During the planning, construction, and occupancy of a building, fire safety is a priority. All building materials experience negative impacts from exposure to fire.
No matter what material is being used, modern building codes ensure all building systems meet stringent fire safety requirements. Reductions in number of fires and lives lost in fire are testimony to stringent fire safety requirements in modern building codes.
Fire protection must be taken very seriously and it is essential that fire safety policies and procedures are followed—during construction, as well as post-occupancy. When fire protection systems are in place, fire can be effectively managed. Once a building is occupied, automatic sprinklers provide the best safeguard for occupant life safety from fire. Fire departments are called upon to control fires in non-sprinklered buildings almost 3 times more often. Fires in sprinkler-protected buildings were smaller with almost 97% of fires contained to the room of origin.
In occupied buildings, methods to mitigate impacts on occupant life, safety and property protection from fire can include:
- Gypsum encapsulation
- Automatic Sprinkler
- Fire detectors and evacuation plan
- Fire department consultation and approval
When mass timber is exposed to fire, the outer layer burns and creates a protective charring layer, a natural protection against fire. Char acts as insulation and delays the onset of heating of the cold layer of wood below. Because of mass timber’s density, it means there are no empty spaces that air and fire can travel in.
In a fire, the char forms on mass timber at a predictable rate, slowing combustion, while retaining strength and allowing time to evacuate the building.
RESEARCH AND RESOURCES
- reThink Wood Research Library
- Construction Fire Safety Practices
- Underwriters Laboratories (UL)
- Fire Resistance Directory
- National Design Specification® (NDS®) for Wood Construction.® Chapter 16 (IBC 722.1)
- US Gypsum Fire Resistance Design Manual GA-600 (IBC 721.1)
- Intertek Directory of Listed Products
- US Fire Statistics, FEMA, US Fire Administration