Timber industry consultation on cladding guidance and fire safety

The Timber Trade Federation (TTF), Wood Protection Association (WPA), and Timber Decking and Cladding Association (TDCA) are, as a group, consulting with members and TRADA over proposed changes to industry guidance for timber cladding on multi-occupancy buildings.

Currently guidance from Building Regulations does not always require a specific fire performance for timber cladding or balconies on buildings where the upper floor level is less than 18 metres above ground, which is considered by the Government to be of low risk to occupant safety.

However, the group believes by providing greater consistency, insurance and peace of mind against unforeseen circumstances, this will better maintain the confidence of building developers, owners and residents in the building system, and quell misperceptions about timber performance.

The TTF, WPA and TDCA is therefore consulting members on the following guidance:

“The TTF, WPA and TDCA believe that an independent, professional fire risk assessment that considers building design, use, materials and location is essential at the design stage for multi-occupancy and assembly buildings, such as community centres and schools, even below 18 metres in height.

“This principle of risk assessment has been embodied in the Construction Design and Management Regulations for some years and has recently been reinforced by MHCLG in a circular letter to Building Control in England and Wales.

“The TTF, WPA and TDCA recommend that in multi-occupancy and assembly buildings, timber-based cladding and balcony components should be treated using a quality assured factory-applied flame retardant to Euroclass B, unless shown NOT to be necessary by an appropriate risk assessment process.

“There are many factors which affect a buildings overall fire performance, and such risk assessments may demonstrate that by means of careful design and component specification, flame retardant treatment is not necessary.”

Further notes: Fire safety must always be a part of the design portfolio; however, an independent fire risk assessment is not normally required for domestic housing and buildings less than 3-storeys in height. It would be unusual for flame retardant treatment to be necessary in these circumstances, particularly where decorative timber cladding panels are mounted on an inert backing such as brickwork or concrete blocks.

Original Article provide by the Wood Protection Association