American insurance firm has raised concerns

Insurers are calling for a review of Building Regulations governing fire protection following research comparing the UK with the US where timber-frame construction is more common.

The research, published by RISC Authority, shows timber-framed homes without sprinklers were the third largest cause of fire-related losses in the US. RISC Authority is a research and lobbying body for the insurance industry.

The research follows concerns about the number and size of insurance claims for fires in timber-framed buildings compared with other forms of construction.
The report, which compares the incidence of fires in timber-frame dwellings in the US with the UK, also found that fires in unprotected large timber-frame buildings under construction are the most frequent large loss type of fire in the US. It calls for a review of Part B of the Building Regulations, which covers fire.

In the US 90% of homes are built using timber-frame compared with 1.9% in the UK.

The report also found that the percentage of fires in homes compared with other building types is similar in both countries. However, when they do occur fires in timber-frame buildings are more damaging. Fires in the home account for just 35% of total losses in the UK compared with 71% in the US.

The report drew attention to the impact of fitting sprinklers. Jim Glocking, the technical director of the Fire Protection Association which prepared the report, said sprinklers should be fitted to tall timber-framed buildings and those in multiple occupation.

The UK Timber Frame Association said it was unhelpful to compare fire statistics from the US with those in the UK without a detailed understanding of regulatory and construction practice in the two countries. It added it would be impractical to apply different regulations to different forms of construction.