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Fire Safety Seminar Important to Trade in Timber

23 May 2005

Fire Safety Seminar Important to Trade in Timber Products

The New Zealand Forest Industries Council welcomes the APEC-led seminar on the fire safety of timber, starting in Wellington tomorrow.

The APEC region provides a critical and growing market for New Zealand timber exports but improving perceptions around the fire safety of timber products is vital to the future of that trade, chief executive Stephen Jacobi said.

"Timber construction is a relatively new development in many Asian countries.

"There is not the body of research that we have in New Zealand to support timber construction and this can contribute to regulatory frameworks and the management of fire risk that can unnecessarily impede market growth."

Studies have estimated the cost to suppliers and consumers of unnecessary and outdated approaches to fire safety regulation runs to billions of dollars in the region every year.

Mr Jacobi said it would be a surprise to many people living in the Asian member states of APEC how safe timber could be as a building product.

A recent report commissioned from the Building Research Association of New Zealand by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry concluded that timber buildings were safer than concrete or steel buildings. One of the reasons for that was fire safety - because timber chars at a relatively low rate its strength loss is low compared to steel.

The APEC Fire Safe Use of Timber in construction seminar runs from 24-26 May. NZFIC is sponsoring the seminar dinner.

ENDS

About Forestry

NZFIC represents and promotes the interests of all sectors involved in the New Zealand forest and wood processing industry. Membership comprises forestry companies and industry associations who collectively own, manage and process wood and paper products from a sustainable, planted production forest resource of 1.8 million hectares.

New Zealand forestry directly employs 26,000 people, accounts for just under 4 percent of GDP, has annual sales of more than $5 billion and is the country's third largest export earner at $3.5 billion annually. Through its Vision 2025, the industry aims to become New Zealand's largest export sector, directly employ 60,000 people, contribute 14 percent of GDP and record an annual turnover of $20 billion.

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