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Fire Resistant Design

Since wood is a combustible material, many design professionals do not consider wood as part of an effective fire resistant design. With proper design and care, wood can successfully be used in many structures that require fire resistant design.

For most light weight construction, fire resistance is provided by a covering of gypsum or other insulating materials or by fire sprinklers. This is true for wood, steel or even concrete.

Glulam beams with proper design can accomplish fire resistant design by using larger sections. Using woods natural characteristics to char when exposed to high temperature and combustion. This charring develops a natural insulation to fire protecting the interior wood fiber from the high temperature and flame. Of course this charring only protects the wood for a relatively short time, just as insulation or gypsum protects other products for a short time.

Bottom line, you can protect your structure and have the appearance you desire by designing your QB members for fire resistance construction. This is an area you should consult a licensed design professional although some basic information is available in the Timber Construction Manual, published by the American Institute of Timber Construction.

APA Technical Notes: