The timber frame industry has been put on the back foot after another major construction site fire – the third in a year.

A multi-storey apartment block was destroyed in the blaze in the centre of Hatfield on August 11. Hertfordshire Fire Service is investigating.

Contractor Mansell is carrying out a £10m contract on the site to develop 84 affordable homes for Metropolitan Housing Partnership together with St Mowden.

UK Timber Frame Association (UKTFA) chairman Stewart Dalgarno responded by insisting that timber frame posed no greater risk than any other form of construction. “Fire can hit any construction site and two-thirds of this type of blaze during construction are arson,” he said.

“The UKTFA is constantly looking at ways of improving management of risk, and new processes and new products are being introduced in this area. We have also spent a six-figure sum on research with wood for good to develop new technical guidance on fire safety.”

Arch Timber Protection recently launched a fire retardant product VACSOL FR to help protect timber frames during construction. “This unfortunate incident should not be allowed to affect the timber frame industry,” said marketing manager Janet Brown.

Osmose has developed the Protim FrameGuard system. “Osmose is in discussion with the timber frame industry to ascertain if such a system would be an advantage,” the company said.

Other major timber frame construction fires occurred at the University of Northumbria in Newcastle and in London.