Fire and Multi-Story Wood Frame Structures


The apparent growth in the use of wood frame systems in multi-story non-residential buildings brings with it an additional amount of risk - particularly during construction.  As one news reporter observed, "The disadvantage of wood-framed buildings is obvious: wood burns." This has been proven recently in several high-profile and spectacular fires, but there are many more lesser-known  examples of the impact of using combustible materials.

To keep SFIA members informed about the trends and implications of wood framed construction, it has begun tracking examples that collectively are creating a mosaic of risk that should make insurers, building owners, and fire marshals uncomfortable.

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Victoria Commons, Kitchener, Ontario, CAN
Date: July 22, 2014
Project Description:  The Victoria Common development includes 958 units in a mixture of condominiums, town homes and parkland. The complex is expected to be constructed in four phases over a decade. The fire was in the first phase of units and is three and four-story wood frame construction.
Building Status:  Under construction

June 21, 2014 PDF Email

SE Tech Center Drive/Redwood Circle, Vancouver, WA
Date: June 21, 2014
Project Details: The owner of the project is Pacific Realty Associates, a Portland firm, and the contractor is Gaither & Sons Construction.

April 1, 2014 PDF Email

Gables Upper Rock, Rockville, MD
Date of Incident: 
April 1, 2014
Project Description:
The Type III 300 unit apartment complex was a five story project, with a two story cast in place parking structure and amenity deck, with three stories of apartment units built with wood framed walls, joists and roof.  Gypsum & plywood shear walls were used for lateral support. The foundations are cast in place concrete.

March 27, 2014 PDF Email

Beacon Street, Boston, MA
Date of Incident:  March 27, 2014
Project Description: Many of the buildings in the area have brick facades but are actually wood-frame structures that are often abutted against each other so that the walls of adjacent buildings are actually touching.

March 25, 2014 PDF Email

Axis Apartments, Houston, TX
Date of Incident:  March 25, 2014
Project Description:  5 story, 396 unit wood-framed apartment building

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