Timber Frame Construction
Recent events and the associated press have highlighted the seriousness of construction site fires, particularly where timber frame is adopted, and the consequences they have on communities.
In the UK development land is scarce. As a result, developments are often proposed in inner city locations, on brownfield or similar sites, which are often heavily surrounded by existing buildings and properties. To address the risks associated with construction site fires in general, HSG 168 was published. This however did not adequately address the risks associated with timber construction and, as a result, a further guidance document was prepared by the UK Timber Frame Association (UKTFA) and HSE collaboratively. This document addresses itself solely to timber frame construction and proposes different classes of fire resistant timber frame based upon the relative closeness of the proposed site to surrounding properties.
It is a reality that when this guide is implemented for many urban developments, some degree of fire resistant timber is required to address the fire risk. This is cost prohibitive and can often be the difference between adopting timber as the base build material, or adopting an alternative, such as masonry.
Recently, Trenton Fire have been appointed by some of the UK’s largest property development organisations to provide an alternative means of addressing fire risk on UK timber frame construction sites. Clients currently include the Stewart Milne Group and Crest Nicholson.
Trenton Fire’s approach is simple and provides flexibility in terms of addressing risk, which the UKTFA/HSE guidance does not afford. Trenton Fire, like the UKTFA/HSE guidance, utilise radiation based assessments to manage separating risks between developments and neighbouring buildings.
However, where separating distances are found to be unacceptable, Trenton propose novel solutions, such as considered work programming, suppression alternatives and radiation barrier façade proposals, which provide the client with flexible options that can be considered alongside a ‘compliant’ UKTFA/HSE design.
Trenton Fire’s proposals are well received by the Health and Safety Executive who have endorsed our approach on a number of different projects.
Alongside an assessment of separation risk and proposed mitigating measures, Trenton Fire prepare a comprehensive construction phase ‘fire strategy’ which provides guidance concerning means of escape and warning for site personnel and also guidance concerning first aid fire fighting provisions. For very large timber frame sites, Trenton Fire will also undertake an inter-site fire spread assessment to limit potential losses on site, should a fire occur.