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Fire Safety Design at Nardo School, Norway

Photo: Per Jostein Hovde
A school built of massive wood sounds like a challenge for the fire engineers. COWI's fire team took up the challenge and provided the wooden school with a fire safety design.

The Nardo School Building is built of massive wood. The exterior cladding, load-bearing elements, partitions, roof and floors are all made of wood.

Fire Safety Design

Even though the building did not require major fire safety deviations from international standards and codes, the massive wooden construction demands high fire resistance solutions.

It was decided to install fire sprinklers in the building thus allowing the architects more liberty in the choise of buildings materials. For instance, it is possible to use glulam beams and exposed wood interior in a sprinklered building.

As such, the Nardo School is a typical example of fire safety sprinkler design in wooden buildings. A sprinkler system in a wooden building provides higher safety than non-sprinklered buildings of other construction materials.

One minor fire protection challenge was related to the surface of massive wood in the escape routes. To comply with Norwegian reviewer process rules, a fireproof varnish was added.

Robust wood

During the construction there was an unintended test of the robustness of the wood. One night a light fixture tilted up against the wooden wall exposing the wood to high temperatures. 

Over night, the heat from the light fixture left a 20 mm deep charred scar in the wooden wall. However, it did not start a fire. 

The scar was drilled out, filled with new wood and is hardly visible. This is considered an example of the massive fire resistance in the wooden material.

LAST UPDATED: 15.05.2017