Some myths surround timber buildings and whether or not they are safe from fire. Timber burns but initial scorching creates a layer that protects the wood from further combustion. That is why in some circumstances after a forest fire a tree will come back to life. The charring of the outer layer of the tree protects the interior. Exposed to sustained heat, all building products start to fail and collapse. If steel is exposed to high heat even for short times, it will lead to instant and catastrophic failure. Concrete, when exposed to heat for sustained periods becomes brittle and starts to lose its strength as the heat affects the reinforcement. There is no product that is completely safe from the effects of fire and heat and all buildings rely on giving occupants the maximum time to evacuate a burning structure to reach safety.

All buildings need protection from fire to allow evacuation to happen. Timber buildings are no different. CLT panels are used as a structural element and are clad on both sides with sheets of plasterboard or an external weather proof and fire resistant cladding. This helps protect the timber panel from fire. In some circumstances plasterboard panels are produced to perform under very high fire performance criteria; when these products are also cladding the CLT panels, very high fire performance protection is achieved.

There is nothing to prevent tall timber buildings being as safe for occupants as any other building made from concrete, steel , or masonry.

The 10 storey CLT building Docklands Victoria by Lend Lease Development

Fire systems for tall timber buildings

CLT used in combination with proprietary plasterboard linings provide superior fire performance.

Proprietary sheet products provide FRL values that, when fixed to the CLT panel, provide adequate fire protection.

Each building may be required to meet standards particular to its location and required performance. Our CLT/sheet product details provide the designer with the necessary FRL requirements to incorporate CLT into your design.

If you have a specific consultant engaged to certify the fire performance of the building we will work with that consultant to achieve their design requirements.