Report sets out fire risks of innovative construction methods

A new report investigating whether certain non-conventional methods of construction increase the risk of severe fires has been published by the NHBC Foundation.

Fire Performance of New Residential Buildings examines a range of non-traditional building methods ranging from factory-built modular systems through to innovative site-built constructions and reviews their likely fire performance. The increasing use of thermal insulating products, some of which are combustible, could result in such constructions being more susceptible to disproportionate damage in the event of fire, says the NHBC Foundation.

Methods considered include insulated concrete formwork, light timber frame, structural insulated panels, engineered floor joists, and light steel framing. The study focuses on medium rise, multi-occupancy residential buildings, as these have been identified as the highest risk in terms of both life safety and property protection.

Produced following a review of real fires data, case studies, the regulatory framework and input from a stakeholder group, the report presents the results of the study, identifying issues to be considered about fire safety of modern residential buildings.

Graham Perrior, acting group head of standards and technical at NHBC, said:

“While fire safety on construction sites is a matter for the Health and Safety Executive and, for completed homes, statutory regulations, NHBC Foundation has produced this new guide to provide useful information on the risks and best practice guidance for designers, builders and those involved in the fire safety aspect of new homes.”

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