Concern with wood towers

Re. Poll: Would you feel safe living in a wooden high-rise? (Castanet, April 10)

After seeing the recent Castanet poll results regarding feeling safe living in a wooden highrise, it is with disappointment I write this letter.

I believe not only are wooden highrises better for the environment, but have better flexibility during seismic events than rigid concrete. To me, this is something British Columbians need to explore, given the fact even the insurance industry is betting heavily on a future seismic event here in B.C.

If fire safety is what people are worried about, they should rest easily knowing the fire rating of a building like that will be virtually the same as concrete. Think of holding a lighter to a piece of kindling or a match stick to the flat side of a sheet of plywood. There is no way you will light the piece of plywood on fire before you run out of fuel in the lighter. The fire danger of high-rises of all types mostly comes from what people furnish them with, not from what the “bones” (of the building) are constructed of.

There is one elephant in the room I will point out, considering the incredible oversight that is currently taking place in downtown Kelowna, which I feel should put these wooden structures into question.

The entire concept of building high-rises out of wood from start to finish has been spearheaded by UBC and its engineers. I can't help but question the safety data on any of these structures until a third, and maybe even a fourth party offers a professional opinion and verifies the engineering data.

In today's dynamic business community, it's never been more clear that we need to look out for ourselves and our well being, and not let those whom we have traditionally placed trust in, simply tell us everything will be OK.

Steve Brandel

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