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Timber frame fire risks under scrutiny

The London Assembly is meeting for a second time to review fire safety in tall and timber framed buildings.

The review was prompted by a fire on a construction site in Peckham in November 2009 where a half completed timber frame block of flats was burnt down (NCE 3 December 2009).

This week’s meeting will try to identify practical issues in fire safety regulations such as how landlords carry out fire risk assessments, and how assessors are trained in fire safety regulations.

The first meeting, which took place in March, identified that poor workmanship and lack of adequate risk management are posing great risks and examined whether building regulations or building control could be done differently.

The review also identified the refurbishment sector as an area of high risk because engineers often do not appreciate the changes they are making to the building.

“If someone is designing to Construction (Design & Management) Regulations 2007 it is the their obligation to ensure they do not design in risk to the building,” said Standing Committee on Structural Safety secretary John Carpenter

“We need good drawings, with good details and quality building processes. We need to understand the building as a lifelong asset,” he added.

Readers' comments (1)

  • The problem is not timber-framed buildings per se, but works in a temporary condition allied to carelessness and a lack of control. If timber-framed buildings were inherently dangerous, why is 70% of Scottish housing built using timber frames? Canada's proportion of domestic construction in timber-frame is probably even greater. Do not let this issue degenerate into a squabble between the materials lobbies, similar to the concrete versus steel chronic saga.

    Sandy Fraser, Dundee

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