2005 - 03 - 17

*Wood and concrete on collision course in Norway

Modern wooden houses are fire safe and a comparison of new and old wooden buildings is quite irrelevant as far as fire safety is concerned, says Mr Aasmund Bunkholt, Managing Director of TreFokus, in a comment to the publicity campaign against wooden constructions in urban areas staged by the Norwegian concrete and mortar industry.

"Everybody knows that wood burns; everybody knows that mortar and concrete don’t" is the primary message in the concrete and mortar industry's advertisements. Reference is made to big fires in Norwegian cities and towns with wooden houses. Mr Lars Sponheim, Minister for Agriculture and Food, has been made the subject of heavy criticism because he advocates increased use of wood for building purposes.

The point is that we know how wood burns and therefore we can take the appropriate precautions against fire hazard, says Mr Bunkholt. International and national legislation, standards and other provisions have created an entirely new framework and a much more stable basis for using wood for building purposes. Modern wooden multi-floor houses in towns and cities fulfil all requirements, both from the technical and from the security point of view.

Mr Bunkholt emphasizes the importance of reference projects where fire safety of wooden houses has demonstrably been taken into account, in addition to time adapted architecture, choice of appropriate materials and good solutions of constructional problems.

Lately a great number of multi-floor housing blocks of wood have been built all over Norway. Their fire safety is documented in a separate fire safety report drawn up by centrally authorized fire safety consultants, says Mr Bunkholt.