The London Assembly has warned that an urgent investigation of fire regulations on timber-framed construction sites is needed, Construction News reported.
A report from the assembly’s planning and housing committee has called for a planned review of fire regulations to be brought forward from 2012 to address a “crisis of confidence” about the risks on timber-framed construction sites.
The report was initiated as a result of recent blazes of timber-framed buildings under construction, including one in Camberwell in November 2009 and one in Peckham in January 2010.
One fire on a timber-framed building being built in Colindale in July 2006 was so fierce that, although no one was injured, the housing complex collapsed within 20 minutes.
The assembly has warned there is now a “significant level” of concern within the industry.
“This is an issue that cannot wait,” said Nicky Gavron, who chaired the committee which assessed the issue, the Construction Enquirer website reported.
The committee is particularly concerned about half constructed buildings, which have proved extremely vulnerable to fire. It is calling for a ban on workers' living on site at any major scheme where elements are under construction.
Other recommendations include more frequent inspections by building control inspectors to ensure sites are secure and that fire-stopping measures are being installed.
The assembly also wants a duty on builders to notify the fire brigade immediately when timber-framed projects commence construction so they can plan ahead should there be a fire. Another recommendation is for full surveillance of sites outside working hours to prevent arson attacks.
Gavron added: “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.”
The Department for Communities and Local Government said it was yet to receive the report but would consider its findings when it arrived.