Fire Safety in The Timber Frame Construction Phase
Updated: Mar 4, 2020
Even before a home is complete fire plays a risk. The HSE estimates that there are around 11 construction fires every day. Losses suffered by the construction industry have been estimated at around £400 million a year - over £1 million every day (Source: UK Government's Health and Safety statistics 2018). The Government’s annual UK fire statistics show that two thirds of fires in construction industry premises are started deliberately. Motives range from revenge, fraud, and crime concealment to simple vandalism.
A timber framed building under construction. The exposed timbres present a fire risk before construction is complete. The FCam system can reduce that risk.
Fires in multi-storey timber frame buildings during construction have hit the headlines primarily because of the severity of the fire and rapid collapse of the unprotected frame. Timber frames will burn faster and more completely when the panels are incomplete and not yet protected by the usual internal fire-resistant plasterboard and external cladding.
The Structural Timber Association describes the risk of fire during this phase of construction as follows:
‘In a completed building, the timber components are protected from the effects of fire by internal linings and external claddings. During construction however, the temporary exposed timber frame structure may present a risk of fire spread across the site, creating a safety risk to people and property beyond the site boundaries. For buildings under construction there are no codes or standards that provide technical guidance to determine what the safe fire space separation should be to existing buildings outside of the site boundary.’
As we are becoming increasingly aware of the impact we are having on our environment, we cannot afford to ignore the significant environmental sustainability benefits that come from timber frame construction, or its cost efficiencies, because of a risk in one area. Particularly when the risk can be reduced through taking simple precautions, ensuring good design and site security whilst adopting safe working practices.
The 16 Steps to Fire Safety on Timber Frame Construction Sites, UKTFA Guidelines and Recommendations outlines clear ways that fires can be prevented during this phase of construction. We recommend reading and understanding this document fully, but we’re proud to say that our FCAM Series supports these precautions and can make a real difference to fire detection in the construction industry.
Step 9 Fire Detection and Warning
"Early detection of a fire, and established routines for evacuation in the event of a fire, with clear responsibilities allocated to call the fire service, shall be established by the principal contractor."
The emphasis here is on EARLY detection, which the Fcam Series excels at. Clear responsibility to call the fire service is best given to an external monitoring station - and with a live real-time view of what's happening and any fire developing they are best placed to get an urgent response from the fire service.
"Detectors and alarm systems are to be proportionate to the scale of the project and risk of fire spread to surrounding neighbours, and vulnerability of neighbours, outside the site boundary."
The FCam Series allows proportionate detection regardless of the scale of the site or the risk - a single camera can detect a small fire at up to 180m, and there is no limit to the number of cameras on one system. The scalable nature of the FCam Series makes it ideal for any size site, from very small to extremely large. It is also possible to easily relocate the cameras as the build progresses and the risk profile changes.
"Additional fire warning elements proportionate to the site, such as fire detection by CCTV, at agreed locations."
Fire detection by CCTV is exactly what the FCam Series does. It is quicker and more reliable than any other fire detection method in use on construction sites today.
Step 11 Site Security
"Construction site fires are known to be commonly the result of deliberate and determined malicious damage. All sites should be enclosed and made secure with appropriate security measures put in place. The security measures may expand to include CCTV and watchmen depending on the scale of the project."
The FCam Series does both. It rapidly detects any actual fire, but it also provides a live CCTV image to a monitoring centre (with external analytics or additional movement sensors) which can also be used to detect intruders and prevent deliberate fires being lit in the first place.
The use of innovative technology is at the heart of what we do at Ciqurix - our FCam Series is a revolutionary fire detection solution, combining infrared and visual feeds with built-in algorithms creating the most accurate, reliable fire detection solution available today.
Cost effective, simple to use, and with proven reliability – find out more about the Ciqurix FCam Series today to limit your exposure to the damaging effects of fire on your site.
Pic credit: South Invisible. Reproduced under Creative Commons agreement.