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Kodumaja structures are fire-resistant

We are frequently asked about the fire resistance properties of timber-frame residential buildings. As wood is a combustible material, it is often (wrongly) thought that timber-frame buildings are easily destroyed by fire. Practice and fire resistance tests, however, confirm the opposite. Unlike metal structures, wooden load-bearing structures preserve their integrity for a considerable amount of time even in the case of direct contact with fire. Conversely, metal structures lose their load-bearing capacity relatively quickly. This is also why metal structures may be protected from fire by wood.

Fire resistance ratings are given to buildings in accordance with the construction regulations of different countries, depending on a building's type and number of storeys. Requirements differ from country to country, and it can be the case that solutions acceptable in one would not be approved in another. For fire section partition walls a minimum fire resistance rating is prescribed by norms. To determine the fire resistance of a building's sections and partition walls, the respective calculations must be made and tests performed on the constructions.

Kodumaja has tested the fire resistance of its structures using both calculations and tests. Experts from Estonia, Norway, and Sweden have been hired for this purpose. Kodumaja has established effective cooperation with the Swedish Research Institute of Wood Technology - SP Wood Technology and with the Norwegian Institute of Construction Research - SINTEF Byggforsk. European fire rating tests have been performed in testing laboratories which comply with international standards and have the respective accreditation. All of the tests so far have confirmed the validity of Kodumaja's calculations of the expected fire resistance ratings. For many types of structures, the results of the tests have actually significantly surpassed the values obtained in the calculations.

Tests show that Kodumaja walls retain their load-bearing capacity for at least 90 minutes

It may seem hard to believe that timber-frame partition walls are able to withstand intense fire (when temperatures can rise to over 1000 degrees Celsius) for more than 90 minutes, preventing fire propagation to adjacent rooms and preserving the load-bearing capacity of the walls, but it's true. And this result is by no means the limit of the fire resistance of Kodumaja's structures.

In a building of any type, the crucial priority for Kodumaja is to ensure the safety of the occupants. As such, in designing higher multi-storey residential buildings, respective fire risk analyses are performed and measures are planned to minimise fire risks to the level required by the applicable regulations on the respective markets. Thus, living spaces and evacuation routes in Kodumaja buildings that are more than three storeys high are usually equipped with automated fire sprinkler systems.

The construction of timber-frame residential buildings has been developing rapidly in recent years and their popularity has risen dramatically. Many new fire- and moisture-resistant materials have been introduced.

Unfortunately, not all regulations, standards and computational models have been able to keep pace with these developments. Fire safety is no exception here. For this reason, an international project was initiated under the leadership of SP Wood Technology to develop new methods of fire safety computation and new fire safety regulations for wood houses and structures. The project's results were published in the book Brandsäkra trähus 3, which has also been released in Estonian under the title Tuleohutud puitmajad.

Owing to Kodumaja's experience in the development of multi-storey timber-frame buildings and in the testing of the fire resistance of structures, the company was involved in the project as a partner.

 

Kodumaja was involved in an international project for the development of new fire safety calculation methods and regulations for timber houses and constructions and in the books summarising the results of the project.

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