The insulating properties of timber can provide built-in fire resistance. Large timber members burn slowly and form char on the surface.
Even though wood does burn, the contribution from the timber building materials to the fire load is usually small compared with the contribution of the building contents which constitute the main source of fuel.
However, large areas of wood-based surface linings in buildings can contribute to faster fire spread and this needs to be taken into account as other building design features may be required to mitigate the effects.
Design of buildings for fire safety is a complex topic requiring integration of a large number of sometimes conflicting requirements.
Read the following PDFs and the pages linked below for detailed information.
Source: Timber Design Guide, 2007
Buchanan AH (ed). 2001. Fire Engineering Design Guide. University of Canterbury: Centre for Advanced Engineering.
Society of Fire Protection Engineers. 2002. SFPE Handbook of Fire Protection Engineering. Bethesda.
Buchanan AH. 2001. Structural Design for Fire Safety. A.H. Buchanan. UK: John Wiley & Sons.
Dyrsdale D. An Introduction to Fire Dynamics. 2nd Edition. John Wiley and Sons.
Timber Structures Standard. NZS 3603: 1993. Standards New Zealand.
Du Bois & Sauvignon Ltd and Total Build Solutions