In 2015, the National Building Code of Canada (NBCC)  adopted prescriptive provisions to allow the construction of mid-rise (5- and 6-storey) buildings using combustible construction. These types of buildings were already permitted under the British Columbia Building Code, as of 2009 . In2014 the Province of Ontario filed an amendment to also allow mid-rise wood buildings, however, it required that the exit fire separations be built using noncombustible construction having a fire resistance rating (FRR) of not less than 1.5-hr, which was an increase from the 1-hr requirement in the NBCC. The Québec Construction Code has also filed amendments to allow mid-rise wood construction and also limits exit stairwells to use noncombustible construction.
FPInnovations conducted a research project to study the construction of mid-rise wood exit shafts in Ontario and Québec. The scope of the project included an investigation into the concerns that have been raised in regards to the use of wood exits in mid-rise buildings, an analysis of recent Canadian fire statistics in residential multi-family structures, and a fire demonstration of a mass timber wall and supported light-frame floor. This report describes the fire demonstration completed as part of this project; this report acts as a supplement to the full project report.
Currently, mass timber building designs commonly incorporate a concrete floor topping. This can improve building accoustics by increasing the mass of the assembly, reduce floor vibration and create a smooth flat surface to install finish flooring on. The installation of concrete requires formwork, pouring and finishing the concrete and time to cure which adds to project schedules. One way to address this is to use mass timber elements that are prefabricated with concrete toppings preinstalled. Replaceing the concrete floor toppings wiht dry alternatives, such as cement board, may also reduce construction timelines, while still ensuring adequate acoustic and vibration performance. Cement board needs only to be screwed in place and can be walked on immediately after installation; this reduction in construction time may reduce overall project costs and help make wood buildings more cost competitive than other types of construction.