Saving Money, Not Lives
It’s a sad fact that many specifications are driven by price, as opposed to safety. However, in the business of fire doorsets, safety is something that you cannot compromise on.
In fact, Dame Judith Hackitt herself has been quoted to say that value engineering should be scrapped because all it does is cut quality, going on to say,
“People are looking for quick fixes, but they need to understand that root-and-branch reform is required. This has to be a turning point to bring about the culture change we need.
Currently construction safety is focused on the workforce but we need to also consider residents and the public.” Source.
This viewpoint, shared by Hackitt, is something that we at RW Joinery wholeheartedly agree with.
Today, we’ll be sharing our experiences of value engineering in doorset specification.
What Does Value Engineering in Doorset Specification Look Like?
A fire door is just one of a multitude of components. The frame, the leaf, the vision panel and the ironmongery all have their role to play in protecting users in the event of a fire.
Take away, or specify incorrectly one component away from the equation and you may invalidate the fire performance.
When faced with the prospect of specifying a large number of doorsets in a building, clients are sometimes alarmed at the cost, despite the obvious guaranteed safety.
Our worst scenario may then lead contractors to split the procurement, getting the leaf or doorframe or ironmongery (or any of the other components) from a different manufacturer (or range of manufacturers).
… all in a bid to drive costs down.
The Problem of Value Engineering in Doorset Specification
Where does it go wrong?
You have a cost issue. Although you want to buy doorsets, you have a moderate understanding on how doorsets work and by splitting the doorset procurement into separate packages you can achieve your budget.
Let’s say you decide to source your door leaf from X manufacturer, your frame from Y manufacturer and your intumescent strips from Z manufacturer and your ironmongery from your trusted supplier.
Whilst, individually, they all claim third party fire certification, you must always ask yourself:
Collectively, am I delivering a fire-rated solution?
The chances are, most probably, not.
And here’s why:
Firstly, you have a series of components all claiming third party fire certification, and this will most probably be true. The door leaf manufacturer has had his door leaf verified, as has the doorframe manufacturer, the intumescent supplier and all the ironmongery is CE marked and fire rated.
To mitigate some risk, you have even managed to get the frame supplier to groove the doorframes for intumescent strips and the door leaf supplier to manufacture and assemble the vision panels.
Does this sound familiar so far?
Let’s look at the fire certification of the door leaf. The door leaf manufacturer tested his leaf to BS476 Pt 22 and passed.
What did the frame look like that he tested his leaf with?
What was the intumescent recipe he used?
The frame manufacturer hasn’t tested his frame (because you don’t test frames independently of doorsets). But he has a standard half-hour profile that is suitable for the standard door leaves he supplies. It even comes with intumescent strips. But that might not help you with your leaf from somewhere else.
Who screws the frame together on-site?
Are the tolerances correct, the gaps between the leaf and the tight rebate?
Is the undercut correct to the location of installation?
Is the material species suitable to meet the tested leaf?
The joiner is installing the vision panels on site. Easy enough? Cut an aperture, cut the glazing beads, use an intumescent channel and a suitable fire glass…
Well, some door leaves are constructed from cores that require linings around the opening; Glazing beads can only be used to a specific range of profiles; Vision panel glazing beads need fixing at specific centres and the gauge length and angle of the fixing pins need to be to a specified criteria.
How can you check the angle of the fixing pin after it’s fitted? Did you know the angle of the pin is so critical that the fire doorsets will fail if it’s incorrect?
And we haven’t touched on the influence of ironmongery, permissible tolerance gaps, undercuts or specific installation procedures. All or any of which can negate certification.
And let’s just say you manage to get the frame or leaf manufacturer to confirm that the other component is suitable and will achieve fire certification. All good? Well, not really. It’s you, the building contractor, who takes the responsibility for the fire certification. That’s not you? Think back to Grenfell. Do you really want to be responsible for a fatality?
Seemingly ‘minor inconsistencies’ could lead to deadly consequences. What value do you want to put on that?
Here at RW Joinery, we specialise in the fire doorset system, that means endless testing, reviewing and updating certification and conforming to third party auditors for verification, meaning you can be assured that you are achieving compliance for every component, every step of the way.
If you’d like to partner with us on your next project, why not speak to one of our experts today? Or, drop us a call on 0161 480 8722.