2 January 2018
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A paper written as a collaboration between AECOM fire engineers and structural engineers in an effort to elevate the subject and improve our mutual understanding of structural performance in fire. Intended as a high-level introduction for practising structural engineers.
Construction site fires can be significant events creating risks to life safety as well as causing extensive property damage. During the build process, timber-frame structures can be vulnerable to ignition, whether from a construction process, accident or arson attack. This paper describes the thinking and background behind the fire model underpinning risk-mitigation techniques used for structural timber buildings. The work has evolved from over six years of industry-based research and fire testing, which has led to the Health and Safety Executive endorsing the principles presented. Martin Milner has been the project manager and engineer representing the Structural Timber Association on this work.
The Grenfell Tower tragedy in London last June was a stark reminder of how rapidly a fire can spread and the horror which it can cause. In the wake of this disaster, the UK construction industry is actively examining what can be done to minimise the risk of similar tragedies in the future. It is likely that one of the recommendations will be a clearer identification of responsibilities, but whatever the outcome it will clearly be helpful for all members of the design team to have a good understanding of all aspects of fire safety, as well as detailed knowledge about those aspects under their direct control.