Profab Access Ltd, part of the Access 360 portfolio, is prioritising fire safety in buildings with the introduction of fire testing for both sides of its 4000 Series riser door range.
Established in 2001, Profab Access Ltd is a leading UK manufacturer of wall and ceiling access panels and riser doors. The company employs a team of 71 and operates from a 46,000 sq. ft. manufacturing and distribution facility in Atherstone, Warwickshire. All aspects of the design and manufacturing process are carried out onsite.
Profab has been working with the global testing, inspection and certification company, Warrington Fire, for several years and has the CERTIFIRE independent third party certification for its 4000 Series riser doors, 8000 Series access panels for tiled walls, 1000 Series access panels and steel doors. The 4000 and 8000 Series ranges are available with up to a 4 hour CERTIFIRE rating.
Since the Grenfell Tower fire the issue of fire safety has dominated the construction sector. Following the Hackitt Review and the subsequent Government Implementation Plan, published in December 2018, four key areas were highlighted for improvement, including “Clearer standards and guidance, and product safety”.
James Fisher, Managing Director of Access 360, comments, “From our perspective actions speak louder than words. In the spirit of the Hackitt Review we wanted to ‘start living the cultural shift’ and to lead the industry by investing in testing and certification because we believe it’s the right thing to do and not just because it’s a legal requirement.”
“Fire testing from both sides is a significant investment on our part, in terms of time and cost. It takes nearly twice as long to test from both sides, requires two doors to be tested on opposite sides and doubles the cost of the testing and certification process. The benefit to our customers is that they can have absolute confidence that when they specify a Profab fire rated riser door its performance has been tested and independently verified above and beyond what is legally required.”
“We want all our customers to have this level of peace of mind and it is our intention to conduct fire testing from both sides on all the products in the Profab range. Testing on the 1000 Series access panels is already under way.”
Warrington Fire, now a part of the Element Group, is a UKAS accredited laboratory which specialises in fire resistance testing for passive fire protection products. The testing process is stringent, from start to finish. The testing personnel from Warrington Fire come to the Profab Access manufacturing facility to personally select the riser doors they wish to test. Both the doors and frames are signed by the testers to ensure the correct products are delivered to them for testing.
Once at the laboratory the riser doors are tested to BS EN 1634-1:2014+A1:2018, the standard for fire resistance and smoke control. The testing process involves the riser doors being held in a rig in front of a kiln. The size of the rig, 3 metres high by 3 metres wide, enables testing of single, double or triple riser doors to be carried out.
The riser doors are tested to measure the integrity of the door and frame when subjected to fire. The process involves ensuring that flaming cannot occur on the unexposed face of the door for longer than 10 seconds and that a 25 mm rod cannot be passed through the specimen. The transfer of radiant heat though the surface of the doors is also measured. Limiting the transmission of heat from one side of the door to the other to protect building occupants so they can safely exit the building is paramount.
Amendments have already been made to the Building Regulations Approved Document B (Fire Safety), notably the ban on combustible cladding on all new buildings over 18 metres in height. Further changes are expected as a result of the call for evidence for the technical review of Approved Document B, which closed in March. By taking the lead in fire testing both sides of the 4000 Series riser doors Profab Access is future proofing the products being used in the construction sector. When it comes to riser doors building professionals now have the opportunity to specify products that exceed the legal requirements.