Both the BCBC and the NBCC are objective-based codes whose provisions are deemed to be acceptable solutions. Alternative solutions are permitted; however, they must be demonstrated to provide a level of performance equivalent to that of the acceptable solution they are replacing.
There is interest in Canada in constructing tall wood buildings. To aid in the design and approval of such buildings, FPInnovations oversaw the development of a Technical Guide for the Design and Construction of Tall Wood Buildings in Canada. Chapter 5 of the Guide addresses Fire Safety and Protection in tall buildings. Rather than developing site-specific regulations for tall wood buildings, a more robust approach, recommended in Chapter 5 of the Tall Wood Guide, would be to demonstrate quantitatively that the fire safety provisions proposed for the building yield fire risks that are not greater than the fire risks associated with the acceptable solutions of the code.
Unfortunately BCBC and NBCC do not provide a quantitative method for assessing the level of fire safety (or risk-to-life) inherent in the design of a building. However, CUrisk, the most comprehensive model available for assessing the fire risk in buildings, can assess how fire protection measures work together to ensure life safety by computing the risk-to-life due to fire in the building.
In this project, CUrisk was employed to assess and compare the risk-to-life due to fire in mid-rise and high-rise residential and office buildings of wood construction and of non-combustible construction and to demonstrate how fire protection measures can be tuned to ensure a mid-rise or high-rise building of wood construction is as safe as a similar building of non-combustible construction.