A London Assembly report has urged the government to tighten regulations on timber-framed buildings after several major fires in the city.

Blazes in Croydon and Peckham, in 2007 and 2009, caused severe damage to blocks of flats with wooden frames.

The report said there was a “crisis of confidence” in the construction method.

UK Timber Frame Association (UKTFA) said the report “confused the issue of timber-framed building fires with tall-building fires”.

The Department for Communities and Local Government said it was yet to receive the report but would consider its findings when it arrived.

Timber-framed buildings were banned after the Great Fire of London.

They were permitted again after a test on a mocked-up wooden-framed house in 1999 showed a fire could be contained.

Issue ‘cannot wait’

But the assembly has warned there is now a “significant level” of concern within the industry, because of several fires since then.

“This is an issue that cannot wait,” said Nicky Gavron, who chaired the committee which assessed the issue.

“There is a crisis of confidence about the safety of tall and timber-framed buildings, and the government and construction industry must act now to tighten regulations and reduce fire risk.

“As we construct at higher densities and with more environmentally-friendly materials, we will see more tall and timber-framed buildings.

“It is therefore vital to current and future residents that we get fire safety absolutely right,” he said.

Geoff Arnold, chairman of the UKTFA, said the report “dispels many of the industry myths surrounding the safety of timber-frame buildings post-completion”.

But added: “Where the report has limitations is that it further confuses the issue of timber-frame building fires with tall-building fires – they are not the same thing – and it’s important to note that the Lakanal House fire was in a concrete structure and not timber frame.”

Six people died when flames took hold of Lakanal House in Southwark, south London.

The safety of the highrise block has since been called into question.

Chairman of London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority Councillor Brian Coleman said: “Fire Brigades should of course be told when timber-framed buildings are being constructed given the higher fire risk they present, and the recommendation for improved security at construction phase is a no brainer.”

Source – BBC news