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Fire highlights risk to timber framed sites

The dangers of timber framed construction were highlighted last week, it has been claimed, following a blaze that broke out on a construction site in Peckham.

The fire started early Thursday morning on a half completed timber frame block of flats that was being built by Greenacre Homes on behalf of London & Quadrant Group.

The fire spread to two neighbouring buildings and over 200 people were evacuated from their homes.

“In my experience fire safety on construction sites is very lax.”

Fathi Tarada, Halcrow

“In my experience fire safety on construction sites is very lax,” said, Halcrow director of fire safety engineering Fathi Tarada. “The people who are on site supervising don’t take it seriously.

“There is a significantly higher risk of fires on construction sites than on completed buildings.”

“There have been a number of devastating fires at timber framed projects over recent years and earlier this year the Communities and Local Government department was asked to urgently review building regulations to reduce the incidence of rapid fire spread in timber frames under construction,” said a spokesman for the British Association of Reinforcement, which represents the concrete industry.

However, other experts defended the technique. “Incidents like this are extremely unusual,” said UK Timber Frame Association chairman Geoff Arnold. “Timber frame is a safe, durable and reliable way to build. What matters most is good site security and site management, regardless of what method of construction is used.”

Readers' comments (1)

  • May I thank the NCE for providing yet another misleading article title and also for perpetuating the fear of using timber in this country.

    Fire is a risk on all construction sites as it is in completed buildings, irrespective of the principle structural material used. I wonder if the spokesman from the British Association of Reinforcement would also care to comment on the dangers of concrete buildings in fire?

    I agree with Geoff Arnold, timber is a safe, durable and reliable material to use. We also have a much better chance of meeting the carbon neutral targets by promoting timber construction as opposed to high embedded energy materials!

    Site safety and security are the issues here, not the materials used.

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