The Chief Fire Officers Association and Health and Safety Executive (HSE) have backed the timber frame industry’s newly launched guidance to deal with timber frame construction fires.

The long-awaited guidance, published by the UK Timber Frame Association, is designed to help architects and contractors specify the correct timber frame system in densely populated areas, design in the correct separating distances with surrounding existing properties and manage the site effectively to minimise fire risk.

The guidance was formulated in the wake of a number of serious timber frame construction site fires in built-up areas.

“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,” the UKTFA said.

The HSE said the guidance provided the construction industry with a sound basis to help control the fire risk of projects involving timber frame.

Dave Curry, director of the Chief Fire Officers Association, commended the UKTFA for its work and urged other trade associations representing primary constructing methods to “sit up and take note”.

UKTFA testing has resulted in three generic categories of timber frame being created with increasing resistance to fire spread and reduction of emitted heat to neighbouring properties.

These are – standard open panel construction, fire retardant treatment of open panel timber frame and sheathing, and closed panel treated frame and sheathing with pre-installed insulation.

Timber frame companies contributing to the guidance included Intelligent Wood Systems, Stewart Milne Timber Systems, Kingspan Potton, Walker Timber Group, Muir Timber Systems, Prestoplan and Scotframe. Others included Gang Nail, Wolf, ITW Industry and Regal Carpentry.

The UKTFA has established a test and approval protocol for systems and product mixes that has undergone the methodology described in the guidance. The list of systems and products are available from the UKTFA website.

It also has several classifications – FR Build – flame retardants acceptable to the UKTFA based on the Wood Protection Association (WPA) benchmark audit scheme and approvals, plus FI Build – for appropriate insulation material acceptable to the UKTFA (suitable for off-site installation)

So far, approved products include Intelligent Wood Systems/Arch flame retardant treatment system. Its approval relates to use on studs, 9mm ply sheathing, timber joists and 18mm ply decking, as well as with Kingspan Therma TW55 and Kingspan Kooltherm K12 insulation. Open-web joists (MiTek, Gang-Nail, ITW and Wolf) treated with the IWS system are also approved.

To see the full UKTFA report click here