Construction pre-DCW BIM4HOUSING AT DIGITAL CONSTRUCTION WEEK
ELLIOTT DAWSON …2 or 3 letters to state that you're trying to gain access and then you have data capture that you've actually been and carried out a visual inspection of what you can see then that would be adequate. Now, ideally, as we know, you need to do your maintenance call from the inside so you can double check the door closer. You can fully inspect all the margins on the door. That would be the standard prerequisite required on a maintenance call. You have to inspect every single door. You have to have shown, as part of your maintenance guide, that you have attempted to maintain every single door, because obviously as you're aware in a fire you're only as strong as your weakest point, and if you haven't inspected every door, if one door isn't compliant, that can let the fire into the main access routes.
GEORGE Yeah, I appreciate that, all I’m saying is that the way I believe fire door inspections are actually managed is that they'll pick a percentage, do a percentage, and then if they find a problem they’ll go further. I’m not saying that’s right or wrong, Elliott, I’m talking about what seems to be normal practice.
ELLIOTT DAWSON Well, that isn’t what I would…I’m not saying that's not normal practice because we don't deal with the maintenance arm, but as a manufacturer I would be very disappointed/appalled if that’s what’s happening, because it’s not something you can take an average on because every tenant will treat their door differently and there are lots of different variables on that door that could potentially go wrong. So you couldn’t…It's not like a piece of ducting or something that you could take five different measurements along the ducting and go well, this appears to be thinner in one part than the other, therefore we’ll inspect all the different parts because it's a continuous piece of tubing. This is a completely bespoke product that is treated differently by everybody who uses it. And the variables are there and disaster, as I've said, is only one weakest link away.
GEORGE No, I appreciate that. Have we sent to you, I think you were in my group 1 which was inspecting new doors, have you had a chance to just check…
ELLIOTT DAWSON To be honest, it’s remiss of me, I haven’t. I’ve taken over as the sales director for the entire group, so I've been absolutely snowed under, but I will have some time to review that document and come back to you. I think we did capture a lot in the group that that we talked through. As ever there is just slightly different nuances between architect, manufacturer, and installer, as you can imagine, it's not always never the twain shall meet, but sometimes you do get differences. And to be perfectly honest, I know quite a bit about legislation, but there are people in these groups that literally live and breathe it every single day, so I do sometimes bow to their greater knowledge. But I just know what we have to conform to as a manufacturer.
GEORGE Would anybody else, rather than dumping on your shoulders, be able to look at the Type 3 surveys, which is the regular inspections?
ELLIOTT DAWSON I could filter that down to, because obviously we have a fabricator base. We don't make the doors ourselves or install them, we are the custodian of the product. So I could filter that down, and we have a Type 3 maintenance if you like, which is just the bog standard BM Trada Type 3. What they would consider as their maintenance. That's what we've put on our system for our data tag, so that is the stipulations that they have to follow.
GEORGE And do you think they would be able to provide photographs that we could then use in the guide? You’ll be credited. It would just be good to have some photographs that aren’t from healthcare.
ELLIOTT DAWSON Do you mean photographs of doors in situ? Well, as we move on 100% we will be able to. I don’t know if they’ve got any at the moment, I can certainly ask.
RICHARD It’s not just the door in situ, it is particular elements of the inspection. So it won’t be just a picture of the whole door, it could be a picture of something they’re inspecting.
ELLIOTT DAWSON Our guides will be expected to show 3 or 4 different pictures. One of the entire door which will have the door closer on. It will have the door in situ to show there's no damage, and then a couple of the others will be regarding the threshold and the margins around the door. That's primarily what they will be looking for.
GEORGE (shares screen). The guy that’s coordinating the work for us is Alan Oliver, he’s the author of this. Paul Bray from Plymouth pointed me at the guidance that's come out from the government and when I went into it, it's actually got Alan’s examples. You see what he’s got here to indicate what damage is and all that sort of stuff. So, if we could get some…
ELLIOTT DAWSON So you are looking for domestic pictures rather than commercial.
GEORGE It’s a matter of doing a sanity check on the text. Alan's gone through and taken out where the references to healthcare buildings, but your chaps will have a better understanding, just to see if there is anything daft in here. So, this text here is what has been issued. What it is, Paul, it’s guidance that’s been produced by the NHS, and it’s all the senior people involved in it, the National Fire Chiefs Council and all the rest. They’ve broken down fire door inspections into 3 types. 1 is checking a new fire door to make sure it’s compliant, then checking an existing fire door to make sure it’s compliant, and both of those, once that’s been done, you should never need to do a Type 1 or a Type 2 again, as long as you keep your records correct. And then you’ve got a Type 3, which is the ongoing service and Section 4 is putting that into a fire door management system. we’ve had 50 people involved in the last 3 months. Our objective is to take this document, which is pretty good, and just make sure that it’s relevant to housing. Elliott is a fire door manufacturer, he’s been helping on new door inspections. Paul McSoley’s particular expertise is in the M&E element of things and smoke control and things like that.
PAUL McSOLEY (shares screen). Me and Paul White did a big exercise a while ago, he’s the chief protagonist of fire dampers and smoke control. We’re trying to get to the point where everyone recognises that you don’t have to test fire doors in both directions by standard, you have to do it for national regulations, not by standards. Whereas dampers you have to test both ways because they’re automatically classed as asymmetrical in the standard whereas doors are not classed as asymmetrical. In national regs you’ve got to make sure they’re tested both ways around. So, we look at all these things like doors, pipe work and stuff and things like that. If you look at pipe work, people think it’s fairly straightforward. What we did for Public health for CIBSE this year, we presented this, I sit and this group and do a lot of work around process working. When you look at how complicated fire dampers are…we looked at the process for selecting one damper and one wall, and that’s what it came out as. And that is as simple as you could make it. If you look at fishbone and stuff, that’s what it is, but it’s done in a different format. How you look to get the risk of the space, how that effects the resistance classification you need, for doors it could be an E rating, a W rating for a glass part of it etc. Then you’ve got kit that sits on the door which has all got its own testing parameters, there’s a lot to it. So, for doors I’d expect this to be fucking enormous.
When we looked at smoke control ducts and fire resistant ducts, we haven’t finished this one off, it’s gong to get bigger. You can see how complicated it is. It’s all about getting the space risk and system, how it operates, because everything’s got ways to describe it. is it dynamic, is it performing a function like a smoke control system or sprinkler, it’s doing an active part. or is it transient, a fire door is transient because you walk through it. It could be open, swing both ways. It’s getting into a different language where you go…to be quite frank, the industry is full of very uneducated people. I don’t mean that to be disrespectful, but the knowledge is not very good. I’ve often joked when I’ve done lectures and said if you put a ? 14mins 35secs on a table and the instruction says remove cap and push up bottom, I don’t know where they’re going to put it. That’s the industry that you work in. it’s all based on space risk. So some things are static like pipe work, but when you take pipe work it goes through a wall, so it’s a horizontal component in a vertical wall.
When you take fire dampers (I’ve got the diagram here), they’re a vertical device in a vertical wall. So it’s not the same V and H, they’re opposed, pipe work would be horizontal, this would be vertical. So, there are nuances around all these components when you look at things as a system. So when you get back to this you go, well, the system approach is understanding what goes in it, and the wall itself and its ability to house it all, whether it’s the hole sizes, the amount of holes within it, and actually whether it is the appropriate substrate in the first place, because I’m sure some fire doors will only work in brick and block and some will work in both.
ELLIOTT DAWSON We’ve tested in several different substrates. We’ve tested in dry wall, we’ve tested in brick, we’ve tested in block, we’ve tested in stud. The only thing we haven’t tested in is nofines, and that’s occasionally what comes up and we have to walk away from those projects.
PAUL McSOLEY I need some help developing the flow chart for doors. What we’re trying to do with PFKG, when you look at pipe work you’ve got to go what do you need to select in relation to the material to know what it is. You’ve got to know actually whether it’s continuous through the wall and the same material for the next compartment, or if one material changes to another and it goes through the wall and which direction that is, or whether it’s basically a pipe that goes through the wall which is uncapped and uncapped. So it could be a steel tube going through a wall and someone’s put plastic either side of it, that becomes an ? 18mins 03secs, it will never pass, it will fail. So there’s things like this I have to consider. I need to know the material and the bore thickness, especially when it comes down to combustible pipes because it doesn’t always crush the thicker bore pipes if it’s been tested on a thinner bore. And the reaction to fire of the plastic is important because it’s no good putting it on a polyethylene pipe and its got a reaction to fire of F but the one it was tested on was B, it’s gonna flame through the wall and set the other room on fire.
And these are the questions that don’t get asked, because as a Tier 1 contractor I’ve called us out and gone, you know what, screw the product manufacturers, we don’t know what we’re doing. We don’t know how we get to what’s appropriate for the circumstances before you even get down to doing inspections. Essentially we’ve got to get to a point where we can get people to behave, which is the procurement piece by David Mosely, how people behave around it, how you workbook out what’s appropriate for the circumstances. Because there’s 5 QA points, the building type and risk of the space, because that will vary. If you look at it from a fire door perspective there’s nothing worse, when you do the big unveiling, like Picasso, and someone goes ‘What’s that?’ and he goes ‘of course it fucking looks like her’. It's got to be linked back to what the risk of the space was initially. Was it sleeping risk, was it phased evacuation, is it an open riser across user groups, because that’s an S rating any day of the week (not an E rating). is it an explosive atmosphere, because if so you might want an I rating on a door regardless of 25% of the volume of the wall. In George.s terms, it’s about getting the ontology right. So you go do you know if it’s transient or static you can tell how it operates, because you’ve got DDA in security on doors, you might have sheer locks, mortice red locks, Z brackets.
Then you can classify against all those parameters, so you get a number for what it actually should be based upon the risk of the space. Then you can compare wall type what else is in the wall, which is that system approach, because it’s no good having a door that works in a a drywall just to find out I've got a 2.2 meter by 1 meter duct that goes through it and BG won't support the size because it’s going back to block and you find your door is only tested in drywall, because they'll just go Mr. door manufacture, you haven’t done your coordination. it’s bollocks, that’s why it’s all going wrong. Then you can go how do you install it. So, we know for things like dampers you need to have enough space to form the seal both sides, you’ve got to have access doors for cleaning, its got breakaway joints. I’ve got walls on drawings showing right next to the ducts. And actually, because I've got to clean it, I still need a door, I can't ignore it. So, this is giving proper guidance back to manufacturers, clients and architects to select things appropriately. And obviously there’s 2 things in relation to the digital side of it is that to get the BIM side right and what’s involved in putting it in Uniclass I think will take a lot longer to get it right than I thought it would do because I need to record in BIM…when you look at the frame types of dampers, getting back to your thing about primary inspections, that’s your primary inspection for that type of damper case that exists on the market, that’s what I need to record on the first inspection.
I've recorded it all out in a format to enable people to do that, and this stuff will be coming out in documents, eventually it will get released for everyone to use. i think it will take a while before that’s all in Uniclass in the asset information properly because it’s bloody immense when you look at what you’ve got to try and record. I think what’ll end up happening is that when we do these process sheets to get to that appropriate product to get down to actually that’s what it is, so that location, obviously you’ve got to compare all the component parts. That will transfer into the builders work schedules initially and end up with a schedule that shows what all the parameters of that selection is in that location, at least initially it has digitally recorded what it was, so it’s hard to break that thread. In time, when we get the BIM to catch up or they all transfer into the BIM, it will become a lot more intelligent with things like AI.
GEORGE Yeah. I think one of the challenges is that everybody at the moment is seeing that this information needs to be collected uniquely each time and therefore it's just completely overwhelming and it won't happen. I think what we've got to do is differentiate between what is static information and what is active information and what I mean by that is the information that, for example, Elliott would have about his doors, if that's a product it's been tested, then the information on that I think probably would be static. In other words you’ve got it that’s defined and therefore if you install 100 or 1000 fo those doors the information is going to be the same. The thing that’s going to be different is what is done to that door to put it in the right context. So, maybe it’s got a couple of additional elements that make it appropriate for that door type. It may be that Elliott’s door is being used in a number of different things. The point about this is that if we can differentiate between the static stuff and the stuff that needs to be collected each time, then it means that list that you've just shown earlier can be very, very substantially simplified.
PAUL McSOLEY Yeah, I’m totally with you. I’m dragging you in, George, to PFKG very soon because to get to the point where you’ve got a way in which it goes, Elliott, how the information is presented to you generally is can I have a fire door please, mate. I’m trying to get to a point where people go to manufacturers and ask the things in a better way. The manufacturer goes, actually, this is what I’ve got, you go and you’re meeting up and ones not speaking Italian and ones not speaking German and you’re both speaking Italian, you know what you’re doing. That’s the bit I’m trying to get married up.
ELLIOTT DAWSON With fire doors, you’ve got the variables. I like to strip it back to the BIM system where we as a manufacturer produce our door which has all its accreditations and test results exposed. So in BIM, for example, we’ve got our door set up so it has our min and max sizes, it has max opening sizes, it had all the wall substructure that it can go into and then if an architect picks it they know that the substructure that that’s going into, it’s tested to whatever bidirectionally 30 minutes and these are the bits you'll need to put with it to make it comply. If a builder or developer came to us and said we want a fire door, we take it on ourselves. We do not just sell fire doors to anybody. We would then do either a survey or we would ask the pertinent questions. I suppose, where you're coming from is how doyou standardise those pertinent questions.
PAUL McSOLEY I think it is. George originally, you take the credit for this, went it’s all about space risk. Once you know what the space risk is you can identify E and S requirement. Then your I requirement again can be about space risk as well, not just the volume of the wall. We did it for dampers in relation to…
GEORGE Just for Cliff’s benefit, as I understand it, Paul, S rating stands for smoke.
PAUL McSOLEY Yeah, S resistance period, it’s 200. I integrity, I didn’t call it integrity, I called it fire because it’s more palatable, Insulation, and radiance is W. There is other things involved, structures got an R rating because it’s about malleability, it’s different. I haven’t put R on here because I’m not dealing with steel beams just yet. What I’m trying to do is get it all into the same format to enable an idiot sheet for people to do selection, the damper ones all gone through TG6, we’re all happy this is right, it’s gonna go out on the website. George, you’ll get all this through, and the original Power points as well. Digital Construction Week, are we doing it?
GEORGE Yeah, on the 18th.
ELLIOTT DAWSON Just to let you guys know, I don’t know if you’ve got anything planned in for Firex, but we’ll be exhibiting there. We’re going to be hosting, we’ve just passed all our UKCA markings, so we’re the only fire door provider that can give a UKCA marked external fire door.
PAUL McSOLEY I’m gonna have to shoot. Elliott, drop me a mail and we’ll have a chat…I don’t mind doing the heavy lifting, because if you look at this in respect what it does is it gives you all the frame types, the risk categories, it’s all there to select.
GEORGE Paul, what we're trying to do for the event is figure out what information is needed for us to satisfy the building safety case.So at one level, we've got landlords and they perceive all they need to do is make sure that Elliott provides them a test certificate. On the other hand, what you're doing here, you're saying that what we need is to ensure that it's been designed properly, it’s been installed properly, etc. Now, my understanding is therefore that as far as you're concerned f you are called in by the regulator for a project that is then going through Gateway 2, for example, before you go into construction, you would need to be evidencing that you've actually got this. If the regular asked the questions you need to be able to evidence that it's been done properly, am I right?
PAUL McSOLLEY Yeah, correct. And I’ll have a chat with Joe Sealy and Iain Mcilwee because i don’t mind having some of this stuff displayed, because we’re doing this in the other hall for PFKG, I don’t think there’s going to be a drama to transfer this into what you’re doing. We’re doing all the peer reviews on this with RIBA at the moment around these 5 key principles. The other bit to show you is the 7 QA points, because everyone’s going on about this but it’s all these bits before it that’s missing. Once you’ve got the known parameters then you can do the rest of it. It’s that first bit you can’t do because you’re not fire engineers, that’s the problem. And the fire engineers can’t do it and neither can the architects, that’s why it’s all going tits up. I’ll have a chat with Joe, because I’ve got to respond to his walls as a system thing, you have a chat with Iain and if you want, George, I’ll get these sent over and you can incorporate them.
GEORGE Yeah, definitely. I’ll pick up with Elliott and explain what we’re doing at BIS and with Balfour Beatty, Martin’s on board with the whole product library approach. I spoke to London Underground this morning and they’re interested as well. We’ve got some big clients and contractors engaged in it.
PAUL McSOLEY I know the main guy from London Underground because we were the ones that made them get the approved product library and change it to product library because it was all wrong. I’ve got all of his documents, the library didn’t comply with their own documentation. We caused a right stink, we did.
GEORGE What we’re trying to do is make it so we’ve got a simple way of achieving that golden thread. I learn so much every time we have these sessions. Paul’s shown me that several times and every time he shows it to me I get an extra 10% or 20% understanding because there’s just so much there.
ELLIOTT DAWSON I get the impression we're trying to almost cure or solve the unsolvable. There is almost too much for everybody to consider when putting these things together. It’s stripping it back sometimes to its simplest form. It is, right, what components are going where and how do they interact together and if you have the BIM system where you’ve got a suite of products you could almost do with it in the background letting the machine do the work. So you p[lug in your product and what it’s tested in and tested to and then that almost gives you a spit out at the front. If you’re gonna build this high-rise block of flats you’re gonna have to use that door with that wall with that ducting, and it’s almost done for them.
GEORGE Yeah, I think the aspiration to do that is good in principle, but I’ve been doing this for 30 years and part of the challenge isn’t the technology, it’s actually getting the knowledge into a structured and addressable form that could do that. And apart from that also look at the business processes. So, for example, you were saying earlier about your BIM objects and you’ve got some BIM objects that designers can use to place in their models. I can be reasonably confident that people won’t use those, no matter how good they are. There’s two reasons for that, one is the way people use applications like Revit is they’ll use the standard families that they work with on a day-to-day basis because they’ve already got them configured and used on different projects.
The second reason is that the way that design & build works at the moment, we’re still not there in getting specifications to be moved from performance specifications to prescriptive specifications, and I’m pushing quite hard for that. But the designers don’t want to actually say there’s going top be a distinction door 1,2,3, what they want to do is put in there that it’s a generic door of this performance specification and later on down the line it gets mapped against what’s actually being procured. And although I agree with you that’s probably not the right way of doing it, that’s the challenge that we’ve got.
What we’re trying to do, and as you say it’s a massive task, is get the knowledge that people like Paul McSoley’s got, and you, and subject matter experts, and try and distill that down into a set of procedures and rules and decision trees. What Paul was showing there in the spreadsheet is the result of him and Paul White and some other subject matter experts going through a logical process to say, right, what do we need to do, what questions do we need to ask and what information do we need to answer those questions to start to filter through the selection process. And if that can be done, it might take 3 or 5 years, at least we’re getting down into the detail.
We had a meeting with Transport for London this morning, and one of the frustrations I think everybody’s got is nobody’s doing the detail. The BIM standards used to have quite detailed information about how you did things in terms of what an object should contain, what properties it should contain. In recent years the new BIM standards have made it much more high level. So, you’ve got to have an information strategy, you’ve got to agree certain parameters that you’re going to work with. Not these are the parameters we’d expect you to follow. And that’s unfortunate because it just means it’s a Wild West.
ELLIOTT DAWSON It undermines the whole reason for the actual product itself, in my opinion.
GEORGE Correct. I agree, and we’re fighting against it and I’d like your support in doing that. At a fundamental level, if you look at the Tier 1 contractors, one of the biggest risks that they’ve got at the moment under the new Building Safety Act is that they need to have a record of what’s been installed in all of their buildings. They've also got to have a record of how they reach those decisions, like Paul's been going through there, but at the moment they can't even have a record of what's been installed, which is staggering. It’s done by people producing O&Ms and when the O&M is compiled, Elliott, and its got your products in it , the way the O&M compiler will have worked, they’ll have a door schedule, somebody will then have matched the door schedule against what was purchased, he’ll then come to you and he’ll ask for a data sheet. You’ll provide him a PDF of your specification data sheet, maybe a declaration of performance, maybe at some stage an environmental product declaration PDF, and that gets put into an O&M file.
ELLIOTT DAWSON I’d like to think even half of that got done, but I don’t think it does.
GEORGE Let’s say in the best situation that’s what happens. Now, if you think about it that means that on every project you're reliant on somebody who's probably just a database administrator, or not even that, it's just somebody that's doing some clerical work who's been told to go and get from Distinction doors, this data sheet. They'll probably try and find it on your website and download it and that will then be put into a folder. They may have picked the wrong one, and you’ve got no idea that that product has been used on that particular project, and this happens on every single project. A simpler way of doing that would be a free library of data sheets from manufacturers that the manufacturer controls. And therefore you would know that the product data that you’re providing is the right product data against that particular product.
If we then map that to a Revit family or a schedule that has been provided during the design and construction process then we've got a direct connection between the BIM mode and the product data. I want much more machine readable information about the products that you’re providing, along the lines that we've done with data templates and things like that, but that can be collected later. Or you can decide how much of that information you want to share electronically. We’re trying to do this for all products, and we’ve got several different bit Tier 1 contractors. it just makes so much sense.
ELLIOTT DAWSON yeah, this goes back to a conversation we had initially about a year ago with people being very cloak and dagger about sharing their field of application or sharing their DOPs. I think everybody should be open book and ultimately there should be a way without giving away, because ultimately the field of application contains too much information about the actual product and its manufacture rather than its performance. So there should be a way of separating the two so that everybody, and it's public information as to what product provides what performance levels and has what accreditations, and it’s as simple as that. So, if you take our doors, all our doors are accredited under a third-party scheme with BM Trada, but without going into our field of application you couldn't tell which door did which, or which standard our side lights or integrated fan lights met. And that's ridiculous because ultimately it means we provide you with one document of information and you don't know what's what.
Whereas if we said we've got these, forget our field of application we have 3 performance levels and the product you've got in your building is performance Level 2 and that equates to UK CA marking for externally drained fire door sets with sidelights coupled to these dimensions. Whereas we provide you with a document at the moment, and you could have a door that isn't fit for purpose because it could be six months old. And It's how we separate those two things and that requires BM Trada or the third-party accreditor to allow us to separate the field of application without it costing a fortune, cause the reason we don't do it like that at the moment is every time we open those documents for testing they charge us £1000. So we amalgamate all our field of application and when we test we just update it as a whole.
Whereas if we did a test, so if we had three different tests, so three different product performance levels, if you like, every time we did a test on the basic level, and when I say basic I'm just talking about the fire door in a door set with no glass around it, no nothing, just straight door set. That then allows us to do whatever we've done with that to all the other door sets that are in our different ranges. So if we'd separated those out into performance levels, instead of it costing £1000 to update all those, it would cost us £3000 because you have to open each document to make the relevant updates from the single door set. And in the essence of continual improvement to the product we do several tests a year.
GEORGE So, let’s say for example you’ve got a door, and then you've got a number of different variables on that door. Is what you’re saying is that you would test the type of door and you’d get the filed of application sorted at that level, but you’re limited from testing all of the variable versions because of the way the charging works.
ELLIOTT DAWSON Yeah, absolutely. So, for example, with the door set, we would test the door set…let’s take a really easy one. So, the margins between the frame and the door is between 2 to 4 mil. We know that that door will perform probably up to 6 mil, but you don’t test it like that to start with because you want to ensure it passes. So, we are looking to ever decrease or increase those margins to make manufacture and installation easier and less onerous because it's less exacting on the installation team and the manufacturer of CNC’s. When we do those tests, if we got our categories set out so we had one field of application for a standard door, one for a standard door with an integrated fan light and one for a standard door with then coupled side lights or fan lights that were individual units that had been coupled together that had UK CA marking for external use.
If we had those three, that would be better from a building information in a database because that would be more pertinent to that person's building. But for us, every time we tested anything on the main door, which was the common component to all three product categories, that would cost us £3000 because we would have to open each field of application to update it. It’s just ridiculous, it is absolutely ludicrous because all it would be would be a copy and paste exercise. It’s BM Trada that’s being paid. BM Trada is an independent testing organisation that gives third-party accreditation to basically the composite fire, and the odd timber, but you have to be accredited to either FIRAS or BM Trada.
GEORGE And BM Trada is also, when I talk to fire door inspectors, they tell me that they are BM Trada certified fire door inspectors.
ELLIOTT DAWSON Yeah, it links everybody up, so it links fabricators, installers, maintenance operators. Which is brilliant in a way, because it it collates the whole industry and holds them to an exacting standard, which is what we want. But what we don't want is people to profiteer from admin.
GEORGE The interesting thing that I had with a fire door inspector we’re talking to at the moment is that they’re BM Trada, if there is then a fault on a door that they’ve inspected, they have to fix it.
ELLIOTT DAWSON They might have to fix it, but they have to fix it back to the field of application that relates to that door. They’ll know that because they’ll be given access, that is the whole point of what we're trying to do with the data tag. So the data tag will carry the breakdown of the component parts that make that door up. So when it fails or if it fails or it fails a maintenance call, the maintenance contractor can look at that field of application and go on this door, you have this closer, this handle, this letter plate, and those component parts have to be put back on. You can't just use any old fire rated letter plate, for example.
GEORGE I understand, I'm just thinking of the practicality of this. So let’s say for example, it’s a University or something like that. they’ve done a fire door inspection of maybe a thousand fire doors. Some of them have been in there for 10, 15, 20 years. They follow the BM Trada process, so they do the inspection and let’s say that 100 of those 1000 fire doors fail. From what I’m told, under BM Trada the maintenance company that’s responsible for that building can’t make the corrections. It’s got to be done by that BM Trada inspector.
ELLIOTT DAWSON I can’t see why that would be the case. The work has to be carried out, what you can’t do is retrospectively upgrade fire doors anymore. If something is 10 years old it won’t meet the current standards, so you’d have to put a new door in there that did meet the standards that are required for that building. As for who undertakes that work, as long as that door meets the current standards and is third-party accredited it can be installed by anybody, and that is still the loophole in the system.
GEORGE Yeah, I'm not talking about installation, because these fire door inspectors don't install, but what they might do is do some remedial works to that. Let's say for example an intumescent strip has failed, or something like that. Fitting a new intumescent strip is a maintenance task, isn’t it?
ELLIOTT DAWSON Yes, it is. I would say you've probably picked the one thing that I don't actually know whether you can or can't do. A door closer, yes, you could in essence put any old door closer on, because it won’t have a field of application, we’re talking about…you’re not replacing a door. What you’ve kind of said there is exactly what happened at Grenfell, because you are taking a component part that claims to be FD30 accredited, but has not been tested against that door, so we don’t know how it’s going to perform. That would have been classed as a desktop study prior to Grenfell.
GEORGE There’s the ideal and there’s the practical. I’m not arguing either way. For example, one of our customers is Sedexo and they’re managing Manchester Royal Infirmary and they’ve probably got 4 or 5 thousand fire doors there. Therefore if they do fire door inspections, if the gaps aren’t right they won’t buy a new fire door, they’d adjust it. If, for example, the hinges, after 10 years, need replacing my understanding is that as long as they’re getting a hinge of the same quality and performance that was replacing that previous one then that’s what they would replace it with.
ELLIOTT DAWSON That’s commercial, but I would say that’s not the case. For example, if our door in 5 years time, if the closer was missing or if somebody replaced a closer that wasn’t one of the 3 that we had tested, that door would be non-compliant. The same with the hinge, the same with the lock. The only things that are actual handles, spy holes etc, they are a variable that don’t form part of the filed of application. So, to your point, if in 5 years time one of our doors is inspected and somebody goes there’s a door closer missing there, i’ll just to go Rutland and get a standard rack and pinion, it’s fire accredited, and put it on. That would not be acceptable because it’s not in our field of application and that would formulate a desktop study rather than an actual tested unit and will be noncompliant.
I'm not trying to be funny here or flippant, but that is exactly what happened at Grenfell. So if we say the practical world, if you talk the practical world, you might as well not do what Paul’s, doing because in the practical world people might not even think, ohh, it's a fire door, that’s a wall, that’s a fire door. We'll just put another fire door in.
GEORGE Yeah, it’s a matter of graduation. So, if for example in your field of application, you would presumably include in your detailed information to the people that are you know should have access to that. Let’s say, for example, it's somebody like Equans. If they are appropriately trained and competent in replacing hinges or replacing the door closer, as long as they know what door closer or hinge should be used, and presumably you could provide that information, then they should be able to undertake that…
ELLIOTT DAWSON Absolutely, and they don’t have to be accredited As long as the right product is used on that, which is part of the field of application, and then when they do the re-measurements that that door is still within how it should be within its testing arena, then anybody can carry out that maintenance work at the moment.
GEORGE So under those circumstances the way in which you’re managing that at the moment is a a plug that goes into the door?
ELLIOTT DAWSON Yeah, it’s an NFC data chip that sits in amongst…there’s three dowels at the moment, hinge side. One proves that the the door is manufactured under audited for the FPC accredited conditions. It's been installed properly and which scheme it's accredited to.
GEORGE That information…where I’m trying to get to with this is we want to be able to make it so that when somebody comes along with, let’s say the fire door inspector is using Bolster or Plan Radar or one of those applications. What's concerning me at the moment is that the fire door inspector creates a new record for the door.
ELLIOTT DAWSON Our record should already be on there, so it will already be uploaded with all the previous information. We use a system called Boris but our system can be integrated into any and is held independently, not held by us. It would have a reference point back to the field of application, so that the person doing the maintenance could see what component parts are meant to be on that door.
GEORGE Yeah, so that’s ideal. The point I’m making though is that…Cliff here is working on a project for Barnet Council and we’ve taken the O&Ms and the information on the penetration seals has been created in Bolster. What we’ve got are a series of PDF drawings with handwritten notes on them and then referenced a Bolster report. Bolster is similar to Boris. And for each of the items that they find Bolster issues a number against that particular asset. So the photographs and the record is against that. What we’ve been doing as Active Plan is taking those and putting them into a spatial model, so we’ve actually got that as a unique asset. I said to the Council yesterday that you’ve told us that you’re also using Hilti, a product Hilti have acquired called Field Wire. They’re using that to do inspections of fire doors and fire stopping.
So I said to the Barnet project manager, what about the Bolster information? And he said what Bolster information? I said the fire stopping survey that you did two years ago. He said I don’t know about that, I wasn’t around. So, the new fire stopping inspector, they’re using their software which is Hilti, so they will be inspecting the same fire doors and the same fire stopping as the people that did it previously, but they’re giving them brand new references.
ELLIOTT DAWSON So, how are they going to link the field of application of those doors to the new reference?
GEORGE Exactly. I think what I just described there is absolutely common across the whole bloody industry because the way inspections are recorded we’re ending up with, on one building we’ve got your golden thread, a Plan Radar golden thread, a Bolster golden thread. It all needs to relate back to the space and the individual asset that’s in the space. And therefore we need to be able to have that machine readable connection, even if it's just at a data sheet level against that particular product that you can then collect back to say that that came from Distinction Doors and it’s held in this database. I think what you’re saying is could we connect to that database, as long as somebody’s got the rights to do it.
ELLIOTT DAWSON It’s all permission driven. So, let’s say you go to Barnet Council and say we want the FDS fire door set, we’ve already done 3/4 fo our work, but now we know we need to be UKCA compliant with all balcony or external facing fire doors. We want you to undertake the work, it’s a third-party held database, we can grant access to that to basically whoever we like.
GEORGE Is there a way of doing that connection electronically so we can tie it back to the individual asset so that, or example, the person that's doing the inspection may need to look at your data, which gives them the field of application. They may need to look at somebody else's data who was the record of who installed it, and also somebody else’s data that might be something related to the wall it’s gone into. And also maybe the fire stopping, because you wouldn’t hold the fire stopping around the door, would you?
ELLIOTT DAWSON No, not at all. Our data capture is literally the golden thread. So, it’s point of origin, point of manufacture, then that manufacture literally drives the field of application that that door has been made to. Then we have the installation, so at point of installation that chip, that data, will be tagged to an address. So, I don't know, flat 1 Dawson Towers for Barnet Council. That unique chip reference will be tagged to that property and it will have all the installation pictures and accreditations for the installer. And then obviously the maintenance person will then go six months to a year later, they will scan the NFC reader at the top of the door. It will bring up all that information for them and then they can add to that information, and then they're accreditations will sit on there as well.
Now, what we won't be able to capture, or not at the moment, we could do because we could add other fields in there, is what substructure that has been put into, but we know from our due diligence that we will not fit into any substructure that isn't compatible with our field of application. So, when you revert back to the initial installation and our field of application, it will clearly state there what substructures that door set is permissible to be fit into. If the substructure is changed you’ll have to change the door if it’s not within our filed of application because we can't guarantee that door would work properly.
GEORGE Let’s say, for example, the record of what that substructure is…let’s say they’ve had water leaks and therefore part of the wall has had to be replaced. As I understand it, if plasterboard gets wet it loses its ability to perform as a fire compartment. If they were then replacing it, if the door’s not damaged, they’d just want to replace the wall, wouldn’t they?
ELLIOTT DAWSON Yeah. as long as it’s a like for like replacement and that met the criteria for that to still perform. Unless they're replacing something, I would think probably within 60 mil of the actual door set because that could affect the anchoring of the door set to the substructure. That wouldn't happen really they would have to take the door out to replace the wall and then reinstall the door in a proper manner, and that door would still be fit for purpose.
CLIFF KNEALE Elliott, I was gonna ask about whether or not you register your details with LABC. You've mentioned all types of accreditation that you have, but do you do that at all? I appreciate that you have different situations and field of applications, but do you have any of them that are registered with LABC? Local Authority Building Control for robust details.
ELLIOTT DAWSON Not as far as I know. But, again, that’s not to say that fabricators who are the end manufacturer and installer might have done, but I can certainly find that out for you.
CLIFF KNEALE Yeah, I can fully understand that you are door manufacturers and then you try to specify a door or help specify to select a door for its actual application. But quite often a compartment wall will be a couple of layers of fire line plus plaster board, that’s a pretty standard construction. I just thought maybe the route to go would be down that robust details route, what’s the most common installation for your doors that are fire critical and try and get some LABC certificate on it. And then if that on the future any repairs need to be done they’ll be carried out in accordance with those details. It might be one way of getting some governance around this. You get them for things like cavity trays and all sorts. There’s a whole library of details and I think that they possibly need to expand that library for the Building Safety Act.
GEORGE So, the LABC, is that an association of local authority building control officers?
CLIFF KNEALE It is local authorities. I’m not quite sure how it works. It needs to be nationwide, the detail. But i suppose it needs to be local because different authorities are in different ways…because if you’re in Scotland you would fix every other roof tile rather than every 5th row of roof tiles, the details will change depending on the location of the buildings. But, when it comes to fire inside the building. presumably that’s always going to be the same.
GEORGE That’s a really good suggestion, actually. What do you think, Elliott?
ELLIOTT DAWSON I’m all for it. it’s how you link that to 50-70 different products that are on the market place. And different door types that have been installed, but if you could get everybody…because everybody would have to adhere to it and then they would pick out the applicable door set, I presume, to the one they’ve got installed. That would work perfectly for current and ongoing installs, the problem is we’ve got such a mixture of untested doors out there that people try to either make good of get away with not retesting that until you’ve got that actual test data you can’t, obviously, add the…
CLIFF KNEALE If you had a robust detail for a stud wall or fire compartment wall, at least we’ve got something to work with then. So, this is how it needs to be repaired and these fixings. It's something to go on though, isn't it?
GEORGE Yes, it is. I’ve found it very helpful today. I think we’ve got the development meeting next week, about 20-odd people responded to that. The purpose of this, Elliott, is to really understand from people where they are on the journey and what it is that we think is going to be practically useful in terms of being ready for the regulator
GEORGE Yeah, I still think, George, you’re doing so much and we’re helping a bit with that, but fundamentally the biggest piece is education to actual procurement teams within local authority, social housing and construction companies because people are still taking.
GEORGE The landlords aren’t really directly engaged, at the moment, in product selection, they leave that to designers and contractors. I’m not saying that’s right, but that’s been my experience. Therefore the people we need to really target are the Tier 1 contractors. Even they aren’t the ones that make the product selections, they might be on doors, but with most products…
ELLIOTT DAWSON They don’t, it’s the subcontractor that makes the final. I’m sick to death of being specified on projects and then the subcontractor using a similar or like product, and it just drives me absolutely crazy.
GEORGE I know, and that’s definitely what we’re trying to change. That’s part of this process of having a data sheet because what we’re trying to do is tie this into the technical submittal process that they all operate, and therefore that’s the point at which the Tier 1 contractor can say to a specialist subcontractor no, you’re not going to swap it for that, you use the one that was specified.
CLIFF KNEALE Basically that’s why there are two gateways, to make sure you can’t swap it out at the end if it’s driven by cost. There’s the golden thread of who made the decision and why it was made, you’re basically taking a big responsibility for it then as well.
GEORGE But what we’ve got to do is make it simple for the main contractor to make that decision, and a good way of doing that is to have the data sheet. So, what we’re looking to do…the Finishes and Interior Specialists association, FIS. The chief exec of that trade association used to be the chief exec of the British Woodworking Federation, so he knows a lot about doors. A lot of what the finishes people do is interior finishes, plaster board and stuff. They’re part of the passive fire group that Paul’s working with at the moment. We’ve agreed to pull together product data and design information from a series of manufacturers, installers and designers. So, we could include you in that pilot if that would interest you.
ELLIOTT DAWSON Yeah, absolutely. This is about the greater good and a duty of care for all manufacturers to provide a) the right information, b) the right product but c) keep everybody safe moving forwards. So, if we get business out of it that’s brilliant, but my primary concern is that people follow due process and if they follow due process then the people that are in this group and are sticking to legislation will benefit as well. But any profile is much appreciated.
GEORGE So what I can guarantee you is that you will get a lot of exposure to people like Mace and Balfour Beatty and Bouygues and the like because that those are the people that are gonna be pulling information. We’re also going to include a lot of the big architectural practices, people like PRP. Also, fire engineering companies as well. The other part of the equation is obviously within the group to have maybe a couple of people who are leading on each of the product types. On the fire damper side of things, we’ve got Swegon, Stephen Gore is, I think, going to lead that for us. The point about that is although we want all the Swegon products recorded, obviously we want Carlisle’s and other peoples products on as well. What would be helpful, if you’re interested, you can become leader for the fire door side of things.
ELLIOTT DAWSON Yeah, that would be brilliant.
GEORGE It’s a collaborative effort. If we’ve got the fire door group agreeing they are going to, at a simple level, providing data sheets, then we’ve got something that can glue together.
ELLIOTT DAWSON There’s no smoke and mirrors from us, bar the chemical mixture of our frame and door set I’m happy to share all the findings, all the secrets and test results, because it’s a massive educational piece. The more information we provide as manufacturers the more we can let people understand why it's important, why it's not the throw away cheap product that it once was, because all of these things come at a cost.
GEORGE What you’ll be able to do is set the bar, it will perhaps create a more level playing field for you. I’m really interested in seeing how we could move forward with that LABC thing, because building control is something that’s very topical at the moment. Part of building control was moved into the HSE because the view was that local authority building control was not adequately robust. And also there’s a number of different private building control companies. Part of the HSE, as part of the regulator, they've taken on some sort of building control duties, they’ve inherited people from local authorities. I’m not quite sure how it works.
CLIFF KNEALE It expresses that the local authority building control now have a new boss, the HSE. They’re basically reporting to the HSE now. The HSE are the ones that actually have that 12 week period to sign off the building design at stage 1 and then of course I think that at stage 2 it'll get signed off much quicker if there haven't been any changes from what was specified in stage 1. You’re less likely to get that swap out in stage 2. If you can confirm exactly what was designed in stage 1 is what's being built now, well, there you go. You've done it fine. We just need to go in and inspect it to confirm it.
GEORGE So those details that you were talking about earlier, Cliff, that would be a way that Elliott could contribute to that process? What would we need to do? What would Elliott need to do? Will we need to pull in an architect into that as well so that we could get those standardised details?
CLIFF KNEALE There is a process for getting the details standardised, it’s all on their website: https://www.labc.co.uk/building-safety . If you went in there and said we’d like some details to become robust in order to satisfy the health and safety, not just the water penetration of a building, but we actually want to make sure that it's to do with the Building Safety Act, that that side of things. Because at the moment it does seem to focus more on water penetration into buildings for robust details that you can see. And structure, but not so much fire safety, I think because it’s much more complex, you get different door sets with different components on them in different substructures. There must be one that’s a lot more common than another. Perhaps to start off with that one and get the ball rolling and take it from there.
ELLIOTT DAWSON I think the one thing you might struggle with is the age of the product. So, you will have such a a vast difference, you’ll have fire doors in there that are 30-40 years old, you’ll have some that have just been put in. But I suppose everything and every process has to start somewhere.
GEORGE We could do it on new ones.
ELLIOTT DAWSON I think you’d have to, because the current standards are the exacting standards.
GEORGE What I was thinking, Joe Stott from AHR the architects. Joe is quite active in our little community. Also, Das from David Miller, he's very receptive to these things. We could put together a meeting next week with an architect, maybe bring somebody like Knauf or British Gypsum into it as well so that we’ve got the door and the substrate.
CLIFF KNEALE Yeah, they’ll all need to be involved in coming up with the detail of works. The fire compartment is a composite, it’s made up of smoke seals, the doors, the fixings of the doors, the sub-liner for the door and the wall itself. So yeah, everybody needs to be involved who you mentioned.
GEORGE I think that’s something, Richard, we need to pick up.
RICHARD Yeah, that needs a bit of organisation. We’re very honoured that you took time out, Elliott, from winning awards.
ELLIOTT DAWSON If you go on the BBC, I can announce it now because it’s become official. One of our big manufacturers is Shell Force in Birmingham and they've just been awarded the King's Business award. They’re all inclusive, so they employ blind, deaf, impaired people and they produce the most wonderful product, which is primarily our fire doors. So, we’ve got Birmingham City Council, but we're also now going into the London boroughs with them.
GEORGE So, with your plugs, are you saying you've actually got a record of where all your doors have been installed?
ELLIOTT DAWSON Yes, not all of them, it only came in recently, but yeah, we will have.
GEORGE So, do you know that in the context of the building, or do you just know it as an ID?
ELLIOTT DAWSON It’s an ID and, as I say, that ID has an address. We know if it’s a tower block, we don’t know what floor it’s on because we don’t know how many rooms are on each floor, but we know that in will be let’s say Flat 1 Dawson Towers will go up to maybe Flat 100 Dawson Towers, so we can link a door to a particular…and what we can also do is then link that door back to a batch, so should there ever be the worst case scenario we’ll be able to quarantine that batch if we could prove that that door failed on its performance. It’s basically on us to replace that door set.
GEORGE When you've got that door, you've got the location. The location would include what flat it's been installed in.
ELLIOTT DAWSON Yeah, it’s the exact address that it’s been put into.
GEORGE We could do something with that, couldn’t we, Cliff?
CLIFF KNEALE Well, it is it XYZ coordinates or just an address?
ELLIOTT DAWSON It’s just an address.
CLIFF KNEALE we could do something with that, but if you had the XYZ coordinates, if you took a photograph of it with your GPS switched on then you’d know exactly where it was in the building then as well.
GEORGE What Distinction Doors do, they provide…I don’t know if you manufacture, Elliott, but you buy in the door blanks, don’t you?
ELLIOTT DAWSON Yeah, so the actual fire frame and door is ours, we just on’t assemble it. We buy the door and the kit in from the far East and then it’s transported. So we will either then manufacture the door and fabricate it so that it's got all the lock prep and hinge prep, it will go to an end fabricator either in Land's End or John O’Groats or everywhere in between, and they will manufacture that product to our standard, our field of application. We generate that tag when that door comes in and that tag links into that specific door and is given an ID before it leaves our building. We’re kind of a manufacturer, but we’re not an end manufacturer, so we’d go to someone like Nationwide or hurst Plastics or Shell Force, who’ve just won the King’s Award. They actually assemble all the component parts, so they are the manufacturer.
GEORGE So, do you actually manufacture the frame and things, or are you saying that you buy in all the component parts, based on your design that goes to a fabricator to put together?
CLIFF KNEALE I’m just thinking that if these blanks come from the Far East and they are fire doors and then they get holes punched through them, are they then certified again and still being fire rated?
GEORGE Yeah, it’s Elliott’s firm that actually gets them tested and certified. So, they’re buying in the component elements.
ELLIOTT DAWSON We were audited in the factory in Taiwan, so they were fully audited, independently, on their manufacture. Then, all the 49 tests that we’ve done basically are just a consistency test. The door doesn’t change, it’s just cut out and we cut it out exactly the same every time for the door styles, and then we tested all the different door styles. So, everything has been individually tested after, and that is the massive difference between a timber fire door and a composite fire door. Every variable is tested on a composite fire door, whereas they're not on timber.
CLIFF KNEALE Basically, each of your designs is tested afterwards and put into the door.
ELLIOTT DAWSON Yeah. Every door arrives as a solid door and then our CNC machine will cut out whatever design we chose. We've got about 12 different designs in fire doors and then they are individually tested, and that process is replicated exactly the same every time for consistency purposes. When we go for testing we will manufacture the product, and then what we do is almost give it out under licence to different people.
CLIFF KNEALE https://www.labc.co.uk/building-safety