While timber is indeed a combustible material, in construction it has significant insulating properties and burns in a slow, predictable and measurable way. These factors see timber perform strongly against fire and give designers the ability to confidently create strong, durable, fire resistant timber constructions.
When exposed to the heat of a fire, timber goes through a process of thermal breakdown into combustible gases. During this process, a layer of charcoal forms on the burning surface of the timber and it is this charred layer that is the key contributing factor in timber's fire resistance. The layer acts as an insulator protecting the inner core of the timber, making it resist heat penetration and thus burn more slowly; while the temperature of the inner, uncharred core remains low, enabling it to continue to carry its load. Initially the rate of charring is fast but as the char depth increases it provides a stronger protective layer to the timber, slowing the overall combustion rate.
The self protecting nature of the charring layer increases the likelihood of a timber structure surviving fire as the uncharred inner core remains unaffected, maintaining its strength and with it the structure's stability.
To enable efficient, effective design for fire safety, the following resources are available on this website:
Design for fire and Bushfire
This page contains information about the three most common ways of designing for fire and links to other resources.
Fire Test Reports
This page contains links to fire test reports relating to timber flooring, lining and fire-rated timber building elements (systems) to support the use of timber products. Typically, these reports relate to requirements of the National Construction Code – Building Code of Australia.
Fire Regulation Compliance through Performance Solutions
This page contains a summary of the process that can be used to develop Performance Solutions. It also includes links to relevant Technical Design Guides and case studies.
Fire prevention and minimisation
This pages discusses how the Building Code of Australia (BCA) for Class stipulates the use of materials for use in the construction of Building classes 1a, 2, 3 and 9c buildings and links to relevant Technical Design Guides.
Fire Hazard Properties
This page contains information about Clause C1.10 of the Building Code of Australia (BCA) and its compliance requirements.
This section contains many Q&A's relating to meeting fire-related standards, codes and compliance. You can search for relevant answers, or submit your own question.