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Government rejects tougher timber frame fire rules

The department for Communities and Local Government (CLG) has rejected demands by the London Assembly to toughen up timber frame building rules

Assembly members in December published a report calling for measures aimed at reducing the risk of fire on timber frame buildings.

Responding to public outcry after a fire on a building in Camberwell, south London, killed six people, the report asked for more building control inspections and for social landlords to publish a fire risk register.

Despite the fire and subsequent report the government has decided to retain current regulations governing timber framed buildings. A spokesperson for the department confirmed its view that ‘further regulation is not an appropriate approach at this time’.

A statement explained: ‘Many of the concerns around timber-framed construction relate to risks during the construction phase and the Health and Safety Executive, who lead on construction safety, are now working closely with the industry to find technical solutions that address these risks.

‘The fire sector has already taken steps to develop and agree, across industry, criteria against which to assess the competency of those offering fire risk assessment services, and for this to form the basis of an accreditation or registration schemes on which “responsible persons” can rely.’

The UK Timber Frame Association was unavailable to comment.

 

Communities and Local Government statement

We thank the London Assembly for their report. While the London Assembly have been preparing their report, the Department has not been idle. We have been looking at these issues with the fire and rescue service, the industry and the Health and Safety Executive and we continue to look at what steps can be taken, within the sector, to improve standards and which would be more effective than simply regulating. On the basis of these discussions, we have concluded that further regulation is not an appropriate approach at this time.

Many of the concerns around timber-framed construction relate to risks during the construction phase and the Health and Safety Executive, who lead on construction safety, are now working closely with the industry to find technical solutions that address these risks.

We have recognised the need for guidance on managing fire safety in purpose built blocks of flats. We are therefore working with the Local Government Group and other sector partners to develop appropriate fire safety guidance for landlords across all housing sectors. We expect this to clarify a number of issues in relation to fire safety management and to ensure that the residents in these buildings get appropriate advice from their landlords on what to do in the event of a fire.

The fire sector has already taken steps to develop and agree, across industry, criteria against which to assess the competency of those offering fire risk assessment services, and for this to form the basis of an accreditation or registration schemes on which ‘responsible persons’ can rely.

Readers' comments (2)

  • The fire that killed 6 in Camberwell was in an existing RC frame building, not a timber frame building.
    The Peckham timber frame fire that was actually in question did not kill anyone.

    Unsuitable or offensive?

  • The picture seems to show a warehouse and not a timber framed building!

    Unsuitable or offensive?

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