Structural Stability of Engineered Lumber in Fire Conditions
Under a U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Assistance to Firefighter Grant, this UL study, in collaboration with the Chicago Fire Department, Michigan State University, and the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC), aims to understand the hazards to firefighters posed by the use of lightweight construction of wood trusses and engineered lumber in roof and floor designs, a material that is increasingly replacing conventional solid joist construction in residential structures. This project investigates and compares the fire performance of each.
The tests, in combination with fire performance data on lumber, enable fire professionals to better interpret hazards and assess safety of building occupants and firefighters.
- Battling the Hidden Danger – FireRescue Magazine: February 2010 – pp 72
- Structural Collapse: The Hidden Dangers of Residential Fires – Fire Engineering University Continuing Education Course
- Structural Stability of Engineered Lumber in Fire Conditions – The Fire & Security Authority: 2009 Issue 3 – pp 1
- Working to Live: Making Fire Fighting Safer – International Fire Fighter: January/February 2009 – pp 20
The results of this study were largely in accord with what the fire service knew or suspected about lightweight construction, but now hard data exists to understand the magnitude of the problem.
Lightweight construction materials are prone to collapse and pose a significant hazard to firefighters. The increased potential for sudden and catastrophic structural failure presented by lightweight construction must be addressed through revised fire and rescue practices and involvement in the code development process.
Several tactical considerations were developed based on the results of these experiments, offering options that can help reduce risks on the fireground. These tactical considerations include topics such as fire growth and propagation, structural stability, roof operations, and the use of thermal imaging cameras during size-up.