Fire body calls for urgent review of Building Regulations following latest timber frame fire

The Chief Fire Officers Association (CFOA) is calling on an urgent review of the Building Regulations to consider the issue of external fire spread from fires involving construction site.

The move comes following a number of significant fires involving large timber framed buildings under construction, which resulted in fire damage to adjacent buildings.

The latest fire involving a timber framed building occurred on 10th September in Basingstoke and threatened neighbouring properties. CFOA vice president, chief fire officer Peter Holland said, “But for the tenacity and heroic efforts of fire crews responding from Hampshire, Surrey and Royal Berkshire fire and rescue services, the consequences of this fire would have been much worse”.

The association says it is increasingly concerned that fires involving timber framed buildings under construction may result in loss of life.

The Communities and Local Government department is commissioning research into fire-fighting in timber framed buildings. The CFOA is calling for this research to be accelerated and the findings published as a matter of urgency.

The Fire Protection Association (FPA) and insurers technical research group RISCAuthority have also announced their intention to publish comprehensive guidance aimed at tradesmen installing services into timber frame buildings.

Commenting on a number of recent timber frame construction site fires, Dr Jim Glockling the FPA’s technical director and RISCAuthority passive group chair said: “Our principal concerns are their susceptibility to arson and accidental fire setting during the construction phase; the impact of these often large fires on local communities; build quality issues meaning some buildings may fail to ever meet the fire protection requirements of the Building Regulations; and the scope for occupier adjustment of the building to defeat the fire safety principles of the design.’

Glocking questioned the suitability of Approved Document ’B’ of the Building Regualtions and the accompanying inspection processes to ensure the safety of buildings constructed of flammable structural elements, having historically been developed around buildings constructed of nominally non-flammable materials.

RISCAuthority’s technical groups are working closely with UKTFA to provide a series of guides that complement the existing UKTFA scheme to reduce construction fires.