Safe and secure? Doors & windows

Posted on 01/05/2014

BM TRADA Principal Technical Officer Ross Newman explains how entrance doors and windows are tested for fire and security and the challenges of ensuring they meet the performance requirements for both.

Entrance doors and windows are required to perform a multitude of tasks including: access to the building; providing natural light and protection from the elements; limiting heat loss from the building; offering security protection; and securing means of escape and protection from fire and smoke by providing fire and smoke resistance.

Security, fire and smoke resistance for entrance doors and windows is critical in terms of life safety and property protection and it is the specification of these performance requirements that is often misunderstood by those in the supply chain.

By understanding how doors and windows are tested to provide security and fire performance and the different demands that are placed on doors and windows, the confusion can be reduced. This will not only prevent delays and unexpected costs in building projects but also help to ensure that one performance requirement does not supersede another. It will also avoid the worst case scenario where neither performance can be achieved.

For decades there has been a drive to enhance security and reduce the risk of fire deaths and injuries in and around the buildings which we inhabit. The drivers are far reaching, from the government’s quest to reduce crime, risk and injury, to the public’s demand for safe and pleasant environments in which to live, work and entertain.

The police and the insurance industry also aim to reduce the cost and impact of crime, damage and loss which in turn bring significant benefits to the economy and environment. We also have a strong emotional attachment to our home and belongings and do not want our personal space invaded or destroyed.

Protection from fire has long been high on the list of priorities for a safe built environment and was the key driver for minimum building standards and the development of the Building Regulations as we know them today. In many buildings, there is a requirement for products, such as doors, glazed screens, partitions and ceilings to resist the passage of fire. These products help to control the growth and spread of the fire. They protect both life and property by allowing occupants to escape and the fire services to gain access to fight the fire.

In addition to fire resistance performance, smoke control also has a key role to play in safeguarding the means of escape within a building by limiting the passage of smoke through a building and providing tenable conditions to reach a place of safety. Smoke control is particularly important for an element such as a door, which includes gaps by virtue of its design and is therefore a potential weak area for permitting smoke to travel through a building.

Increasing security measures on doors, windows and any other method of access to properties has also become a high priority with the increasingly widespread use of double glazing, mortise locks, additional window locks, latches, night chains and security letter plates. Home insurance companies often demand five lever mortise locks, additional patio door locks and other pre-requisites as a requirement of the policy. While the introduction of the Secured By Design initiative has led to changes in the layout of developments as well as increased physical security.

Occasionally security and fire seem directly at odds with one another, enhancing the doors ability to prevent intrusion on the one hand but needing to provide a quick and safe egress from the building on the other. It is also prudent therefore that security and fire performance are considered alongside means of escape requirements.

By considering the standards and requirements for security and fire, this article aims to discuss how appropriate entrance doors and windows which offer both security and safety in the event of a fire may be specified.

Fire safety requirements

Although external fire resistant doors and windows are not a common requirement, BS 9991 and Approved Document B detail certain situations in which they are necessary, including:
  • Flats with a balcony or deck approach or interconnected balconies where the means of escape would require occupants of the building to escape past a door or window (where fitted below 1100mm) of a flat which may be on fire
  • Windows looking out onto external escape stairs or landings within 1800mm of the floor level
  • Windows or doorsets in close proximity to a boundary (generally within 1m)
  • Flat entrance doorsets and glazed screens on internal protected escape corridors.
It is the flat entrance doorsets that are the most common areas where there is a requirement for fire resistance and also the most likely area for a doorset to also need to be secure and meet Secured By Design requirements.  Fire resisting entrance doors will also need to be self-closing so that following escape from a flat which is on fire the door closes to protect the escape route. This requirement does not apply to windows; a window in terms of fire resistance will nearly always be a fixed screen.

Fire resistance testing is carried out in accordance with either BS 476 Part 22 or BS EN 1634 Part 1 (doors). The programme of testing is generally based on the most onerous design configuration in terms of likely fire performance from the intended range of products wished to be placed on the market. A BS EN 1364-1 (screens) fire test is intended to replicate the ‘flash over’ and fully developed phase of a compartment fire and follows a standard time temperature curve in order to provide standardised conditions for every fire test conducted.

Following the fire test an assessment or extended field of application (EXAP) document can be produced that may provide coverage for changes to configuration and components for the doorset design from that tested. The assessment may use many pieces of test data from a variety of sources to expand the scope of application. This may be the inclusion of test data from other hardware, door frame, glass manufacturers, gasket or intumescent seal suppliers. The product range and scope of application for variation in design can therefore be much larger than that originally tested.

The final optional stage in the fire product approval process is third party certification for fire doors and windows and is widely specified by local housing authorities, architects and developers in the UK. The scope of certification will be based on the test reports and assessments.

The certified scope will clearly state all the allowable sizes and configurations with a detailed list of components with the manufacturer’s name, product dimensions, product references, adhesives and fixing details. The door or window should be identifiable with labels or plugs to prove who has manufactured it and will be traceable back to this scope of application.

There are no allowable changes from this certified scope in order for the doorset or window to remain certified for fire resistance, unless approved by the certification body.

Security considerations

Security considerations within new developments are taken into account through Secured By Design (SBD), the official UK Police flagship initiative, developed by the Association of Chief Police Officers’ Crime Prevention Initiative (ACPO CPI). Supporting the principles of ‘designing out crime’, it is an award given to the developer, landlord or architect, building or refurbishing homes, commercial developments and sheltered accommodation. It is given when a development has reached not only a minimum standard of physical security – the doors, locks, windows, lighting, alarms etc. – but also when the layout of the development reduces the opportunity for crime.

Secured By Design provides confirmation that all reasonable precautions have been built into a property and that the security level is acceptable to insurance companies (under normal circumstances). It is widely specified by local housing authorities, architects and developers throughout the UK.

Entrance doors and accessible windows installed into SBD developments must meet specified performance standards to demonstrate appropriate levels of security and fitness for purpose i.e. durability, weather tightness and usability.

Compliance is demonstrated by independent, third party certification based on performance, tested against specified standards; and production, based on an approved quality management system. Performance and production are checked on a regular basis via audit testing and factory inspections.

Manufacturers, whose doors or windows meet the requirements, can apply for an SBD licence from ACPO CPI Ltd, which will enable them to tender for projects which stipulate SBD compliance within the product specification and to use the SBD logo on their products, packaging and marketing material.

SBD Entrance Doorsets
 
Doorsets must be certified by an independent UKAS accredited certification body and tested against  PAS 24 and the relevant material-specific standard for general performance (which will reference  BS 6375 Parts 1, 2 and 3).

TABLE 1: Secured By Design testing for entrance doorsets 
 
General Performance PAS 24 - Enhanced Security
Including:

- Operating forces
- Air permeability
- Watertightness
- Wind resistance
- Basic security
- Cyclic operation
- Operational strength characteristics
Including:

- Manual manipulation
- Manual infill medium removal
- Mechanical infill medium removal
- Mechanical loading
- Manual check
- Soft body impact
- Hard body impact
- Manual cutting
- Hardware and cylinder security 

PAS 24 additionally specifies requirements for
cylinders, letter plates and glazing material.

Alternatively security can be demonstrated by
testing to EN 1627-30 Class RC3 for doors
with additional cylinder and letter plate 
requirements as specified in PAS 24.

TABLE 2: Secured By Design testing for windows
 
General Performance PAS 24 - Enhanced Security
Including:

- Operating forces
- Air permeability
- Watertightness
- Wind resistance
- Basic security
- Cyclic operation
- Operational strength characteristics
Including:

- Manual manipulation
- Manual infill medium removal
- Mechanical infill medium removal
- Mechanical loading
- Manual check

Alternatively security can be demonstrated by
testing to EN 1627-30 Class RC2N for Windows.
 

Testing must be undertaken at a test laboratory suitably accredited by UKAS. SBD requires that test laboratories achieve UKAS accreditation to ensure tests are being carried out correctly and in a fully independent manner.

Certification

ACPO CPI has made third party certification a requirement for entrance doors and accessible windows installed into SBD approved new homes.

Third party product certification enables manufacturers to demonstrate to specifiers and purchasers that products not only meet the test requirements but that every product produced should continue to meet those same high standards. It provides reassurance to:
  • the occupier that the product will perform
  • the property owner that they have done as much as possible to ensure the safety of the end-user
  • the insurer and inspector (Police ALOs/Building Control) that the requirements have been met
  • the manufacturer that their product will perform.
This degree of reassurance is important when considering the security of social housing developments. It is not sufficient to know that one specimen product met the standards in the test laboratory on one day. Certification offers the reassurance that all products arriving and being installed on site will offer the required levels of security, and therefore the peace of mind, expected by the occupiers, property owners and property managers.

Certified doors and windows are marked with a label which should include:
  • the certification body’s name
  • the standard that applies e.g. BS 7412 and PAS 24
  • a certificate number.
The SBD scope of application will be found within the product’s scope of certification. This will include a very detailed list of components with the manufacturer’s name, product dimensions, product references, adhesives and fixing details. There is also a requirement for a minimum of one pane of any glazing within a doorset or accessible window to be of a laminated type to BS EN 356 class P1A to prevent simply breaking the glass to gain entry.

There are no allowable changes from this certified scope in order for the doorset or window to remain SBD compliant.

Specifying for fire and security

If an entrance door or window needs to be both SBD and fire resistant compliant, the product will need to be constructed within the parameters of both scopes of applications, therefore the specification of the product tested for one requirement needs to be replicated in the other. Furthermore means of escape will also need to be considered to provide at least a 90 degree door opening angle and simple readily-operated door locks without the need for a key, such as thumb turn cylinders, from the side approached by people making their escape.

It may be perceived that fire is the greater danger and the fire scope of application will take the lead on specification. However, while fire and security may pose different threats, that doesn’t mean one should be compromised for the other.

The requirement for a minimum of one laminated glass pane for SBD also means this glazing specification will need to be fire tested with the same detail in order for it to be compliant. Additional items which may be required for SBD such as multipoint locks, cylinder guards, security letter plates or additional glazing tapes must also be included in the fire scope of application.

SBD scope of certification will therefore likely be the limiting factor on the scope of application for any product, since very few changes will be allowed from the tested design specification, whereas the fire scope may be much more broad-ranging in terms of configuration and options of component parts as offered by the manufacturers tested or assessed scope of application.

Changing or omitting certain details on doors and windows may invalidate the certification offered or seriously reduce the fire or security performance altogether. For example, changing the specification of a fire approved double glazed unit for a SBD only compliant unit may reduce the fire performance from 30 minute to as low as 3 minutes, dependent on glass types and installation technique. Similarly changing the SBD approved lockset for one covered only by the fire scope of application may reduce the security performance and provide entry in less than one minute.

It is essential for anyone in the supply chain of entrance doors and windows with fire and security requirements, to understand what is required in order to provide satisfactory protection to the occupants of a building. For the architect this will include performance requirements depending on building design. For the manufacturer it will be understanding how to meet design requirements whilst providing fire and security performance according to their test data and scope of certification.  Finally, for the installer it will be knowing that there will be strict limitations on how to install the door and/or window to comply with the manufacturers supporting documentation.

Fire and security are proven by different test standards and therefore have particular design requirements, however, they share the same common goal and that is to prevent loss of life and to protect property. With an understanding of how the two interact everyone should be confident that they are protected should the worst happen.

What is Secured by Design?

Development of enhanced security came about in 1989 when the Association of Chief Police Officers’ Crime Prevention Initiative (ACPO CPI) established Secured By Design (SBD).

SBD aims to reduce burglary and crime in the UK by designing out crime through physical security measures and processes. SBD was set up with the aim of focusing on the design and security of new and refurbished homes, commercial premises and car parks, as well as the acknowledgement of quality security products.

SBD has had significant success during its development and implementation. It has been statistically proven by a study carried out in 2009 to achieve a reduction of crime risk by up to 75%, by combining minimum standards of physical security and well-tested principles of natural surveillance and defensible space.

SBD developments (those using products and materials approved by SBD) are half as likely to be burgled and show a reduction of 25% in criminal damage.

Secured By Design provides confirmation that all reasonable precautions have been built into a property and that the security level is acceptable to insurance companies (under normal circumstances).

For further information on testing external doors and windows for fire resistance and security contact BM TRADA on 01494 569 800 or email testing@bmtrada.com.
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BM TRADA Principal Technical Officer Ross Newman explains how entrance doors and windows are tested for fire and security and the challenges of ensuring they meet the performance requirements for both.