Timber Frame Fire Safety

 

 
Timber Frame and Fire: THE FACTS
 
Recently there has been a number of headlines in the national and construction press regarding the risk of fire safety on timber frame construction sites. We at OFP believe these headlines to be misleading and negative. The timber frame industry does a great deal to manage the risk of fire and leads the construction sector when it comes to fire safety management.  
 
Statistics from UKTFA
 
  • UKTFA Chairman Geoff Arnold, “The data shows that of 34,783 dwelling fires in the UK, only 359 were timber frame – which is about 1% of the total.”
 
TRADA findings
 
  • “Contrary to many people’s perceptions, timber used in construction performs well in fire. Timber burns steadily at a predictable rate and in the process, charcoal is formed on the surface of the timber, which serves to insulate and protect the core” - TRADA, Fire Performance of Timber Frame Dwellings

  • There is no difficulty in timber based structures meeting the required levels, given correct design, standards of manufacture and workmanship.” Timber frame detailing requires that materials with good fire performance are used as per standard.

  • Timber frame not only meets the requirements of all building regulations, but it can endure “exposure approximately 10% more severe than a standard 60 minute fire resistance fire test.”
  • Chiltern International Fire report - “there was no evidence to suggest that a rise in the number of timber frame residential buildings would result in an increase in the number of fire casualties.”
 
SiteSafe
 
  • SiteSafe is recognised and approved by the Chief Fire Officers Association. Peter Holland, Vice President of the Chief Fire Officers Association and Chief Fire Officer of Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service has said: "A timber frame construction site that has adopted and applied SiteSafe is really doing as much as it can to minimise the risk of fire on site.”

  • Ian Cox, Director of Fire Protection at the Chief Fire Officers Association (CFOA) states: “The UKTFA should be rightly proud of how it is dealing with the risk of fire in timber frame buildings. We would urge all trade association to be as prompt and assiduous as the UKTFA when dealing with such a serious issue as fire."

  • It would be wrong to “make the timber frame the scapegoat for poor fire management” and that the construction industry should “use them as the example by which we should all set our standards”.
 
Overall, as the UKTFA has stated “With timber frame accounting for one in four new homes in England and over 70% in Scotland, the interpretation of this data so far has been scare mongering at best.”

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