Wood-Frame Construction in Florida: Balancing Cost and Safety

Published Date: January 31, 2024

The recent fire at the RISE Doro apartment complex in Jacksonville, Florida, has raised questions about using wood-frame construction in high-rise buildings. Developers favor this construction method because it is cost-effective and efficient, but it also raises fire safety concerns.

Wood-frame construction is permitted statewide in Florida and is a popular choice due to its cost and speed. It allows developers to complete projects faster and cheaper than alternatives like concrete or steel. However, the fire risk associated with wood construction is a critical consideration.

Florida building codes require all construction materials, including wood, to meet the same safety standards. Structural engineers must still sign off on the safety of wood-framed buildings. Despite the efficiency of wood construction, it poses inherent fire dangers.

The Florida Fire Prevention Code mandates fire prevention measures, including sprinkler systems and fire alarms in wood-frame buildings. The RISE Doro apartment building’s fire sprinkler system wasn’t activated during the fire, reportedly due to a pending pressure check during a scheduled fire inspection.

The absence of fire stopping or blocking in an unfinished construction project can allow fires to spread more rapidly. However, when building codes and fire prevention requirements are followed, wood construction remains a safe and commonly used option for developers.

While the cause of the fire at the RISE Doro complex is under investigation, it highlights the need for strict adherence to safety protocols to mitigate fire risks in wood-frame construction projects. Developers often choose wood for its cost benefits but must prioritize fire safety measures to protect residents and their investments.

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Original Article By Tiffany Salameh- News4Jax

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