ABC Massachusetts President and CEO Greg Beeman was quoted in an August 29 Boston Globe article about potential fire hazards associated with the increased use of wood-framed residential structures.
Beeman noted that "You can never say that everything is going to be without safety issues or concerns, but it would certainly be fair to say that built into the... oversight we have here, there's a strong safety component that is also interwoven. It will be hard to have a Wild West kind of scenario unfold here with the framework we have in place."
Jerry Howard, CEO of the National Association of Homebuilders, noted that potential hazards need to be balanced against affordability concerns. "We could probably all construct a house that would withstand virtually any fire... wind... and flood event that God or man could create. The problem is no one could afford to live in it," he said. "You also have to take into account affordability, and when you balance those things... and look at where we are right now, I think the system has worked very, very well."
A bill pending in the Massachusetts Legislature calls for a tougher building code with respect to lightweight wood products and heightened fire safety with measures like more sprinklers, fire blocks, and a cap on wood-framed construction of four stories.
The current state code limits woo-framed construction at six stories and the Board of Building Regulations and standards, which is in charge of updating the code, is considering incorporating a 2021 change by the International Code Council that would allow mass timber construction of up to 18 stories.
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