Timber frame buildings are extremely vulnerable to fire during construction. Fire chiefs warn the speed at which fires engulf sites puts the lives of construction workers and fire services at risk.
The way timber is arranged during the construction process allows fire to rip through sites in minutes and the last decade has witnessed many catastrophic site fires.
Most burn with such intensity that fire services rarely manage to extinguish them, preferring to let them burn out in a controlled way and dampen nearby buildings to prevent heat damage.
High profile cases
The alarm was sounded in the UK in 2006, when a blaze tore through a six-storey housing development under construction in Colindale North London, burning the structure to the ground in less than nine minutes.
In 2010, a construction site in Peckham, South London burned with such ferocity that it swept to nearby housing forcing tenants to be evacuated as the fire spread through their housing estate.
Vulnerable to arson
Arsonists cause most construction site fires. Sites are vulnerable to attack in the dead of night because the industry rarely employs 24-hour surveillance. The prohibitive cost of security means the industry has resisted calls to raise security, even to protect it its own valuable construction equipment.
According to the Arson Prevention Bureau fire claims rise when economic times are hard and youngsters are often the culprits.
Assembly issues wake-up call over fire risks in tall and timber-framed buildings
The Government must take urgent action to address a ‘crisis of confidence' about fire risks on timber-framed construction sites, and to improve fire safety for people living in tall buildings in London, a new report says today.