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TIMBER FRAME BUILDING FIRE RISK DEBATE

Trade body calls for withdrawal of “misleading and inaccurate report”

The UK Timber Frame Association has called from withdrawal of a RISCAuthority Report  BDM14 on fire in timber frame buildings. The report was drafted by the Fire Protection Association.

The report draws parallels between fire statistics for timber frame buildings in the US and the UK. The UKTFA states that the report as “highly misleading, technically inaccurate, lacks any credible substance”. 

Timber frame is here to stay

Jim Glockling, technical director of the Fire Protection Association, which administers the RISCAuthority, said it was working with the UKTFA towards a “common goal of ensuring that timber-frame structures may be insured on an equitable basis to conventional building methods”. He said: “New construction methods may alter the business and property loss potential and need to be fully understood.”

Geoff Arnold, past chairman of the UKTFA said: 

“We accept that the timber frame industry has had to work hard to limit the risk of fire on construction sites but this document is quite clearly stating that the growth of lightweight timber frame will have ‘significant implications for the insured environment which may extend to the safety of firefighting personnel and building occupants alike’. In fact, if the FPA had done their job properly and employed a professional statistician to carry out this study, the exact opposite conclusion would have occurred.

From a statistical evidence point of view the report completely ignores the fundamental law of analysis that correlation does not mean causation – this is the first indicator that its author is out of his depth. There are great swathes of unjustified assumptions made throughout the report, which are then treated as facts. Warnings about the accuracy of the underlying assumptions in the source data are not replicated in the RISC report which further misleads the reader.

With clear sustainability credentials and an ability to deliver high performance low energy buildings, timber frame is here to stay. We welcome constructive dialogue on how the performance of timber frame can be further improved but inaccurate sensationalistic reports such as this by an organisation that purports to represent the insurance industry are at best unhelpful and at worst misleading.”

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