FeatureTimber Frame Method Needs Robust CDM Fire Safety Assessment

There are hundreds of fires on construction sites every year, risking the lives of workers and members of the public. Fire safety in construction focuses on preventing fires from starting and ensuring people's safety in the event of fire.

There are hundreds of fires on construction sites every year, risking the lives of workers and members of the public. Fire safety in construction focuses on preventing fires from starting and ensuring people's safety in the event of fire.

A succession of fires has led to increasing criticism of timber frames as a construction method. The December 2010 Fire Safety in London report called for the government to begin its planned review of fire regulations immediately rather than wait until 2012, due to concern over the safety of timber framed sites.

The Health & Safety Executive (HSE)’s May 2011 response (PDF, 206.18 KB, document 3) does not highlight any new timescale but refers to their second revision of HSG 168 Fire Safety in Construction (October 2010). HSG 168 explains how everyone involved in construction projects can comply with their legal duties relating to fire risks.

The onus is now on the client and the designer to justify the use of timber frames, with both giving consideration to the external environment and the use of other materials where necessary. HSE’s response also says that it will continue to work closely with the UK Timber Frame Association (UKTFA) and the Chief Fire Officers Association. There is now much greater focus by the HSE on timber frame sites, with distances to adjacent properties and their occupation being taken into consideration and, in extreme cases where fire risks are significant, prohibition notices being served.

HSG 168 addresses all those involved in developing and managing construction sites, including clients and designers, and is relevant to all construction projects, including small refurbishment sites. The sections covering high risk buildings such as timber frame have been strengthened to include lessons learned from recent fires.

Clients and designers are asked to

  • consider fire risks and precautions from the earliest stages of such a project
  • consider carefully the specific site, location and development
  • consider the fire risks posed to those on site and neighbouring properties
  • ensure those risks are minimised

Faithful+Gould’s CDM services help clients in every sector to meet their obligations in a timely, comprehensive and cost-effective way. We do more than just meet the regulatory requirements.

We provide real value by

  • influencing decision making at design concept stage
  • cataloguing and explaining risks to the project team
  • reducing costs
  • protecting client interests

Author

Jim Barron Senior CDM Co-ordinator Contact me

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