Future Leaders Committee Event

CTBUH Canada FLC: Fire Dynamics in Timber Structures

Wednesday, 18 March 2020 | Toronto
About the Event
Timber buildings are becoming increasingly sought after for their architectural and aesthetic appeal. Two of the most desired features of timber buildings are the large open spaces and the ability to leave the timber as an exposed visual element. Both these aspects bring with them major fire safety challenges.

Fire dynamics in large, open, atrium-like spaces are poorly understood and pose many challenges for fire safety practitioners, including the management of smoke movement, fire development, and occupant egress in these spaces. From a structural standpoint, the performance of timber in fire must be well understood to ensure it can withstand the anticipated fire exposure. Losses of structural capacity to char need to be accounted for, as do contributions from the timber to fire and smoke production. Commonly, timber members are encapsulated using fire rated gypsum board in order to achieve the required fire performance or to be approved by authorities, although there is conflicting evidence as to whether encapsulation is successful at improving the fire performance of the assembly.

To address these fire safety concerns, two phases of experiments were conducted. The first phase involved a large-scale building experiment with the purpose of understanding timber column encapsulation performance, and to gain insight into smoke movement and fire development in a large, atrium-like space. A timber column, encapsulated in multi-layered fire rated gypsum board, was spot ignited within a large, open farm structure and allowed to burn until the building collapsed. The second phase involved the testing of four timber columns with the same cladding schedule under lab-controlled conditions with an equivalent fire exposure.

This presentation explores the performance of this fire rated gypsum board in both phases, and provides an improved understanding of the fire dynamics in large timber structures with open space.

Location University of Toronto, Galbraith Building
35 St. George Street Toronto, Ontario
Room GB303
Toronto, ON M5S 2E4

About the Speaker

John Gales, PhD, P.Eng., is an Assistant Professor at York University in the Department of Civil Engineering in Toronto, Canada where he leads their new Fire Safety Engineering Research Group. Dr. Gales also performs duties as a visiting (adjunct) professor at Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Boston, USA, and University of Waterloo, Canada. He received his engineering doctorate from the University of Edinburgh in the United Kingdom in 2013. He is a registered Professional Engineer in Ontario, Canada. Dr. Gales’ primary research interests include resilient structural fire design, and human behavior in emergency situations. Dr. Gales has over 160 technical contributions. He is one of four Task Group Chairs in the Fire Protection Committee of the American Society of Civil Engineers, the leading structural fire committee in the United States, Chair of the committee on Fire Behaviour and Safety of Structures of the Canadian Society of Civil Engineers; Associate Editor of Fire and Materials (John Wiley); Associate editor Canadian Journal of Civil Engineering (NRC research); Editorial board of Fire Technology, recent Chair of the 2018 Workshop on Fire Resistance of Structures for ASTM International, and voting member of the Canadian Commission Building and Fire Codes Standing Committee on Fire Protection.