Timber frame manufacturers and builders employing the construction method need to look at their onsite fire precautions to deliver “above what is reasonable” in order to safeguard the sector, according to International Fire Consultants (IFC) Ltd.

Jerry Quayle, director at IFC Certification Ltd, spoke to TTJ after visiting the Hatfield site where fire destroyed a multi-storey timber frame apartment block under construction, and said that the cause of the blaze remained a mystery to the fire brigade.

But, despite saying that those in charge of the site had done “everything they could” to protect the site, he said there remained a need for developers using timber frame to look at their safety systems.

“Each of the organisations has to review onsite precautions and deliver above what is reasonable,” said Mr Quayle. “Otherwise other [construction] sectors will use [fire] to denigrate timber frame.”

He added that the fire brigade involved in the Hatfield investigation was “eager to improve awareness” of timber frame construction.

According to Mr Quayle, the fire service was largely unaware of modern methods of construction, including engineered timber. This lack of awareness, he added, could hinder its ability to tackle incidents.

Meanwhile, Mr Quayle said the timber fire escapes at the Penhallow Hotel in Newquay were one of the main features to survive the fire that destroyed the building last weekend.

Cornwall County Fire Brigade told TTJ that “these fire escapes were affected by the fire insomuch as there were charred portions and they had therefore been alight at some stage”, adding “it is clear that many people escaped from the building via the external timber fire escapes”.