FPInnovations initiated this project to demonstrate the ability of wood exit stairs in mid-rise buildings to perform adequately in a fire when NBCC requirements are followed, with the intent of changing perceptions of the fire safety of wood construction. The objective of this research is to investigate further the fire safety afforded by exit stair shafts of combustible construction, with the ultimate objective of better consistency between the provincial and national building codes with respect to fire requirements for exit stair shafts in mid-rise wood-frame construction.
A series of compartment fire experiments has been undertaken to evaluate the impact of combustible cross laminated timber linings on the compartment fire behaviour. Compartment heat release rates and temperatures are reported for three configuration of exposed timber surfaces. Auto-extinction of the compartment was observed in one case but this was not observed when the experiment was repeated under identical condition. This highlights the strong interaction between the exposed combustible material and the resulting fire dynamics. For large areas of exposed timber linings heat transfer within the compartment dominates and prevents auto-extinction. A framework is presented based on the relative durations of the thermal penetration time of a timber layer and compartment fire duration to account for the observed differences in fire dynamics. This analysis shows that fall-off of the charred timber layers is a key contributor to whether auto-extinction can be achieved.