Connections’ fire test results encourage mass timber building proponents

A new report tied to the reThink Wood campaign details glulam beam-to-column connections’ fire resistance in Type IV construction, or buildings up to 85-ft. tall. Findings from three assemblies subjected to ASTM E119-16a, Standard Test Methods for Fire Tests of Building Construction and Materials, campaign proponents note, “support mass timber as a safe solution that meets stringent fire safety standards for U.S. building design and construction.”

In their pursuit of friendlier building code provisions, mass timber construction proponents will likely point to glulam beam connections’ performance in the fire tests conducted at Southwest Research Institute, San Antonio. PHOTOS: “Glulam Connection Fire Test” report, June 2017

Fire test members were loaded to simulate typical building conditions. Investigators conclude a) all connectors passed and achieved at least a one-hour fire resistance rating, allowing them to be used in Type IV construction; and, b) architects, designers and engineers can specify the tested connection assemblies and satisfy International Building Code Chapter 7 requirements.

“For the engineering community—and particularly those interested in expanding the possibilities of mass timber construction in the U.S.—these tests represent a significant step to ensure safety,” contends Fire Safety Engineer David Barber of San Francisco-based consulting engineer Arup. “With continued interest and investment in mass timber projects, I am confident more solutions will enter the market, making mass timber more viable for a wide range of projects.”

“The opportunity to expand off-the-shelf solutions for mass timber connection assemblies provides both safety and economic benefits to U.S. building designers and engineers,” adds Softwood Lumber Board Chief Marketing Officer Cees de Jager.

Joining the Softwood Lumber Board and Arup behind the ASTM E119 testing program were cross laminated timber fabricator D.R. Johnson of Riddle, Ore., and timber connection specialist MiTiCon of Surrey, B.C. A “Glulam Connection Fire Test” summary report is available for free download at