Fire safety in timber buildings

It’s vitally important that your home or business has an adequate fire safety plan to help combat the risks that are posed in the event of a fire. Although most businesses are legally required to possess a thought-out and certified fire safety plan and various fire exits and extinguishers, fire safety in the home can often be neglected.

In the UK, the majority of our homes are built with bricks and stone, simply because this is what the rainy weather permits, providing ample insulation and water tightness in the face of that British weather. However, across the pond, in the likes of the USA as well as throughout Europe, many homes and buildings are built using timber.

This can make them more susceptible to the threat of fires and their rapid spread, with a large fire threatening the whole structural integrity of a building and spreading at a much faster rate.

This guide is designed to advise you on how to ensure that your timber buildings are meeting health and safety guidelines and are safeguarded against the potential threat of any fires that could occur, making these timber buildings safer to use, whether they form your home or workplace.

What is fire safety?

Fire safety seems like an obvious and important area of ensuring that your employees and family are safe, but many people neglect the vital rules of keeping their homes safe.

Fire safety effectively refers to the measures you take in your home or workplace to ensure that the chances of a fire occurring are reduced to a minimum – and that, in the event of a fire, the chance of the fire rapidly spreading is reduced as much as possible. This also means developing planned and tested fire escape routes as well as kitting out your home or workplace with extinguishers and other helpful aids.

Many different companies are throwing a lot of funding into the research and development surrounding fire safety products, and no example situations highlight this more than the research and innovation behind the Sunderland firm K & D Systems.

K & D Systems offer a selection of products, from smoke and fire curtains that suffocate the fire and prevent it from spreading to further safeguarding solutions surrounding apartments and timber buildings. Continue reading below to find out more about K & D Systems and their product range, as well as how they took their place among the leading names and fire curtain specialists across the UK.

Who are K & D Systems?

K & D Systems are experts in fire safety and fire prevention products, with over 30 years’ experience of working in the industry and constantly adapting to innovations and new technologies that will ultimately save lives in our workplaces and homes.

The company is based in the North East of England, with all of their design, production and manufacturing carried out from their Sunderland headquarters. This situation has enabled K & D Systems to safeguard and work with some of the country’s largest establishments.

K & D Systems have worked with the likes of Wembley Arena, the Derby-based Westfield Shopping centre, and major international airports in Birmingham and Gatwick to install cost-effective fire safety solutions. These have included fire and smoke curtains and shutters, as well as fire safety window and wall systems that are designed to counter the threat of a growing fire.

With a constant eye on innovation and bespoke design, K & D Systems offer excellent products and customer service that have allowed them to harvest strong and trusted relationships with their clients as well as deliver products that are durable and fit for purpose – and, most importantly, save lives. All of their products are independently checked by fire services to ensure that they are fit for purpose when a fire does occur.

Fire safety in timber buildings

The parameters that need to be taken or considered when working with timber buildings are very different to the equivalent parameters pertaining to standard brick-and-stone buildings that are common throughout the UK. However, although our homes are often made of bricks and mortar, many of us possess sheds, conservatories and extensions or loft spaces that aren’t made from the same durable materials.

Although fires can often affect different materials indiscriminately, the rapid spread of a fire is drastically increased when it comes to timber buildings.

Timber buildings are perhaps most common in countries where hotter and drier climates are more consistent, and a cool house is preferred to an insulated one. Timber is also cheaper than stone and brick. Still, how do you effectively combat a timber building against a fire and ensure that all of the fire safety measures are included in the structure?

  • Compartmentalisation in timber buildings

One of the main methods of preventing the spread of fire in timber buildings is by working fire safety solutions into the complex structural integrity and architecture of the building.

Similarly to the way that K and D systems fire curtains help compartmentalise certain spaces and reduce the rapid spread of fire, timber buildings should be compartmentalised by using certain materials to deflect the fire and halt its advance. This can be done by delivering certain insulation, thermal and integral systems room-to-room to ensure that the fire isn’t given the chance to spread further.

This process involves designing a timber building that is built with layered systems from the ground up, using different timber materials to stifle the growth of the fire. Architects in Sweden have proven that layered design from the floor up and room-to-room in timber structures helps to reduce the speed at which a fire can spread. These architects have advised that using a range of woods, from plywood to different veneers, can prove to be an effective fire safety solution.

The best means of ensuring that your timber buildings are adequately prepared in the face of a fire is by ensuring that they have been checked by a professional during the construction and design. Every building under construction now requires a fire safety assessment called a SHEVS assessment.

K & D Systems offer their services and provide advice on how their fire safety solutions, fire and smoke curtains and shutters and doors can provide adequate fire safety solutions. K & D Systems work with engineers and architects to ensure that buildings are erected with safety and evacuation in mind.

What types of products can help you with fire safety?

There are many different products available from K & D Systems that can help your business in the event of a fire. With many years of experience in the industry and a thorough understanding of how a fire can spread, K & D provide homes and businesses with smoke and fire curtains, barriers and shutters and doors that can help to prevent the spread of a fire. Here are just a few of the products available at K & D Systems…

  • Fire and smoke curtains

The fire and smoke curtains available from K & D Systems can be quickly manufactured and installed with as little hassle or disruption as possible. K & D manufacture bespoke fire curtains that are available at a width of any length and a maximum lowering drop of 8 metres to help reduce the spread of fire.

The durable and weighted materials from which the curtains are made help to compartmentalise open plan buildings and stop a fire from spreading by starving the flame of oxygen. These materials also reduce the chances of harmful chemical smoke spreading and suffocating the people inside the building.

A fire curtain can provide between 2 and 4 hours to help you to evacuate your building in time. The curtain can also help ensure that the fire brigade has the easiest job possible in extinguishing the flames with as little damage to the building as possible.

  • Fire rated windows and systems

K & D Systems also provide fireproof partition walls and door systems that serve as a more permanent solution in combatting those flames. Where a fire curtain can be lowered, a portioning wall can be a permanent fixture in your home or office space, offering solutions to put your mind at rest in the event of a fire.

Our windows, walls and door systems are fitted with fireproof glass as well as insulated wall space fitted with special boats and aluminium that can provide up to 90 minutes of thermal protection.

Is threat of fire a real problem in the UK?

Unlike in other countries, there often isn’t the threat of widespread fire issues that can occur in hotter countries. We’re constantly seeing forest fires ravaging European countryside and hillside neighbourhoods in the USA, but the wetter climates in the UK don’t really allow for this to happen.

The threat of fire in the UK is mostly penned down to neglect or arson. The neglect can be as minimal as failing to turn off electrical appliances when you’re not using them or choosing to ignore the potential signs of fire hazards in your home or workplace.

Should I complete a home or office risk assessment?

Completing a fire risk assessment in your home or office space can be your first step to ensuring that you are following all the necessary procedures to make sure your employees and family are safe should a fire start. These measures can be as simple as conducting regular fire drills to ensure that everyone is familiar with the fire escape route as well as being educated on the threat of fire and how to reduce its spread to a minimum.

You could ensure that your building’s doors are closed at night to prevent the circulation of smoke, verify that you have working fire alarms, and also turn off any electrical appliances when they are out of use.

K & D systems are dedicated to ensuring that your homes and businesses are adequately fireproofed and you’re constantly kept in the loop surrounding the changing innovations within the industry. We can also repair your fire safety systems as quickly as possible.

With a combined 100 years of experience across the fire safety industry, research and development, and engineering, our Sunderland-based team possess valuable insights into the way buildings are constructed, the pre-empted solutions that we need to supply, and how our products can benefit a business.

Don’t look past K & D Systems as your fire curtain manufacturing and installation specialists. Give us a call to begin the start of a long and trusted professional customer relationship.

7 reasons to trust K & D Systems

  1. We're amazing value for money: all our manufacturing takes place within our plant in Sunderland.
  2. We have a team there to respond to all quotes within 24 hours.
  3. Our installation team have over 30 years' fitting experience.
  4. All our smoke and fire curtains are independently tested either by Warrington or Chiltern Fire and are fully certified.
  5. We offer controlled descent and gravity fail safe systems.
  6. We are continually investing in research and development.
  7. We offer a 3 day turnaround time* on production.

*3 day turnaround time subject to certain restrictions; please ask us.