Landlords face ‘huge problems’ replacing faulty fire doors
THE NATIONAL Housing Federation (NHF) has warned that social landlords are ‘struggling to get hold of’ new fire doors, and are ‘uncertain’ about the risks posed by those that failed safety tests.
Earlier in 2018, an independent panel stated that ‘no change’ was needed to building fire safety advice after a fire door from Grenfell Tower tests recently failed police tests. That panel aimed to ‘determine whether any further action was required as a result’, and in a written statement, then Housing Secretary Sajid Javid confirmed further investigations into the doors – manufactured by Manse Masterdor, which is now no longer trading – were not recommended.
More recently, new Housing Secretary James Brokenshire updated parliament, confirming experts ‘advise the risk to public safety remains low’, though soon after that an investigation found that London councils continue to ‘scramble to replace’ tens of thousands of faulty fire doors. These latest tests came after police tests on doors used at Grenfell Tower found that they could only resist flames for 15 minutes, and not the 30 minutes expected.
In August, five suppliers’ doors failed UK performance tests, and have been withdrawn from the market. These included doors manufactured by Manse Masterdor and Masterdor Limited, Specialist Building Products Limited (trading as Permadoor), Solar Windows Limited and Birtley Group Limited.
The doors, including glazed and unglazed units as well as glazed composite doors, were tested by BRE, with each supposed to be able to withstand 30 minutes of fire, but some failing in 19 minutes. Mr Brokenshire asked the National Trading Standards body to oversee local investigations taking place.
Inside Housing has reported on the NHF’s concerns, with the federation stating that landlords of social housing blocks are facing ‘huge problems’ finding replacement fire doors, are ‘struggling’ to get hold of them and are ‘uncertain about how serious a risk models that have failed safety tests pose’. Lucy Grove, Grenfell programme lead at the NHF, commented that ‘where members use these makes, they are working to change doors. However, many housing associations are facing huge problems finding replacements. There’s a massive supply chain issue’.
Mr Brokenshire stated previously that there is evidence of a ‘broader issue across the fire door market’, but Ms Grove added: ‘The government needs to provide clarity on how widespread the problem is across the fire door market, information about how the doors failed, and how the issue will be resolved. Housing associations need this to be able to put the right safety measures in place.’
A government advice note published this week stated that ‘the systemic issues have so far been identified in the composite door industry only’, which it claims represents ‘less than 5%’ of the fire door market. A spokesperson for the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government said: ‘Nothing is more important than making sure people are safe in their homes. We are working with the industry and local authorities to make sure products being used meet the appropriate standards.’