As a contractor, it’s important that you continue to develop an extensive understanding of buildings, occupancy risk profiling (ORP), and building anatomy. One important aspect of construction is ensuring that your buildings meet all necessary building codes, especially those related to fire safety. In this two-part article, the Ft. Myers construction lawyers at Cotney Construction Law will discuss five types of building construction and their performance under fire conditions.
By the time you finish reading part two, you will have gained a fundamental understanding of the different types of building construction while developing your ability to identify, assess, and predict the best type of building construction for various fire conditions to help you create an effective fire-management model and Incident Action Plan (IAP).
NFPA 220: Standard on Types of Building Construction
Before we discuss the five types of building construction, it’s important to become familiar with NFPA 220: Standard on Types of Building Construction. Published by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), NFPA 220 defines the various types of building construction using combustibility and fire-resistance ratings as the basis for grading a building’s structural elements. However, this grading does not consider any of the following:
- Non-bearing exterior walls
- Non-bearing interior partitions
- Fire barrier walls
- Shaft enclosures
- Openings in walls
The first type of building construction is called “fire resistive.” Fire resistive buildings require all walls, partitions, columns, floors, and roofs to be noncombustible. This type of building is built to withstand the effects of fire for a limited duration. They are also designed to prevent an active fire from spreading throughout the building. Fire resistive buildings are made of poured concrete and steel. Both of these materials are resistant to fire and generally maintain a high degree of structural integrity when on fire. Additionally, all steel members should be outfitted with a fire protective coating.
The second type of building construction is referred to as “noncombustible.” Like the name suggests, noncombustible buildings utilize walls, partitions, columns, floors, and roofs that are noncombustible, or not flammable. However, this type of construction often provides less fire resistance than those deemed “fire resistive.” Noncombustible building construction will not withstand the effects of a fire and will not mitigate the spread of fire. Most noncombustible building construction will feature an exposed metal flooring and roof system as well as masonry walls. Remember, noncombustible building construction is less stable than other types. If it is exposed to fire, there is a possibility it will collapse.
To learn about the other three types of building construction, read part two.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.