launch of Gerda’s new ACB product. This externally mounted access control box (ACB) is specifically designed for communal entrance doorsets in new-build, multi-occupancy residential accommodation. As well as limiting illegal access to buildings, the ACB enables the Fire Service to gain immediate entry by deactivating external and internal doors secured by electronic or electrical systems, using Gerda’s specialised key management technology.
Please see www.securedbydesign.com for further information about dual fire and security certification.
Colin Walden is the PR and communications manager at Secured by Design.