Front Doors and Fire Regs
Q: Our development of 36 flats was built 1990. Residents have begun to enquire about replacing their individual front doors with more attractive, thermally-efficient and secure composite doors, which requires permission from our freehold-owning RMC. As company secretary and acting managing agent, I’ve tried to find ways we could help replace/upgrade everyone’s door, to ensure conformity.
Unfortunately, I’ve discovered there are NO manufacturers of doors that meet the latest post-Grenfell fire safety requirements relating only to flats above ground floor level. This is due to manufacturers deeming it uneconomically viable to put their existing products through the new fire safety tests. Hence, although owners could replace their doors (with our permission), their door fitter can only provide a FENSA certificate, and no fire safety guarantee, even though the same door would be perfectly legal as the front door to a house. I assume this is because for a house, the front door is the final exit, whereas a flat door opens to a communal hall/landing. My question is, if we allowed owners to replace their front doors with a modern composite door and obtain their FENSA certificate, would they unwittingly have difficulties selling their flat?
FPRA Chairman Bob Smytherman replies:
Front Door replacement and fire safety is a very topical issue as we recently had Fire Door Safety Week which FPRA supports every year. Since the Grenfell tragedy there has been various reviews, enquiries and suggestions for change which have all stalled due to Government being paralysed about Brexit!
The best advice I can offer is to fully comply with the lease and ensure any replacements are uniform and meet the latest standards at the time of replacement. Building Regulation standards are advancing all the time but are not retrospective, therefore compliance on the day of installation is essential.
The Fire Door Safety Week website includes lots of useful information to inform your decision-making and your Building Control Department at the council is always a useful source of free advice too.
The only issue with selling the property on I would foresee is that building regulations were not fully complied with at the time of installation, although this may be an issue if Government require the changes to be made retrospectively. There is also a potential for conflict with Fire Safety Reform Regulations as there is an ongoing requirement to ensure the ‘responsible person’ ensures the common parts are means of escape is safe in the event of a fire.
[Submitted September 2019]