A Fire Chief’s opinion of using timber framing in buildings

Chief Lohr's stance on building with timber-framing

Timber framing is combustible yet is widely used in construction and in some countries, it’s the most commonly used method of construction. So why continue to use timber framing when there is a safer, better, alternative solution in cold formed steel (CFS) construction?Steel doesn’t contribute fuel to a fire and if a fire starts in a steel-framed home it’s less likely to spread than a fire starting in a timber framed home.

Fire results in thousands of lost homes, deaths and injuries each year. Many of these terrible losses are contributed to by flammable framing, and can be avoided by the use of steel framing.

In this blog, we share a video about the perspectives of a fire-fighting expert as we look at the fire risks that timber framing poses to buildings. Constructing with CFS framing is the best (and the obvious) alternative method which answers this fire safety problem that timber-framing poses.

 

The emergence of the importance fire safety in US construction methodologies

With the incidence of major fires in timber frame mid-rise buildings increasing in the USA, and modifications in recent code cycles permitting height and area changes, the issue of fire safety was the hot topic of discussion at a recent Steel Framing Industry Association (SFIA) Executive Forum in Montgomery County, Texas. 

The Forum featured Steve Lohr, the highly-experienced Chief of the Hagerstown, MD Fire Department, who recently retired after being Chief of Montgomery County (MD) Fire and Rescue for 30 years.

Watch the video to see Chief Lohr’s stance on building with timber-framing and learn more about the risks and the regulatory details in the USA construction market.


The forum covered how recent codes and legislative changes in the US that permit the use of timber framing in taller and larger buildings, present a risk to public safety.

Chief Lohr has personal experience fighting fires of the scale that the recent coding and legislative changes contribute to, most recently with the 2014 fire that destroyed a 5-story timber framed apartment complex in Montgomery County.

It’s important to be aware that although Chief Lohr is referring specifically to Montgomery County in Texas, the principles he speaks about when building with timber framing are lessons for anyone that’s building with timber, anywhere in the world.

 

The solution

The solution is to construct with cold formed steel construction techniques, thereby removing the danger of using flammable framing.

Steel is non-combustible and can’t burn, because it contains no fire fueling elements. Steel provides no means for a fire to start, it does not contribute to fire growth or fire spread, and it does not contribute to the generation of smoke and toxic combustion products in fires. US Building codes recognize CFS framing as a non-combustible construction methodology.

With fire protection being a primary concern for building codes, builders and construction companies, the use of cold formed steel is increasingly being used to provide strong fire-resistance to buildings and avoid lives being placed at risk.

FRAMECAD are highly aware of the need for fire protection in construction. So much so that we have recently been Sub-Assemblies tested and certified with a 65 minute fire rating in the USA.

 

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Topics: Benefits of Cold Formed Steel Construction