A large-scale fire test was conducted on a compartment constructed from cross laminated timber (CLT). The internal faces of the compartment were lined with non-combustible board, with the exception of one wall and the ceiling where the CLT was exposed directly to the fire inside the compartment. Extinction of the fire occurred without intervention. During the fire test, measurements were made of incident radiant heat flux, gas phase temperature, and in-depth temperature in the CLT. In addition, gas flow velocities and gas phase temperatures at the opening were measured, as well as incident heat fluxes at the facade due to flames and the plume leaving the opening. The fuel load was chosen to be sufficient to attain flashover, to achieve steadystate burning conditions of the exposed CLT, but to minimize the probability of uncertain behaviors induced by the specific characteristics of the CLT. Ventilation conditions were chosen to approximate maximum temperatures within a compartment. Wood cribs were used as fuel and, following decay of the cribs, selfextinction of the exposed CLT rapidly occurred. In parallel with the large-scale test, a small scale study focusing on CLT self-extinction was conducted. This study was used: to establish the range of incident heat fluxes for which self-extinction of the CLT can occur; the duration of exposure after which steady-state burning occurred; and the duration of exposure at which debonding of the CLT could occur. The large-scale test is described, and the results from both the small and large-scale tests are compared. It is found that selfextinction occurred in the large-scale compartment within the range of critical heat fluxes obtained from the small scale tests.
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.
Fire safety remains a major challenge for engineered timber buildings. Their combustible nature challenges the design principles of compartmentation and structural integrity beyond burnout, which are inherent to the fire resistance framework. Therefore, self-extinction is critical for the fire-safe design of timber buildings.
This paper is the first of a three-part series that seeks to establish the fundamental principles underpinning a design framework for self-extinction of engineered timber. The paper comprises: a literature review introducing the body of work developed at material and compartment scales; and the design of a large-scale testing methodology which isolates the fundamental phenomena to enable the development and validation of the required design framework.
Research at the material scale has consolidated engineering principles to quantify self-extinction using external heat flux as a surrogate of the critical mass loss rate, and mass transfer or Damköhler numbers. At the compartment scale, further interdependent, complex phenomena influencing self-extinction occurrence have been demonstrated. Time-dependent phenomena include encapsulation failure, fall-off of charred lamellae and the burning of the movable fuel load, while thermal feedback is time-independent. The design of the testing methodology is described in reference to these fundamental phenomena.