Canada Wood Funded Fire Research on Apartments Receives Recognition

By: Paul Newman

Executive Director, Market Access, COFI/Canada Wood

The publication Fire Technology has designated as ‘Editor’s Choice’ an article authored by Alex Zheng on CW funded research delving into the performance differences between apartments constructed of combustible vs. non-combustible materials. To view the study, please click here.

The analytical study undertaken by ex-Surrey fire chief Len Garis (U. of Fraser Valley adjunct professor) and Ian Pike and Alex Zheng of the BC Injury Research and Prevention Unit looked at Fire Severity Outcomes of Apartment Buildings Constructed from Combustible and Non-Combustible Construction Materials.  The team used Canada’s National Fire Information Database (NFID) to make its comparisons.  

The study found that, after adjusting for the presence of smoke alarms and sprinklers, structures constructed from non-combustible construction materials did not perform better in terms of injuries, requiring extinguishment by fire department, or the fire spreading beyond the room of origin. The presence of working smoke alarms and sprinklers played a central role in reducing the severity outcome of a fire.    The research demonstrates that properly designed and fire safety system integrated mid-rise wood apartments perform just as well as their steel and concrete counterparts.

As building codes incorporate provisions for taller mid-rise and mass timber structures both in Canada and elsewhere, this type of research will aid in decision making.