Since the discovery that a glass-reinforced plastic (GRP) composite fire door from Grenfell Tower marketed as meeting a 30-minute standard failed a test after approximately 15 minutes, the Government have led a programme of work to investigate fire door performance across the market in the interest of public safety and reassurance. Today I am updating the House on actions taken.
Following consultation with representatives from the Metropolitan Police, the Government’s chief scientific advisors and the National Fire Chiefs’ Council, the Government’s independent expert panel advised that, while the overall risk to public safety was low, further investigations should be undertaken into other GRP composite fire door manufacturers.
During testing, a sample of GRP composite fire doors from nine manufacturers failed to meet the required fire performance standard. The sample of fire doors failed for a range of reasons including but not restricted to performance at the glazing unit, letter box and the door frame. There was some evidence of over reliance on written assessments being used in lieu of primary tests for significant changes in hardware and ironmongery, and for the reverse side of the door. These findings clearly indicated broader failings within the industry. The Government therefore took further urgent action.
My Department wrote to all building control bodies highlighting the need to check that existing building regulations guidance on new GRP composite fire door installations is followed. The guidance sets out the tests which should be performed— including testing on both sides of the door—to meet building regulation requirements.
My Department also notified Trading Standards of the test results and local Trading Standards are working with the individual companies concerned.
On 28 July I instructed major GRP composite fire door manufacturers to meet urgently to agree actions to tackle the failings which have been identified. As a result, the following actions have been taken:
In August 2018, the three companies providing GRP composite fire door blanks in the UK agreed to stop production and sale of any door blanks with immediate effect. This stopped any new GRP composite fire doors from entering the market.
In August the Association of Composite Door Manufactures (ACDM) further agreed that all GRP composite fire doors sold from their members would be removed from the market until they could demonstrate meeting the required standard. This stopped any fire doors from ACDM members already in production leaving factories.
In August the ACDM established a collaborative testing programme to facilitate manufacturers bringing quality product meeting the required standard back to market. The ACDM provided assurance that all products brought back to market will have the required furnace test report for both sides of the door before being sold.
The ACDM also agreed that all members of the ACDM will be required to sign up to a third-party accreditation scheme carrying out additional checks on their fire doors to drive up quality across the market.
All GRP composite manufacturers with a failed test are consulting their customers to establish an effective new building safety risk assessment. At least one manufacturer has gone beyond this providing a dedicated telephone helpline for their customers and offering meetings to help customers understand the situation.
The ACDM is working on an industry-led plan for repair and replacement of affected doors. The ACDM is working closely with my Department on its plan to ensure it can be published by industry as soon as possible.
As well as work to encourage industry action, my Department has liaised closely with social housing building owners to ensure that they have been kept up to date with the fire doors investigation. To facilitate this, it has established a mechanism for local authorities and housing associations confidentially to share test results from fire door testing to inform building risk assessments and support our investigation.
Manse Masterdor, the manufacturers of the door from Grenfell Tower, went into administration in November 2014 and is therefore not part of the wider industry action outlined above. My Department has been working closely with local authorities and housing associations with Manse Masterdor GRP composite fire doors in their buildings regarding replacement of these doors.
In parallel, the expert panel has issued guidance for building owners looking to fit or replace fire doors, which can be found on the building safety programme website. The summary results of the GRP composite tests to inform building risk assessment are also now available on the building safety programme website.
I can confirm that the expert panel advice remains unchanged and the risk to public safety remains low as even when not meeting full resistance standards fire doors will provide some protection from the spread of fire and are part of a layered fire protection systems within buildings.
The National Fire Chiefs Council continue to advise that, in the event of a fire, people should follow existing fire procedures for the building. Residents should also test their smoke alarms regularly to ensure they work and ensure that their flat front door is fitted with a working self-closing device. All doors provide some essential protection in a fire if they are properly closed.
I want to reassure hon. Members that my Department is doing all it can as quickly as possible to properly investigate these issues and to make sure that where needed appropriate action will be taken.
On the advice of the expert panel, investigations are ongoing into the timber fire door industry. Public safety is paramount and I will continue to keep the House updated.