The UK’s first practical training centre for the fire door industry has opened in Bury, Greater Manchester.

Purpose built, the 3,000ft² training academy has been launched by Fire Door Maintenance (FDM) to raise safety standards across the industry. Comprising different types of fire doors and components from a range of manufacturers, the facility will provide a dedicated space for hands-on training, as well as classrooms for theory-based learning.

Accredited by GQA Qualifications, an awarding body for specialist and occupational roles, the academy will offer a variety of courses. The first to launch will be a fire door inspector course, followed by a course centred on fire door maintenance, and another focusing on fire door installation. After completion, participants will receive a GQA skills card.

As well as ensuring compliance with the latest fire safety regulation, the accredited training will respond to the Hackitt report’s recommendations that emerged from the inquiry following the Grenfell Tower fire. 

A variety of fire safety awareness courses will also be on offer for anyone wishing to learn more about the latest legislation and how to raise safety standards, such as merchants, architects, facilities managers, locksmiths, and representatives from housing associations, local authorities and the fire rescue service. 

Owned by UAP, FDM is led by former business consultant Nicola John who has two decades of experience in the door manufacturing and construction industry.

Commenting on the opening, John said: “The Training Academy is the first to offer practical fire door training in the largest centre of its kind. The Hackitt report underlined the importance of the ‘golden thread’ and this is at the centre of our specialist training. Each course will underline how vital it is to source primary test evidence and the risk of changing or substituting components in a fire door.

“Providing access to fire doors and components from a range of manufacturers is a key element of the training. All fire doors are made slightly differently which means they need to be inspected differently too. Training participants will learn the nuances of each product and how to identify and fix any issues.”

The training academy was formally opened by Councillor Sandra Walmsley, Mayor of Bury, at a ribbon cutting ceremony. The event was also attended by Bury Council leader, Councillor Eamonn O’Brien.

Dan Brown, Strategic Relationship Manager at GQA Qualifications, said: “The launch of FDM’s Training Academy is exceptionally timely, coinciding with a significant phase of introspection within the construction industry.

“This introspection, fuelled by the demands of the Building Safety Act 2022, aims to enhance overall quality, compliance, and competence following a series of tragic events resulting in devastating loss of life.

“GQA Qualifications is proud to support FDM as it embarks on its mission to deliver rigorous training and qualifications to the industry. These offerings, awarded by GQA, are designed with meticulous assessment and learning content to address the life-safety risks associated with fire safety doors in buildings. 

“The Training Academy serves as a model of accomplishment, showcasing what is possible with the appropriate determination, concentration, and commitment to enhance training in a specific yet vital sector.”

As part of FDM’s offer, the academy will also be used to provide bespoke training for the company’s own operatives. This workforce is available to housing associations and local authorities seeking to outsource fire door inspections, maintenance and installations.