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Late April's fire in central Manchester ( ajplus 08.05.07) brings into question the way we provide fire safety in buildings that are incomplete or under renovation. Other recent devastating blazes such as Colindale, where an adjacent building was also affected, and the Windsor Tower fire in Madrid, where renovations were in progress, illustrate the need to address this situation.

It is clear that incomplete buildings present a particular problem. Fire precautions and protective measures are not finished, therefore any fire is likely to be unrestricted. It is up to site contractors to be aware of the risk of fire spread. Should such an incident occur, the materials used for temporary barriers must be capable of providing some level of compartmentation.

There will be an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the fire, and the fact that burning debris appears to have ignited an adjacent, yet apparently unconnected building, will not be lost on the investigators. Indeed, this is something Approved Document B of the Building Regulations attempts to prevent.

Fire spread in very tall buildings could prove catastrophic in the crowded streets of a modern UK city. The investigation into this incident must ask the same questions that have arisen from the Colindale fire, and bear tall buildings in mind. We simply cannot continue to ignore the danger from fire in incomplete buildings.

David Sugden, chairman, Passive Fire Protection Federation

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