HSE backs UKTFA Guidance to deal with timber frame construction site fires

The UK Timber Frame Association (UKTFA) has today launched the definitive Guidance to building timber frame safely on sites in high-risk and densely populated areas, developed with the backing of the HSE.  The Guidance will drive the issue of fire risk management right back to the early stages of the specification process and ensure the main contractor has fully managed the fire risk and specified the correct type of timber frame in line with the Guidance.


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.  Called ‘Design guide to separating distances for timber frame buildings during construction’, the Guidance is the result of extensive fire testing and expert input from the fire engineering community 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).


Dr. Paul Newman, Director of the UKTFA says “Managing the risk of fire on construction sites is not a consideration for the timber frame community alone, it affects all forms of construction. The UKTFA has paved the way in setting a standard for main contractors to follow when managing site safety. We are delighted that the HSE and CFOA consider our Guidance worthy of their endorsement and pleased that they felt able to commend our proactive approach in setting fire safety standards.”


Philip White, chief inspector of construction, Health & Safety Executive, comments:  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 closing 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.”

The Guidance, which applies to structures over 600m2, is aimed at architects, designers, developers and contractors, enabling them to fully extract the benefits of timber frame construction and also assess the fire risk to neighboring buildings should a fire occur during construction – this was a requirement of HSG168 ‘Fire Safety in Construction’ published by the HSE in October 2010.  This Guidance is confined to the period during construction prior to the completion of fire resistant finishes.


The supporting technical data in this Guidance is based on extensive fire testing, carried out in August 2011 by the UKTFA, to determine the appropriate separating distances between buildings to minimise the heat radiation to neighbouring properties in the event of a construction site fire.  As a result of this test data, three generic categories of timber frame have been evolved with increasing resistance to fire spread and associated reduction in emitted heat to neighbouring properties. The user of this Guidance can select either a Category A, B or C frame type depending on the site conditions and distances to surrounding buildings – the critical point is that a recommended timber frame solution can be specified to suit the individual site location and conditions, no matter how challenging, even in densely populated inner city developments.


The Guidance is available for download from www.uktfa.com/fireriskmanagement




For further editorial information or to speak to the UKTFA please contact Emma Hayes on 07545 321 675 or emma@futurepr.uk.com

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