The dangers of lightweight construction when exposed to fire are documented in several studies. An NFPA Journal cover story highlights UL studies on lightweight construction and the threat it poses to firefighters. These threats could be mitigated by installing fire sprinkler systems in all new one- and two-family homes.
From the article: "It’s not lightweight construction. It's what happens when lightweight construction meets fire." The studies in the story detail the relationship between fire and engineered wood construction assemblies—notably, that they burn quicker and fail faster than their dimensional lumber counterparts. What do the findings mean for the fire service, builders, consumers, and NFPA codes?"
Several incidents of firefighter deaths in structures built with lightweight construction are featured. 'Such incidents have fueled a growing concern for the fire service and pose a significant challenge to the code community. In recent decades, an expanding range of construction methods and building products, particularly wooden truss roofing systems and wood I-joists that together are often termed "lightweight construction," have been widely embraced by residential builders for their ability to deliver economy and functionality.'
The trend for the use of lightweight construction is here to stay as a great number of new construction around the country is built entirely of lightweight structures; as much as 65 percent according to the wood truss industry.
Visit the firefighters resource section to obtain a free presentation on the threats of lightweight construction methods.