Fire safety of mass timber

A significant amount of fire research has been conducted on mass timber over the last 10 years in Canada. This has supported the successful design and construction of numerous low-, mid- and even high-rise timber buildings. This has also fostered the introduction of new provisions into the 2020 edition of the National Building Code of Canada which has made wood and mass timber construction more accessible. However, the fire performance of these systems remains to be a concern for many potential occupants or owners of these buildings, not to mention building officials and fire departments.

FPInnovations’ fire research group has led the development and supported implementation of mass timber construction by completing many standard and custom fire tests needed to demonstrate building code compliance. The results have been used for many mass timber buildings, which would have otherwise been required to be constructed using non-combustible construction.

Results have shown that mass timber elements, with or without gypsum board protection, can achieve significant fire resistance, beyond 3 hours in some cases. Tests have also shown that fire stops approved for concrete construction are suitable for CLT elements, so long as adequate detailing is provided. Research is ongoing for evaluating the fire performance of modern mass timber connections as well as developing advanced modeling and verification methods in support to performance-based fire design.

More information on the topic can be found here:

For more information on fire research, contact Christian Dagenais, Lead Scientist, or Bronwyn Chorlton, Scientist in the Building Systems group at FPInnovations.