Why architects need to consider fire safety from the outset?

In a recent news article published by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE), they report a firm of architects being fined for safety failings in the construction of a new timber frame care home in Hemlington.

The court heard that Mario Minchella Ltd did not provide contractors with relevant information about the flammability of the timber frame used in the construction of the new building in October 2012.

During a routine inspection, the HSE found that the separation distance between the new timber frame building under construction and an adjacent occupied care home was insufficient.

Therefore, if the timber frame caught fire there was a serious risk that the radiant heat would cause the fire to spread to the neighbouring property putting the lives of residents and staff inside at risk.

The HSE found that there was nothing in the design specification produced by the architects to alert construction workers erecting the timber frame to the additional fire risk it created, and the need to take action accordingly.

The court was told that it would have been reasonable for Mario Minchella Ltd to have specified in its design that fire-resistant timber be used or that it considered the sequence of construction so that the timber frame of each floor was clad before the next one was constructed, reducing the amount of timber exposed at any one time.

Mario Minchella Ltd, of Swallow House, Parsons Road, Washington, Tyne and Wear, was fined a total of £1,500 after pleading guilty to two breaches of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007. The company was also ordered to pay £816 costs.

You can read the full report on this case and the HSE’s response on the Health & Safety Executive website.

Not only does this re-enforce the importance of fire engineering input  for timber frame construction  but also why architects and design teams need to collaborate with fire engineering consultants as early in the project as possible.


Fire engineering for timber framed buildings

We have a number of fire engineering consultants that specialise in fire safety for timber framed buildings. If you have a timber frame building project that you would like to discuss, contact Tenos today.