Banner for LabNotes
From Lab Notes
Contact Information
Forest Products Laboratory
One Gifford Pinchot Drive
Madison, WI 53726-2398
Phone: (608) 231-9200
Fax: (608) 231-9592


You are here: FPL Home  / Information Products & Services  / Publications

Requested Product

Title: Compartment fire testing of a two-story mass timber building

Source: Gen. Tech. Rep. FPL-GTR-247. Madison, WI: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Forest Products Laboratory. 1-480.

Author(s)Zelinka, Samuel L.; Hasburgh, Laura E.; Bourne, Keith J.; Tucholski, David R.; Ouellette, Jason P.

Publication Year: 2018  View PDF »

Category: General Technical Reports
Associated Research Project(s):   FPL-4716-2A

Abstract: Five full-scale fire experiments were conducted to observe the performance of a two-level apartment-style structure constructed of mass timber. Each level consisted of a one bedroom apartment, an L-shaped corridor, and a stairwell connecting the two levels. One of the primary variables considered in this test series was the amount and location of exposed mass timber. The amount of mass timber surface area protected by gypsum wallboard ranged from 100% to no protection. For each experiment, the fuel load was identical and the fire was initiated in a base cabinet in the kitchen. In the first three experiments, the fire reached flashover conditions, and subsequently underwent a cooling phase as the fuel load from combustible contents was consumed. The first three experiments were carried out for a duration of up to 4 h. In the fourth experiment, automatic fire sprinklers were installed. Sprinklers suppressed the fire automatically. In the fifth experiment, the activation of the automatic fire sprinklers was delayed by approximately 20 minutes beyond the sprinkler activation time in the fourth experiment to simulate responding fire service charging a failed sprinkler water system. A variety of instrumentation was used during the experiments, including thermocouples, bidirectional probes, optical density meters, heat flux transducers, directional flame thermometers, gas analyzers, a fire products collector, and residential smoke alarms. In addition, the experiments were documented with digital still photography, video cameras, and a thermal imaging camera. The experiments were conducted in the large burn room of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Fire Research Laboratory located in Beltsville, Maryland, USA. This report provides details on how each experiment was set up, how the experiments were conducted, and the instrumentation used to collect the data. A brief summary of the test results is also included. Detailed results and full data for each test are included in separate appendices.

Keywords: Fire; tall wood buildings; mass timber; compartment fire; fire dynamics

Publication Review Process: Informally Refereed (Peer-Reviewed)

File size: 35,840 kb(s)

Date posted: 07/27/2018

This publication is also viewable on Treesearch:  view
RITS Product ID: 90735
Current FPL Scientist associated with this product
Zelinka, Samuel L.
Materials Research Engineer

Additional items that might interest you
View the video celebrating FPL's 100 years of public service in 2010, from the producers of the Greatest Good....view

Research Highlights from FPL....view

Termite Eradication: A search for the Holy Grail.... view

Moisture Management in Residential Construction Series videos...view

Wood Floor Systems in Residential Construction Series videos....view
- FPL's Mission and Strategic Plan -

FPL's mission is to identify and conduct innovative wood and fiber utilization research that contributes to conservation and productivity of the forest resource, thereby sustaining forests, the economy, and quality of life. ... ..more »

- FPL Research Emphasis Areas -
Advanced Composites

As an integral part of the FPL mission, we improve the long-term sustainability of our Nation's forests by creating valuable composite products from biobased materials ... ..more »

Advanced Structures

The FPL has been in the forefront of wood-frame housing research since 1910 and has long been recognized as a world leader in such housing-related areas as engineered wood ... ..more »

Forest Biorefinery

We all know the compelling reasons that the United States needs to reduce its dependence on fossil fuels. Historically, the greatest increases in energy demand have been for transportation fuels ... ..more »


A leader in wood products research for over a century, the FPL is positioning itself to become the lead Federal research facility for the application of nanotechnology in forest products ... more »

Woody Biomass Utilization

Forests in the United States contain a substantial amount of small-diameter, overstocked, and underutilized material.FPL research projects are exploring the potential of the small-diameter ... ..more »