Largest Ever Mass Timber Building Fire Test to Be Conducted This June by Researchers in Ottawa, Canada

In a project to support market acceptance of tall and large mass timber buildings in Canada, the Canadian Wood Council (CWC) has partnered with both federal and provincial governments to conduct a series of five separate fire research burns on a full-scale mass timber structure in Ottawa.

The largest burn is scheduled for some time in June and will take place in a two-story, 3700-foot structure. The following burns are scheduled throughout this summer.

The CWC notes that mass timber construction is revolutionizing the building industry as a renewable, nature-based construction material. Recognizing mass timber’s vital role in achieving a low carbon, built environment, the CWC and its partners are dedicated to advancing its adoption. The fact that Canada (according to the CWC) has the most certified sustainable forests in the world and is a champion of sustainable forest management places the country in a position to solidify its global leadership in the bioeconomy and forest sector by advancing mass timber adoption.

The CWC and its partners say that by designing and executing a series of demonstration fire research burns on a full-scale mass timber structure, and collecting data from these burns, their objectives are to:

  • Showcase, through fire demonstration tests, that mass timber construction is a safe and viable alternative to other more conventional construction systems (steel and concrete) for constructing large or tall building;
  • Support the implementation and adoption of the 2020 edition of the National Building Code of Canada; and
  • Support the transition to performance-based codes and future code change proposals to extend the use of mass timber to other building types, heights, and sizes and increase the amount of exposed timber permitted.

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