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Tue October 27 2020

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London fire chief criticises timber-frame buildings

16 Jul 10 The chairman of the London Fire Authority has criticised the growing use of timber-frame construction in high rise buildings following an investigation into last year's Peckham fire.

The chairman of the London Fire Authority has criticised the growing use of timber-frame construction in high rise buildings following an investigation into last year's Peckham fire.

The fire, which destroyed two tower blocks that had almost been completed and damaged neighbouring buildings, followed a similar blaze in Croydon in 2007, where another timber-frame tower block burned to the ground.

But an investigation by the BBC suggests that the construction method has proliferated since a BRE test in 1999 on a six-storey timber framed building in a aircraft hangar, where a fire was effectively controlled. The results of the BRE study were used for marketing purposes by the UK Timber Frame Association.

The investigation also found that 29 out of the 32 London boroughs have no idea how many buildings have been constructed using timber-frame construction methods.

Brian Coleman, chairman of the London Fire Authority, said: "I have always been a stern critic of high rise timber framed buildings having seen in my own area the results of a blaze.

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"Sadly, these days developers looking to build things quicker and cheaper have resorted to timber.

"Supporters of timber frame buildings say once they're built they're completely safe. But we know people drill holes in walls which damages the building fabric and allows the timber to become exposed.

"I personally wouldn't allow any high rise timber buildings - there needs to be a review of regulations.

"What we do about buildings already constructed I'm not sure."

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