INDUSTRY COMMENT VOICE OF ‘FORGOTTEN PROFESSIONALS’ MUST NOT BE LOST As part of its contribution to the Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety, commissioned following the Grenfell Tower fire tragedy, the Guild of Architectural Ironmongers (GAI) has called for the recognition of the ‘forgotten professionals’ in the construction supply chain. Here, Douglas Masterson, technical manager at the GAI, explains why he believes “the voice of these professionals must not be lost” and offers some practical advice with regard to fire doors. 10 BUILDING PRODUCTS | DECEMBER 2017 The GAI has also emphasised the importance of third party certification of fire safety products and the need for a mandatory installer registration scheme for the installation of fire doors. While we wait for Dame Judith Hackitt to release the findings of the review, it is imperative that all construction professionals who provide products that relate to fire protection, whether specifiers or manufacturers, should constantly review their own products, practices and policies. Here’s some practical advice and things to consider when it comes to fire doors in any building: Remember the importance of fire doors Correct and compliant specification is the most important part of fire door installation. Fire doors have two main roles; one is to protect property and the other is to save lives by protecting people from smoke inhalation and flames. A closed fire door contains the fire for a set period of time, providing a safe and protected escape route for people to evacuate the building and provides some protection for fire-fighters entering the building to fight the blaze. A correctly specified, installed and maintained fire door will allow the fire door to perform but The Guild of Architectural Ironmongers (GAI) is calling for recognition of the ‘forgotten professionals’ in the construction supply chain; including the re-introduction of the clerk of works role on site and compulsory use of a fully qualified architectural ironmonger. Fire door hardware and other aspects of ironmongery specification play a crucial role in fire safety and the voice of these professionals must not be lost in critical discussions on safety and standards. These are just two of the 12 recommendations presented by the GAI to the Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety, led by Dame Judith Hackitt to urgently assess the effectiveness of current building and fire safety regulations in the wake of the Grenfell Tower fire. The GAI’s response has been formed from the collective opinion of the architectural ironmongery industry, including very experienced professionals who have worked around the world on complex fire safety issues. Other recommendations include the need for mandatory fire door inspections in the UK and for larger fines for non-compliance—processes that are already in place in the USA and Australia—and a review of a wide range of documents that contain contradictions or ambiguity. There are at least 18 separate documents and legislation that are relevant to fire safety within the architectural ironmongery and the allied fire door industries that need to be clarified. Many of the standards within the industry are not mandatory for building construction, such as BS 8300 relating to accessibility, and are seen only as best practice guidance. For architects and other construction professionals, this causes confusion as to what guidelines they should be following, resulting in error and inconsistency.
Building Products December 2017
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