Fire and Multi-Story Wood Frame Structures

 

The apparent growth in the use of wood frame systems in multi-story non-residential buildings brings with it an additional amount of risk - particularly during construction.  As one news reporter observed, "The disadvantage of wood-framed buildings is obvious: wood burns." This has been proven recently in several high-profile and spectacular fires, but there are many more lesser-known  examples of the impact of using combustible materials.

To keep SFIA members informed about the trends and implications of wood framed construction, it has begun tracking examples that collectively are creating a mosaic of risk that should make insurers, building owners, and fire marshals uncomfortable.

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Marshall Square Retirement Community, Evans, GA
Date: June 2, 2015
Project Description:  3 story, 134-unit, wood framed senior residential.
Building Status:  Completed in December 2014, with 80 occupants.

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Taller wood frame buildings raise fire risk, firefighter group says
Concerns Raised as Ontario increases allowable height from four to six stories
CBC News, September 26, 2014

Firefighters are concerned changes that allow Ontario builders to erect taller wood frame buildings will pose a greater safety risk, citing last year's fire at a Kingston, Ont. housing complex under construction as an example of what could happen.
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UK Investigation Finds Timber Framed Buildings “Fire Risk” Despite Safety Test
BBC News London

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When is an Under-Construction Wood Frame Apartment Building at Risk?
Source: Oregonlive.com, May 16, 2014

After an arson fire that destroyed the unfinished Monroe Apartments in Northeast Portland last year, fire officials are insisting on increased security at similar construction sites. The building was one of a wave of mid-rise apartment projects built with several stories of wood framing.
Narrator: "The skeleton of the building is formed in wood that is basically stacked like a giant campfire.”

View the video here:  http://videos.oregonlive.com/oregonian/2014/05/when_is_an_under-construction.html
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ARTICLES OF INTEREST
Wood Framing Costs Go Up As Security is Ordered on Unfinished Wood Frame Buildings
Source: Oregonlive.com, May 16, 2014
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