Fire Resistant Construction: Five Different Types

Construction projects can be classified in many different ways. Some are categorized according to who owns them, while others are classified based on the materials used to construct the project. The type of structure being constructed, that is, commercial, residential, industrial, or otherwise, can also be used to categorize a building. Yet another way to categorize buildings is by how resistant to fire they are.

The fire resistance type of a building can be determined by the materials used to construct the building, ventilation within the building, and other factors. Here are five different types of buildings, categorized by how resistant to fire they are.

Fire resistance in buildings: Five different types of constructions

Buildings can be categorized based on how safe they are against fire and how well firefighters would be able to deal with a fire within the building. Here are five different types of constructions, where Type 1 is the most resistant against fire, and Type 5 is the least.

1. Fire resistant constructions: Type 1

Any building that is over 75 ft tall is designed to be fire-resistant. This includes high-rises, commercial buildings, offices, and more. Such constructions have the ability to withstand high temperatures for a long period of time. In the event of a fire, the building can withstand fire for long periods without collapsing in on itself.

The structural materials used to construct the building are chosen to be non-combustible. This includes materials like reinforced concrete, as well as protected steel. Some buildings also gave HVAC systems that help protect the building in the event of a fire. The stairwells are self-pressurizing as well; this prevents fire from spreading through the building.

In the event of a fire, firefighters will be effectively able to deal with the fire. Their main concern should be to secure the area around the stairwell, to help people evacuate out of the building.

2. Non-combustible buildings: Type 2

Type 2 non-combustible buildings also tend to be built of construction materials that are strong against fire. Many such buildings contain fire suppression systems as well. However, the construction materials are not coated with a fire-resistant coating. This means that in the event of a fire, a Type 2 building is more likely to collapse.

However, non-combustible buildings contain metal floors, metal roofs, as well as tilt-slab or masonry walls. Such buildings include newer shopping malls, school buildings, and more. These buildings contain a lot of ventilation, allowing firefighters to more effectively deal with fires.

In the event of a fire, a firefighter will need to ensure that the area is well ventilated in an effort to prevent the temperature in the building from rising.

3. Ordinary construction: Type 3

Type 3 constructions are also known as brick and joist buildings. They are made using reinforced masonry walls or tilt-slab walls. There are elements in the construction that are made using combustible materials, such as wood or others. Type 3 buildings can include both newer, as well as older constructions.

Everything from schools to apartment complexes, houses to shops, can fall under this category. The greatest benefit to this type of construction project is that the spaces are well ventilated. However, this may not apply to houses that have connected attics, or other spaces, through which fire can spread more easily.

When dealing with a fire in this type of construction, firefighters will need to ensure that the spaces are well ventilated and focus on evacuation. If the fire spreads too fast, it can be more difficult to effectively quench a fire in this type of building.

4. Heavy timber construction: Type 4

As the name suggests, heavy timber constructions are more difficult to fight in the event of a fire. They are made using various wooden components and structural materials. These include large pieces of lumber, which are connected to each other using metal plates, as well as bolts.

Such buildings were commonly constructed before 1960, and many of these structures can still be seen standing today. Such structures tend to include old churches, barns, and even factories that were constructed during the 1960s. In order to construct such a building, all the wooden parts that go into making it need to match specific dimensions. All the structural supports in such buildings, which include the beams, among other parts, must be at least six inches thick.

This helps in the construction of buildings that can last for decades and withstand being exposed to the elements. However, such buildings also tend to have non-combustible elements both in the interior, as well as the exterior. Often, the exterior walls are fire-resistant as well. Such buildings are also resistant to collapse. This is due to the overall structural mass of the building.

When dealing with a fire in such a building, firefighters need to use a lot of water to quench the fire. The metal joint connections used to secure the wood in the building can also lead to a rapid spread of the fire if not controlled early. For this reason, firefighters need to be careful when dealing with fires in such buildings.

5. Wood-frame construction: Type 5

The fifth type of construction, and the one least likely to endure a fire, is the wood-frame construction. As the name suggests, such buildings are typically primarily made out of wood. They can be seen in single-family homes, as well as attached garages. Many people opt for such constructions as they are cheaper when compared to building types that are more secure against fire.

Such buildings also tend to have exposed wood and are generally constructed to allow a family to move in. These buildings are not fire-resistant at all and can often pose a problem for firefighters. The exposed wood, if it catches fire, can be difficult to douse. The benefit of owning such a building type is that they are usually resistant to collapse. Some type 5 buildings, however, are lightweight. And if this holds true, then in the event of a fire, such a building is more likely to collapse.


Buildings can be classified in many ways, and how resistant they are to fire is one of them. Buildings can range from being protected against fire to being weak against fire. This depends on the materials used in the construction phase. Most resistant buildings tend to be made of non-combustible materials, while wooden structures are weak against fire. Firefighters will have a harder time dealing with a fire on a type 5 building than on a type 1 building.

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