Allowances for larger and taller mass timber buildings have been approved as part of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 5000, Building Construction and Safety Code, and, where applicable, NFPA 101, Life Safety Code.
Mass timber buildings are capable of providing a level of fire-resistance comparable to steel and concrete. Building code changes are allowing more projects to capitalize on the cost, schedule, and environmental advantages of wood construction. As the popularity of wood grows, construction safety practices are also receiving greater emphasis to mitigate fire hazards during one of the most vulnerable periods of a building’s lifetime.
Oregon has become the first state to approve the use of science-based building code requirements for tall mass timber buildings under its Statewide Alternate Method (SAM). The new document, SAM No. 18-01, Tall Wood Buildings, provides prescriptive technical requirements for tall wood buildings ranging from eight to 18 stories, depending on design and construction methods.
The American Wood Council’s (AWC’s) 2018 Wood Frame Construction Manual (WFCM) for one- and two-family dwellings is a referenced standard for wood design in the International Code Council’s (ICC’s) 2018 International Building Code (IBC) and 2018 International Residential Code (IRC). The publication equips designers and code officials with engineered and prescriptive construction methods resulting in more resilient wood buildings.