New guidance for contractors over timber frame risk

Information has been released by the UKTFA (UK Timber frame Association), with backing from the Health & Safety Executive, following a number of high profile inner city building site blazes. Foremost among them was a large explosion at a building site in central Bath.

The Association has advised that contractors have a crucial role to play in specifying the right type of system, indicating that more expensive products are often required, rather than open panelled timber frame. It also provides wider advice on neutralising the threat of fire in timber construction sites.

It said: “Critically, this Guidance means that timber-frame can be built in any location in the UK relative to the fire risk associated with highly populated or inner city areas.”

The Design guide to separating distances for timber frame buildings during construction is the result of extensive fire testing and has been developed in co-operation with the HSE, the Fire Protection Association (FPA), the Chief Fire Officers Association (CFOA) and the Fire Brigade Union (FBU).

Philip White, HSE chief inspector of construction, Health & Safety Executive, said: “There have been a number of dramatic examples in recent years of the damage that construction site fires can cause to neighbouring properties.

“HSE has been working closely with the UKTFA on assessing off-site fire risk and we welcome its new guidance.  UKTFA’s Separating Distance Guidance is based on the latest scientific knowledge and provides the industry with a sound basis to help control the risks of projects involving timber frame structures.”

Dave Curry, Director, Chief Fire Officers Association: “The UKTFA has to be commended for the way in which it has dealt with this issue.  I would urge the other trade associations representing the primary methods of construction in the UK to sit up and take note.”

The full Guidance is available for download from

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