'Borderline national crisis' in fire safety, says BWF-CERTIFIRE chairman

Published:  30 November, 2015

The new chairman of the UK's largest fire door certification scheme has sounded a stark warning about fire safety in UK buildings.

David Oldfield, head of joinery at Arnold Laver, has been voted as chairman of the BWF-CERTIFIRE Scheme.

Mr Oldfield said safety had seen major breakthroughs in recent years thanks to the improvement and simplification of third-party certification of fire doors, and the work of the Fire Door Inspection Scheme (FDIS). However, he is still very worried about a culture of complacency among those responsible for specifying, installing and maintaining passive fire protection measures such as fire doors.

In particular, he pointed to recent research by FDIS which discovered that 61% of fire doors inspected had problems with fire or smoke seals, and news that fines for breaches of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order, which includes fire door failures, reached almost £1m this year.

The '75 facts about fire' produced by the BWF-CERTIFIRE Scheme for this year's Fire Door Safety Week also showed a dossier of safety failures across the country.

"The scale of the problem is huge and appears to affect every sector and every type of building we use, work and live in," said Mr Oldfield. "The state of the nation's fire doors is a borderline national crisis. The fire door industry and its close partners across construction and fire safety services need to continue to work together to ensure critical messages about fire door safety reach our customers, but also echo in the corridors of power – change needs to be driven from the top.

"The message is simple: ensure the right product is specified and installed correctly, and that means a third-party certificated product. Anything less is an unnecessary and unacceptable risk."

Mr Oldfield takes to the helm of the BWF-CERTIFIRE Scheme just as new regulations on the CE marking of fire door sets are being implemented.

He will be working closely with scheme manager Hannah Mansell to engage with members, clients and policy makers to develop new plans to extend the impact of the Fire Door Safety Week campaign, to increase the reach of the fire door online training modules, and the distribution of the BWF-CERTIFIRE's comprehensive Best Practice Guide.

He said he also wants to raise the profile of the scheme, particularly among small building firms and the merchant sector. "Coming from an Arnold Laver background really means that I do understand the problem from a number of different perspectives," he said.

Mr Oldfield replaces David Paxton, technical director at Premdor.

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