A firm of architects, Mario Minchella Ltd, were recently fined for safety failings in the construction of a new timber frame care home in Hemlington. Middlesborough
It emerged in October 2012, following an inspection by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) that, in fire safety terms, the new structure would be too close to an existing, neighbouring care home. The development was considered a fire risk and, if it caught fire, the fire may spread to the neighbouring building.
The court concluded that the separation distance between the buildings, as designed by Mario Minchella was insufficient. The failings of the architectural firm were summarised as follows:
Mario Minchella entered a plea of guilty over two breaches of the CDM (Construction Design and Management) Regulations 2007.
The case demonstrates the reality and responsibility of managing fire risk in timber frame construction. The HSE is now placing greater onus on the role of the designer with the need to consider the spacing of timber framed structures in the early design stages and has consequently issued an open letter to the industry.