One of the biggest misconceptions about timber buildings is that they do not perform well in fire. Although mass timber elements can be encapsulated in gypsum wallboard or a similar material to achieve the required fire-resistance rating, most designers and owners prefer to leave the timber elements exposed. Due to their inherent size, mass timber elements can in many cases be engineered to achieve the required fire resistance by using the initial charred region to provide insulation to the timber beneath. While building codes generally recognize at least two prescriptive means of demonstrating fire resistance of exposed mass timber elements (char calculations and fire-tested assemblies), a third option not often considered in the US is performance-based fire engineering. This video includes a discussion I had with Matt Smith of Entuitive where we explored the design aspects of this approach and how it can be implemented on mass timber projects.
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