Reducing Fire Regulatory Barriers and Standards on Timber and Wood Products

As a result of recent devastating bushfires, more restrictions have been placed on timber used in and around buildings. In addition, the use of timber in commercial buildings higher than two storeys is severely limited by regulations from the Building Code of Australia (BCA).

This project investigated five fire-related issues that limit market opportunities for timber and wood products. The categories are: applications of timber in bushfire-prone areas; Fire Hazard Properties for timber in Class 2 to 9 buildings; extension of Class 2 (MRTFC) timber concession to include Class 3 (resorts, hotels); timber facades on Class 2 to 9 buildings; and effects of thin veneers on fire retardant MDF substrate.

The tests advanced the knowledge of how different timber species and building methods respond to fire. In particular a full-scale test showed that timber studs in the bounding walls, timber joists and combustible insulation did not increase the fire severity. As a result, the BCA Class 2 buildings provisions could be extended to include Class 3 buildings, allowing timber to be used in buildings such as hotels, motels and resorts that are low rise and in suitable locations.

In addition, 27 timber species were tested for their Early Fire Hazard Properties.

The project is assisting the timber industry to provide products into previously restricted markets, and removes the need for individual companies to duplicate testing.

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