Deciding Between Repair and Replacement: A Balanced Approach to Fire Door Maintenance

There have been some major works undertaken in the last few years with the replacement of fire doors, and in a lot of cases rightly so, and it could be said any improvements bringing building assets under current certification is not a bad thing.

Though, I do wonder if the some of the money could have been spent better in the way of reducing risk across an entire housing stock. 

Does a combination of repairs and replacement works provide a measured approach to reducing risk, whilst implementing and demonstrating a robust ‘system of maintenance’?

We have witnessed large scale projects being undertaken, but leaving other buildings at a significant risk level that possibly through some thought and investigation could be dramatically reduced.

I was recently told during a discussion around this subject that a complete overhaul had mitigated the risk entirely, I would have to say “not quite” as whilst the risk had been dramatically reduced there is always an element of risk.

I am surprised at the number of organisations that are completing large-scale planned work schemes yet don’t have a ‘system of maintenance’ in place.

Implementing a robust, practical and accessible system of maintenance can be easily implemented, the system will highlight and enable a prioritisation of works required.

Looking at the processes, it would make sense that a stock condition survey is completed of the fire doors, the first thing that need to happen before the fire doors are inspected is to have the Fire Risk Assessment of the buildings available and issued to the appointed fire door inspector.

The fire door reports should be sufficiently detailed to allow the ‘responsible person(s)’ to make an informed decision with regards replacing doors or completing suitable maintenance.

To support this decision-making process there are some key points to remember.

  1. If the door cannot be clearly identified and the is no supporting evidence of how the door was installed or who supplied the door, the door cannot be declared to have a particular fire rating as declared under today’s certifications. However, the Door maybe a notional or nominal door and as such this may be acceptable to the FRA. 
  2. An intrusive survey may show inadequate fire stopping and therefore remediation works should be undertaken, remembering to record what materials have been used during remediation works. A door that is sealed can be shown as sealed but not as fire stopped if there is no record of the installation process and materials used.  
  3. Explore and speak with organisations and material suppliers with regards repairs, understand repair techniques and ask for supporting fire test evidence to understand any limitations of the process or materials to be used.

Once the stock condition surveys are complete, a measured approach to replace or repair can be taken. It is understood that this task, in some circumstances is enormous and there are always some instant improvements that can be made and some large door replacement schemes have been the only option. It is worth remembering that all of the new doors fitted will need to feed into the ‘system of maintenance’ and therefore a single source of data will much improve and streamline the entire compliance processes around your fire doors.  

At Door Data Systems we work with organisations of varying sizes and whilst the volumes and challenges may differ the fundamental requirements of instigating a ‘system of maintenance’ stays the same.

The ‘Golden Thread’ for fire safety is all about making information instantly available for those who need it, when they need it, and a digital platform (Door Data Systems) will provide a single point of golden thread data, allow considered decisions to be made, record the entire lifecycle of doors from new installs or stock condition to end of life.

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