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RE: Peculiar Plywood Beams

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Title: RE: Peculiar Plywood Beams

Maybe NDS or APA has some load testing for your type of elements.  My limited experience with plywood joists is that in the event of a fire, they have a better tendency to burn through and the floor falls unlike you might experience in dimensional lumber.  I heard that a lot of areas are requiring that if plywood joists are used, the ceiling must be outfitted w/sprinklers as I heard that the risk of being trapped by falling joist is a lot greater and creates a hazard to fire fighters.  The glue in plywood is very flammable and the elements are thin so they burn easier.

-----Original Message-----
From: Gary Hodgson & Associates [mailto:ghodgson(--nospam--at)]
Sent: Monday, January 06, 2003 3:00 PM
To: seaint(--nospam--at)
Subject: Peculiar Plywood Beams

I am doing a structural review of an existing fire hall.  These older buildings do not seem to
have any drawings, as they were often built by volunteer firefighters and the local community
donating time and materials.

The roof consists of plywood bathtub beams.  The top flange appears to be ±3/4" plywood, the
bottom flange appears to be 1/2" thick plywood x 6" wide and the slanted sides of the "V" are
±1/4" x ±13" deep.  Each trough or beam is spaced at ±16" centres.  I am not sure how to check the
design of this creature.  Has anyone run across a similar situation?

My dimensions are not very good because the only hole for inspection was near a heater.

Gary Hodgson, P.Eng.
Niagara Falls, ON

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