NFPA approves new mass timber codes

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NFPA approves new mass timber codes

By HBSDealer Staff - 09/09/2020
A mass timber project from Structurlam.

Allowances for larger and taller mass timber buildings have been approved as part of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 5000 Building Construction and Safety Code and, where applicable, NFPA 101 Life Safety Code, the American Wood Council (AWC) said.

“The addition of tall mass timber provisions to NFPA 5000 and NFPA 101 ensures compatibility with the International Building Code, thereby furthering the market opportunity for tall mass timber buildings,” said AWC Vice President of Codes & Regulations Kenneth Bland, P.E. “NFPA’s recognition of tall mass timber furthers the availability of a low-embodied carbon alternative compared to traditional building materials.”

NFPA undertook a three-year process to review mass timber where several NFPA Technical Committees, with responsibility for building construction provisions, developed new tall mass timber provisions. Issued in June, the new provisions are intended to eliminate conflicts that can occur when compliance with both the IBC and NFPA 101 is required.

The updated NFPA codes are expected to be available later this year.

Unlike the requirements in the International Building Code (IBC), the NFPA 5000 provisions for tall mass timber apply a factor to increase the number of stories and area above existing heavy timber limits. 

Additionally, levels of fire resistance and non-combustible protection are prescribed with increasing building height. Similar to the IBC approach, there are provisions for the protection of shafts, exterior walls, concealed spaces, and connections with non-combustible materials.

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