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.
"This report presents the findings from a simulation parametric study to investigate the use of water mist systems for a residential compartment fire involving exposed mass timber structures. The fire and suppression models were first validated against experimental data obtained from the NRC fire tests that were conducted under the same project. Seventeen simulations were conducted using Fire Dynamic Simulator (FDS) software. The following parameters were investigated: effect of fuel arrangement and location on fire severity in exposed wood compartment, effect of different finishing on fire severity in compartment, fire and suppression in open space vs compartment, effectiveness of water mist systems in fire suppression in compartments with different finishing. The results show the effectiveness of the water mist system in suppressing the fire in exposed wood compartments where a high heat release is expected due to the high fuel load"--Executive summary, page iv.
As timber buildings are constructed taller, architects and building owners are asking for more timber to be exposed. Addressing how exposed timber and in particular cross laminated timber, influences a fully developed fire through to self-extinguishment is a current and complex fire safety issue. There is limited research available on how exposed timber alters heat release rate, temperatures and fire duration. This paper provides a summary of the relevant research to understand similarities in findings and how the results of fire tests can be applied. Research shows that large areas of exposed timber has a significant impact on heat release rate, but limited areas of exposed timber can be accommodated within a fire safe design. The location of exposed timber and avoiding two or more adjacent exposed surfaces, is an important finding. It is evident from the limited testing that a single exposed timber wall of approximately 20% of the total wall area has little impact on a compartment fire. The development of a calculation methodology to account for the change in compartment fire dynamics when two or more surfaces are exposed is the next step in the advancement of exposed timber fire safety engineering.