Fire Prevention & Protection, Health & Safety, Structural Firefighting

Mass Timber Construction in High-Rise Residential Structures: How Safe Is It?

Issue 1 and Volume 171.

By Philip Paff The evolution in building materials and construction methods is adding to the challenges and risks firefighters face under fire or rescue conditions. Among these relatively “new arrivals” in the burgeoning area of engineered timbers are engineered bearers or laminated headers, which many of us have already met in residential structures. Whether their use is propelled by economics or dwindling resources, they are here to stay and probably will evolve even further. What might come as a surprise, though, is that through some clever engineering and upscaling on an industrial level, engineered timbers—such as cross-laminated timber (CLT) and glued laminated timber (glulam) systems—are now used in multifloor or high-rise construction. (1) A cross-laminated timber stack used as open span flooring. The circle indicates a single section. (Photo by author.) A class of timber product known as mass timber construction, CLT employs a method of laminating structural grade lengths…

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