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Several Tall Wood Buildings Underway Despite Fire Concerns

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Despite concerns over the fire safety of tall wood buildings, several CLT (cross-laminated timber) buildings are underway in North America. Several fire experts and reports have recently been quoted in media articles expressing concerns over CLT connections and fire resistance claims here and here.
Research cites:
• "Firefighters will not be aware of the construction materials and methods used in the building; and will not be able to reliably predict the behavior of a fire starting in the building."
• "Claim of fire resistance should be accepted with reservation based on the enormous amount of heat released when a heavy timber building burns after it is ignited."
• "CLT element charring and separation from the assembly can result in increased charring rate and fire intensity."
• "Temperatures were significantly higher than standard time temperature curve according to EN-1363-1."

However, a new, dangerously tall 18-story timber-framed dormitory is under construction in British Columbia and will be the tallest mass wood hybrid building in the world. While the U.S. model codes currently limit wood construction to five stories, projects in New York and Oregon will be the first to see new high rises built with mass timber with code variances. 

NRMCA’s Build with Strength (BWS) campaign has built an advocacy network that will support our members in building codes, standards and rating systems at the state and local level. BWS  resources help members and state affiliates advocate for resilient construction, model legislation as well as offer free design assistance services to help developers move toward building better with concrete.
For more information, contact Tien Peng at

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