Safety

  • MEC Head Office, Vancouver, B.C.
    MEC Head Office, Vancouver, B.C.
    Photo: KK Law
    Bow River Pedestrian Bridge
    Bow River Pedestrian Bridge
    Photo: StructureCraft Builders Inc.
    Shake table test on a 6-storey wood frame building.
    Shake table test on a 6-storey wood frame building.
    Photo: FPInnovations

Wood's structural performance capabilities make it appropriate for a broad range of applications, from small structures to the larger and heavier mass timber systems. Engineered wood and mass timber products offer exceptional stability and strength and have made wood a viable choice in many applications where long spans and tall walls are required, such as arenas, schools and other large buildings.

Building codes require all building systems to perform to the same level of safety, regardless of material used. Wood-frame, wood-hybrid and mass timber construction have a proven safety and performance record for a full range of conditions including fire, seismic and wind.

Wood is fire resistant

Wood-frame, wood-hybrid and mass timber construction and building systems have proven safety and performance records for fire protection, and wood buildings can be designed to meet fire-resistance ratings. The addition of sprinkler systems, fire-resistance-rated wall and floor/ceiling assemblies, and open spaces around the building can be used to increase the allowable size of wood structures. 

Wood is significantly less heat-conductive than steel or concrete. Heavy and mass timbers have a particular advantage in a fire because they char on the outside while retaining strength, slowing combustion and allowing time to evacuate the building. Mass timber construction combines the beauty of exposed wood with the strength and fire resistance of mass timber products. 

 

Wood delivers seismic performance

Wood-frame, wood-hybrid and mass timber construction and building systems have proven safety and performance records for fire protection, and wood buildings can be designed to meet fire-resistance ratings. The addition of sprinkler systems, fire-resistance-rated wall and floor/ceiling assemblies, and open spaces around the building can be used to increase the allowable size of wood structures. 

Wood is significantly less heat-conductive than steel or concrete. Heavy and mass timbers have a particular advantage in a fire because they char on the outside while retaining strength, slowing combustion and allowing time to evacuate the building. Mass timber construction combines the beauty of exposed wood with the strength and fire resistance of mass timber products. 

Wind resistance

All buildings are at risk of experiencing damage during high winds. Each structure, with its own unique set of characteristics such as stiffness, strength and shape, reacts differently to wind loads. Wood's light weight and flexibility make it ideal for areas prone to high wind. One of wood’s characteristics is that it can carry substantially greater maximum loads for short durations, as is the case during high wind events. 

Wood is strong and most wood-frame, mass timber and wood-hybrid buildings offer the advantage of repetitive members and multiple connections. Together, this creates redundant load paths to effectively transfer wind forces from the building envelope to the foundation and soil below. When properly attached to  framing, structural panels such as plywood or oriented strand board (OSB) form solid and stable roofing, flooring and wall systems. When used to form diaphragms and shear walls, these wood products are exceptional at resisting high winds.