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TIMBER FRAME FIRE HITS HEADLINES ONCE AGAIN

Firefighters deal with blaze on timber framed flats under construction

The BBC has reported how Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service has dealt with a fire at timber-framed flats under construction at Gershwin Road, Basingstoke.

There were fears the four-storey building could collapse and that the flames could spread to other properties due to prevailing wind conditions.

An investigation into the cause of the blaze is under way.

Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service Chief Officer, John Bonney said 

“When timber-framed buildings catch fire the actual structure burns. It often leads to total collapse and that puts the safety of our firefighters at risk.

The potential for fire spread was clearly of major concern at this incident, and shows that the Chief Fire Officers Association is right to be increasingly concerned about the number and severity of fires in timber-framed buildings under construction.”

Comment

Fires on timber frame structures make for good newspaper and YouTube copy. There is however a danger that the real risk to construction workers and the public could be over-estimated.

Many of the fires occur when the site is unoccupied and are probably a result of arson. We are not aware of any fire related fatalities or major injuries on timber frame construction projects.

The timber frame industry would probably argue that work in older buildings under refurbishment presents a far greater fire risk to construction workers.

However, insurance costs are the biggest issue the timber frame sector. Strict compliance with the Joint Code of Practice issued by the Association of British Insurers and the Chief Fire Officers Association is the best way to minimise fire risk and insurance costs. The UKTFA Fire Safety Guidance provides timber frame specific guidance to be followed.  

Site security and early warning systems are key precautions.

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