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 Grenfell fire

According to eyewitnesses, fire and smoke travelled freely between floors and within the singular escape route inside the Grenfell building, filling lobbies and killing people. How could this possibly happen with fire spread across the external cladding outside of the building?

A year after the Grenfell fire, the Metropolitan Police tested some of the fire doors at the front of flats and established that they failed in their job. This was also confirmed in the report by Sir Martin Moore-Bick, which established that smoke and toxic gases were allowed to spread through Grenfell Tower by "faulty and ineffective" fire doors. So, without doubt, the fire door's failure contributed to the tragedy. Why have the fire doors failed?

There is evidence that within the Grenfell Tower entrance/exit doors to flats that must be fire doors were fitted with letter plates, some of them not even 'fire rated'. This is a feature in the fire door that could undermine the compartmentation of flats and fire protection of the common escape route. In a recorded 999 call made during the fire the resident in Flat 113 described smoke coming through her door and in her oral evidence to the Grenfell Tower Inquiry she explained that smoke was “coming from any crack in the door”; both around the frame and through the letterbox. 

There is a growing concern regarding the failed fire doors that were installed at Grenfell and in many other similar residential buildings. It is scandalous that people who are responsible for fire safety treat the problem with the safety of fire doors as 'recently discovered'.

One does not need to wait for the results of the Grenfell fire investigation to understand that putting an unprotected letter plate on a fire entrance/exit door runs the risk of utterly catastrophic consequences. And with these doors, the fire could be easily started by arson through the letter plate if someone wanted.

Why are we so tolerant of 'fire rated' letter plates that put lives at risk and destroy properties when this can be easily avoided?

The system is not made to suit the needs of fire safety. The Grenfell fire should serve as a wake-up call to the very real danger posed by an unprotected letter plate. In the final report, Dame Judith Hackitt finds that fundamental reform is needed to improve building safety. It is time to acknowledge that the risks associated with an unprotected letterbox are real and can be deadly. Without protecting the letter plate can we say that this will not and cannot happen again?

Prohibiting the use of letter plates on final exit doors would solve the problem, but this would be achieved at the expense of compromising traditional mail deliveries. For that reason, this solution is not always suitable. The problem can be better addressed by fitting additional protection measures behind the letter plate, which would ensure that the door will be fit for purpose and protect against the letter plate related risks.

Since security comes with a price, the degree of the letter plate protection can be based on the risk assessment. As a minimum specification, any door with a letter plate must be protected against letterbox arson, which is a serious threat to all premises, be they residential, commercial or industrial. RISCAuthority regards arson as a problem that has grown since the 1950s to the extent that over 40% of all fires in industry and commerce and over 20% in residential properties are now lit deliberately. In addition, ideally, the letter plate on fire doors must be protected against the spread of fire and smoke even when the flap is open.

To view what is available on the market for letter plate protection, visit Specifying secure letterbox.

PowerPrize Limited has designed and patented a complete range of innovative gravity-powered secure by design letter and mailbox products to meet today's door and property security, fire resistance and energy performance needs without impeding traditional methods of mail delivery.


These cutting edge integrated security and cleantech solutions, which are the world's first to expel any volume of liquids from the letter or mailbox and suitable for fitting at a high and low level, are supplied by the company under its own brand IdealGuard™.

Focusing on risk prevention, the maintenance-free innovations help to eliminate or significantly reduce all letter/mailbox related risks to the property, including arson, fire, burglary, vandalism, theft, mail theft, flooding, heat loss, and terrorism. Some models are available to purchase on this website, some on Amazon and some by contacting us directly.

Click to see how IdealGuard™/U secure by design multifunctional eco letter/mailbox will protect against letterbox arson and ensure that smoke, whether cold or hot, is contained and does not penetrate the property.

We are constantly working to improve our products and currently, there are new models  IdealGuard™/T. If this is of interest to you do not hesitate to  contact us .