The timber-frame industry has announced a range of initiatives to improve the safety of multistorey timber-framed projects under construction.

The news comes a week after a report by the Fire Protection Association (FPA) on last July’s fire at Colindale, north London, questioned whether timber-frame construction should be used for multistorey buildings. It also comes a week after a £100m timber-frame development burned to the ground in Newcastle.

Stewart Dalgarno, chairman of the UK Timber Frame Association (UKTFA), said it was going to recommend to its members that vertical fire compartmentation be installed every 20m in buildings more than three storeys high during construction. This would help to prevent the horizontal spread of fire.

Dalgarno added that the UKTFA was spending £150,000 on research to see how the cost of fire retardants could be reduced. He said: “The technology is there, but it's not commercially viable at the moment.”

The technology is there, but it’s not commercially viable at the moment

Stewart Dalgarno, UKTFA

It has also emerged that fire engineering specialist International Fire Consultants is offering an independent fire safety design and audit service to developers using timber-frame.

Berkeley Homes, which owns St George, the developer of the scheme at Colindale, has used the service at its Holborough development near Rochester in Kent. Measures introduced included fire compartmentation, installing windows early to reduce the amount of available oxygen in the event of a fire and installing temporary fire doors.

Meanwhile, St George has said it welcomes the London Fire Brigade’s report into the Colindale blaze and said it would be studying the report in detail and digesting its contents.