Posts Tagged ‘Fire Door Inspection’


Every fire resistant doorset installed in Australia must be installed in accordance with the requirements of the Building Code of Australia (BCA). The current Australian Standard referred to in the BCA for Fire Resistant Doors is AS1905.1-2005 “Components for the protection of openings in fire resistant walls.

 While this article concentrates on the requirements of the fire door compliance tag, a fire door is a component of a complete doorset which includes the door leaf, or leaves, the frame (inclusive of the required frame compliance tag), hardware, seals, other attachments to the doorset (e.g. vision panels and air grilles) and the wall in which the doorset is installed including the fixing of the attachments to the door/s, the door/s to the frame and the frame to the wall.


This Blog Post is accompanied by a summary table of fire door compliance tag requirements in Australia. The table details all the relevant Australian Standards and the relevant clauses relating to fire door compliance tags. To view the table click here (sorry could not format it to fit on this Blog Post).


The fixing of a compliance tag to a fire resistant doorset has been a requirement from the initial fire door code (AS CA57, Part 1-1972) to the current time.

The door tag is an integral component of a fire-resistant doorset identifying the door and setting it apart from other doors such as solid core doors, hollow core doors and the like.

Considering this, it is clear why the compliance tag is so critical; it identifies the door as a fire-resistant door (being a component of a complete fire resistant doorset), and further gives a reference to the performance (i.e. the fire –resistant level) of the specific door.

The physical tag requirements have remained unchanged over the revisions of the relevant standards (aside from the imperial to metric changes which first appeared in the 1976 revision) but more often we are seeing tags provided by suppliers which are printed, not etched, embossed or stamped which can lead to issues in identification when tags are painted over.

Recessed or projected numbers and letters can be painted over and still be identifiable even if a solvent is used to clean the tag. This tiny little point is often missed by tag providers and this should be addressed by all who have the responsibility of manufacturing, supplying or installing compliance tags and is a clear requirement of the Standard and for good reason.

Building owners and managers should be aware of the importance of compliance tags to ensure trades such as painters are directed to treat compliance tags as they would locks and closers  and protect them prior to painting.

The fixing of the compliance tag to the door leaf is another issue. Adhesives while appropriate short term can degrade over time. This can lead to compliance tags becoming detached from the door.

Sticking a tag to a door leaf is a major contributing factor in compliance tags falling off doors and aside from the 1984 revision tags have had to be either mechanically or firmly affixed.

This small point is the bane of contention of building owners and managers who consistently see the wording “missing compliance tag, recommend new door”.

Industry providers are doing themselves an injustice in not doing these simple things to protect the end user from the premature replacement of their fire resistant doors.

The details on a compliance tag provide critical information which is used by inspectors (or should be used) to assess the fire resistant doorset during its serviceable life as it identifies the conditions by which the fire resistant doorset  was designed and should be assessed against.

These details have changed over the years so inspectors should be aware of the marking requirements for the relevant performance standard applicable to the doorset being inspected (see table above “Required Tag Details”).

If you have seen a tag in the field with the standard “AS1851” prominently displayed, this is not a compliance tag. This detail provides no assistance to the inspector of the fire-resistant doorset as it fails to provide any of the details required by AS1905.1.

Tag location is stated in general as approximate and where the placement of the tag on the hinge side of the door leaf could impact the performance of the doorset (i.e. perimeter door seals for example) there is comment to recommend the relocation of the tag to the face of the door on the top hinge side.

Who can tag a fire-resistant door has been defined since the Standard revision in 1990. In looking at the possibility of retagging a fire-resistant door which has lost its compliance tag, we must firstly satisfy ourselves that we are able to.

For doorsets manufactured and installed prior to 1990, the Standard provided no definition as to who could tag a fire-resistant doorsets and as such it would be reasonable to assume that doorsets of this era are able to be tagged by anyone who could satisfy the requirements of assessing the installation and making the determinations required by the relevant code at the time the doorset was manufactured and installed.

For doorsets installed between 1990 and 1997, the definition provided for who can tag a fire-resistant doorset was defined as “The Supplier”, defining the supplier as the sponsor of the test on the prototype fire-resistant doorset who certifies that the doorset, when installed, complies with the Standard. Considering this definition, to retag a doorset manufactured and installed during this time you would have to identify the core of the door to then identify the “Sponsor”. Additional to this would be your ability to identify the year of manufacture and installation.

For doorsets installed since 1997 the manufacturer or certifier has been defined as the allowing tagging entity. To tag a doorset manufactured and installed in this period you would have to be able to identify who the original manufacturer of the door was in order to seek their authorization to retag a fire-resistant doorset.

The issue of being able to retag a fire-resistant doorset is a hot topic with companies on both sides of the fence. The issue of “should you retag a fire door” is not discussed in this article and it is incumbent on individuals making claims of being able to retag fire-resistant doorsets that they can do so in accordance with the requirements of the Standards.

As with the physical requirements of a tag, documentation has been a requirement since 1972. The details of documents and the form in which they are provided has changed over revisions but in general, a “schedule of evidence” or “evidence of compliance with the code” has been required. An example of the documentation to be provided is given at the back of most Standard revisions.

A NOTE ON ASBESTOS

A common practice for identifying a fire-resistant doorset is to remove the lockset to expose the inner core of the door. By exposing the core an experienced individual may be able to identify the type of core and the potential manufacturer or sponsor/applicant.

If you do undertake this practice please be mindful that fire doors manufactured up until the early 1980’s were predominantly manufactured using asbestos as the core material. Removing the lockset can lead to exposure to asbestos fibres and should be avoided at all costs. If you suspect that a door may contain asbestos then it would be advised that the appropriate controls are put in place prior to removing the lockset to ensure exposed asbestos is contained.

Table below summarises State and Territory Acts and Regulations with respect to working with Asbestos.

State / Territory Act Regulations
QLD Workplace Health and Safety Act 1995 Workplace Health and Safety Regulations 2008
NSW Occupational Health and Safety Act 2000 Occupational Health and Safety Regulations 2001
ACT Work Safety Act 2008 Work Safety Legislation Amendment Act 2009 Dangerous Substances (General) Regulations 2004
VIC Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 Occupational Health and Safety Regulations 2007
TAS Workplace Health and Safety Act 1995 Workplace Health and Safety Regulations 1998
SA Occupational Health, Safety and Welfare Act 1986 Occupational Health, Safety and Welfare (SafeWork SA) Amendment Act 2005 Occupational Health, Safety and Welfare Regulations 1995
WA Occupational Safety and Health Act 1984 Occupational Safety and Health Regulations 1996
NT Workplace Health and Safety Act 2007 Workplace Health and Safety Regulations 2008

(Source http://www.asbestosaustralia.com.au/ )

Fire Door

One of the main issues with fire doors is identifying what a door is when the only information you have available is the door itself, no records and no compliance tag. This problem exists for the manufacturer trying to counter a warranty claim, a service company wanting to undertake repairs, a building/facility owner needing to provide certification to an authority etc.

In relation to passive fire protection, such as fire doors, data is king. Knowing what a door is provides the essential information needed to certify and properly service and maintain the fire door throughout its life.

Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology is a very flexible technology which in essence provides a truly unique identification to an individual item. Having a means to uniquely identify items then allows us the power to then follow this item throughout its usable life and beyond.

This means that not only can we follow an item but we can also maintain an accurate audit trail of the item and all things which have occurred to it during its life. These things could be original manufacturing details, warranty conditions, approvals, service visits, photos of modifications etc.

Through the utilization of a central data store we can associate any amount of information against the unique identification of an item and not only associate any amount of data against it but also recall the information as and when required.

The ability to combine RFID technology with central data stores is further expanded with the use of an internet based portal providing access to the central data store. This ability then gives rise to information being readily available around the world regardless of location through a standard internet browser or via a portable mobile device.

Examples of what we can achieve with RFID

The following are examples of the application of RFID technology for the fire door industry. This is only a short list of the possibilities of this technology for not only the fire door industry but any industry.

Proof of product
  • Identify an item with a RFID Tag containing a unique identifier
  • Through an internet portal upload documentation relating to each product type
  • Through a portable hand held device, scan the RFID Tag and enter the manufacturing details of the product
    • E.g. Type, size, colour, shape etc
  • Write data directly to the products RFID tag
  • At any time, scan the product RFID tag and retrieve the data relating to the product as referenced against the unique identifier
  • Allow authorities access to read data directly contained on the product RFID tag e.g. manufacturer, compliance details etc
Product Certification
  • Prior to installation scan the product RFID tag and obtain the details of the product and ensure they are correct for the intended installation
  • As details are held in the data store automate the generation of certificates and schedules relating to product evidence and compliance
Proof of Attendance
  • Using portable devices to record the undertaking of inspection activities, the inspection can be designed to only occur if a successful scan of the product RFID tag is undertaken which by default requires the technician to be in close proximity of the products RFID tag
  • If a product RFID tag is not scanned the system can allow the technician to proceed with the inspection but will send a status back to the central data store detailing that the product was not scanned to initiate the inspection activity
Remote data capture and data transfer
  • Individual product maintenance requirements can be provided for each individual product or type of product and held in the central data store
  • By scanning a products RFID tag the device software can communicate with the central data store and display the maintenance requirements for the specific product scanned
Monitoring activities
  • Establish routine inspection dates for a product and have the central data store advise when things should be done or when things are not done when due
  • Get alerts when warranties are due to expire so you an pro actively contact the client and see if they want ongoing service post warranty
Automated reporting and notifications
  • Let the central data store crunch the data so you don’t have to
  • Generate inspection reports based on data captured in the field
  • Generate door schedules based on data held in the data store
  • Automatically generate a report every time an event happens e.g. on warranty expiry send an automated email to the client advising them the warranty period is over and for any future issues contact company x, y or z

Is RFID an answer for the fire door industry? I believe it is.

RFID technology is a way we can finally and comprehensively address identification issues in relation to fire doors and further provide added benefits to all stake holders who are involved with the manufacture, supply, installation, services and certification of fire doors by providing a comprehensive product history from manufacture to disposal.

Through the use of RFID technology we can build further integrity into the industry and protect the safety of people in buildings and facilities and also minimise the risk of premature product replacement.

 


If you found this article useful or otherwise please provide comments or suggestions so I can improve on future posts.

(the information in this blog entry relates to fire doors in Australia with relevant Australian Standards being AS1905.1, AS1530.4 and AS1851)

I was recently involved in a project where a service company inspected fire doors and subsequently informed the building owner that a substantial number of fire doors would have to be replaced due to non complying hardware being installed.

This is not necessarily an issue but from the client’s perspective, the building had been inspected and certified for over a decade without issue and only now was the compliance of the hardware raised as a possible issue.

To the client the recommendation of the service provider was questionable. Was the current report correct (and the last decade non compliant doors in situ) or, was the report incorrect? The answer to this question had enormous financial implications and as such the building owner sought further clarification.

I was contacted by the building owner to investigate the situation and provide advice based on what we could discover. Was the hardware compliant or not?

From initial investigations it was clearly evident that there was a lack of documentary evidence held by the building owner in relation to the originally installed fire doors. Having no door schedule, from a service perspective it would have been difficult if not impossible to adequately service the installed fire doors as the fire test report references for the installed fire doors was not known.

The majority of doors did however have compliance tags fitted to the door leaves identifying the manufacturer and from investigations in relation to the details on these tags documentary evidence was eventually located supporting the compliance of the original installation (this however is not always possible).

As a side issue, this investigation also outlined an issue whereby service companies in the past had installed upgrade seals to doorsets to rectify clearance issues. While a number of door types have been tested and approved for use of these seal systems, one door type identified at this site was found to have no such approvals in place (a door manufactured and tested prior to the invention of the upgrade seal system). As the seals had not been tested on the door type, the installation of the seals on these door types was in clear contradiction to the requirements of the Standards.

This revelation identified a clear issue in that the inspectors and repairers of these doors over the past decade did not have adequate knowledge of the approved items which could be fitted to the doorset installed, or if they did, disregarded the Standard requiring only tested and approved components be installed.

This failure has inadvertently left the building owner in a difficult position. They have unknowingly accepted repairs to their fire doors over time which are not compliant and have never been compliant.

The seals may in fact work on this type of door but under the Standards the seals have to be tested before this can be done. This testing confirms that by the inclusion of these seals on this type of door that the integrity of the door type is maintained and not diminished.

The final observation from this investigation was the fact that annual fire safety certificates (NSW regulatory requirement)  had been issued for the property year in year out even though non compliant issues in relation to the fire doors laid, and still lay, dormant.

From my investigations into this matter some concerning issues arise;

  • Lack of understanding as to why documentary evidence is so important
  • Availability of fire test approval documentation
  • Failure to properly identify, inspect and maintain fire resistant doorsets (a product no doubt of the licensing requirements, or lack there of in the case of fire doors

(While some States of Australia do have licensing requirements for individuals or companies working in the fire door industry, NSW does not currently have any requirement for licensing of individuals or companies involved in the certification, service or repair of fire doors. Courses are available through Registered Training Organizations but these courses are not mandatory under the current regulatory framework. The Fire Industry is working hard to see changes in this area. Lookup the Fire Protection Association of Australia if you want to know a little more about available training for people working in the fire door industry.)

  • Lack of knowledge in relation to approved hardware, seals, components etc which can be fitted to a particular type of fire resistant doorset
  • Lack of knowledge in relation to the general requirements of the Standards and how they apply to fire resistant doorsets, and components fitted to fire resistant doorsets
  • Lack of enforcement by regulatory authorities (NSW regulatory frame work, some other States in Australia are much more proactive in this regard), not in ensuring that certificates are provided but that they are a true and correct representation of the actual status of the installed fire resistant doorsets
  • Could insurers reduced or refused claims if issues such as these were identified following an event such as a fire where there was a loss of property or worse still a loss of life?

At the end of the day, essential services (such as fire doors, exit lighting, sprinklers, hose reels, smoke detectors etc)  are installed and maintained for the purpose of protecting life and minimizing property damage. Generally their importance is not recognized until they are needed and when they are needed, (if you are holding a fire hose or a fire extinguisher, if you are running to an exit in a smoke filled room, if you are going down the fire stairs past floors engulfed in fire) you should have the confidence that these services, installed for your protection, will in fact work and that you will be able to safely exit a building.


If you found this article useful or otherwise please provide comments or suggestions so I can improve on future posts.