Fire safety - engineered wood

Just read an interesting article in Holmes magazine by a retired fire chief.
He is basically advising to never put engineered wood in a home - burns very fast and at high temps. I actually never thought of the life safety issues during an inspection. anyone have any data or thoughts?

What I have seen the most is failure of the engineered floor joists. Example. Just last week an eight family apartment building, 2 story. Fire started in the wall at the exterior porch light fixture. The fire went undetected for awhile. Spread between 1st floor ceiling and up the exterior wall to 2nd fl and attic. The 2nd fl engineered floor joist completely burned and all the furniture and floor sagged about 2 feet. The 1st floor ceiling and 1st floor unit destroyed.
So the OSB plywood and couple 2 x2’s for a floor joist does not beat the old time 2 x 8 for burn time . Had this same condition/fire started with 2 x 8 joist’s, possibly the fire would have stayed more contained.
I have pic’s of this fire. Can’t figure how to get them on this post.

Another issue in new construction is building on 24" center’s. All about using less wood. The roof trusses are 2 x 4’s as we all know. Roof’s exposed to internal fire, collapse very fast, are not safe for firefighter’s to be on.
There are more issues with these new engineered trusses, especially when people want to put a solar panel on roof after the structure has been built. Anything added to a roof needs to be engineered as we know for safety, different loads etc.

They don’t build’em like they used to. Maybe we should build with logs again!..NOT

Fire proofing measures should be in the building code for all new engineered wood. They are like match sticks without the proper protection.

More stringent smoke detector regs or sprinklered homes would be cheaper.

Fire dangers with engineered lumber

Free online course on fire safety with engineered lumber

Engineered Lumber in fire conditions

Thanks Marcel:

I signed up and will go over the courses on fire safety.:smiley:

Fantastic Marcel much appreciated … Roy

Good info Marcel. The ID program sounds like a good heads up for firefighter’s. Some municipalities already have a fire wall id placard as well. All “green building”, sure not like the old construction. It’s type V construction, combustible. Early detection smoke and CO detector’s key, and get out fast!

Thanks Marcel.

So, do you all think this was the “catalyst” for the residential fire sprinkler code that was basically squashed? Me’thinks it was. No wonder the NAHB fought it. They would have to admit most new homes are unsafe. Has nothing to do with cost, they just pass it on to the homebuyer anyway.

Mr. Chandler.
What are you doing reading Holmes magazines??
As an InterNACHI home inspector your esop specifically states, oops …one minute I have forgotten the article number, one moment ahhhh yes…
I. 3. We know Mr. Holmes is not impartial and he does not deal in good faith because he can not commit to AT ARMS LENGTH to his inspection school nor his magazine.
***By you reading that magazine *you have left yourself " venerable " to using Hammers, Crow Bars, and other destructive means when doing a home inspection.
YOU MUST seek help at once

I will give you the counter spell.
Close your eyes, and spin counter clockwise 30 times repeatedly, mumbling these words at a** feverish pace** as to hopefully break the spell you are under. quickly now there is not time to loose.
“** Nicks the King and I love InterNACHI**.”

You can not stop until you are finished the 30 repetitions and can not ever, ever ever look at a HOLMES magazine again.
***NOW HURRY man spin and repeat the words


If you want further good reading material on manufactured joists, go see Mr. Cooke.
He has talked to community leaders to help them understand the importance of fire safety and engineered lumber being used in floor joists.
Stay away from reading HI PORN in the bathroom.
Didn’t your mother warn you you might go blind!!!

Most FF Already know this and adjust . We heard about it and wood foundations at-least 18 years ago. Mikey must be behind a tad

Pretty much it Jonas. Around here they say Type V construction-“anything goes”. Basically no fire protection. There is still a push for Commercial Dwelling 3 units and greater to have sprinklers. That’s all code stuff gets pretty crazy as we all know. It’s going to come down as usually to each municipality rules.

For sure match boxes. We had at least 10 homes in our area past 6 months-burn down to ground! SouthEast Wisconsin.

I am not up to date on fire codes. All sure is interesting tho.

I feel that all floors should be protected with one layer of X-type drywall.
Heat proof sealant at all the penetrations into the floor joist. This is the only way to go untill they make them fire proof. Electrical can be installed between but no combustible ventilation or plumbing.:smiley: All support beams must be fire proof.
Code rules done up by “InterNachi Veterans.”:shock:


I sure agree with you on that. Seen a lot of structural fire damage. We know the architect and engineers try and design safe buildings. It’s what and how they are constructed. Cutting corners, leaving holes and spaces for smoke and fire to travel. Just not doing how the prints are approved. Or alterations after approval. Can really get into a lot of different issues in this matter.

Sprinkler systems that is zoned would prevent much family heartache, lose of life from the community providers ( firemen ) and insurance company’s would be a big winner.
Once you construct a barrier to protect the infrastructure you create problems.
If there is a fire all that substructure would come down to inspected the joist, remove all the trapped moisture, and rebuild.
Its a no brainner.
Increased job demand ( high paying jobs- plumbing )
Increased home value. ( as compared to homes without.)
New tax revenue for the government in several forms. ( direct and indirect jobs created )
Insurance company’s would benefit greatly. ( less payment or cost output to renovate or replace homes that have had fires )
Less funding to fire prevention and calls within a generation of a bill mandating new homes be made to install sprinkler systems.
You can go on and on.

Everyone wins.
5.5 to 8 thousand dollars per unit.
That works out to small percentage increase on a 200,000 dollar build.
Average in today’s market place.

Here are a few more helpful links on the subject.

Battling The Hidden Dangers

Fire protection

Fire Engineering


Thanks Marcel.
Amazing to see the web burnt out.
Not hard to imagine though. Ply and flames.
6.03 minutes and the floor gave way.
Sprinkler systems are such an easy fix.
The cost is so minimal its a laugh,
People will spend 5 large on a whirlpool bath for god sake.