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Robert H. White

Former Employee
Durability and Wood Protection Research
One Gifford Pinchot Drive
Madison, WI 53726-2398
United States
Current Research
  • Methods for evaluating fire-damaged components of historic covered bridges.
  • Nondestructive methods for evaluating heat damaged wood.
  • Fire behavior and protective measures for creosote-treated wood.
  • Fire performance of cross-laminated timber assemblies.
  • Cone calorimeter tests of forest products.
Research Interest
  • Fire resistance of structural wood members and assemblies including the charring rate of wood.
  • Options for improving fire resistance including the use of fire resistive coatings.
  • Safe use of wood products and safety of wood structures in the wildland-urban interface.
  • Fire testing of vegetation for use in wildland-urban interface.
  • Fire performance of composite wood products including wood-plastic composites.
  • Post-fire assessment of wood structures.
  • Fire testing of fire-retardant-treated wood products including accelerated weathering.
  • Fire safety during construction of a wood structure.
  • Fire performance of individual wood species of lumber, both domestic and imported.
  • Standard developments within ASTM International Committee E-5 on Fire Standards and Committee D-7 on Wood.
Why This Research Is Important

In addition to the intrinsic importance of safety in all aspects of our lives, the investigation and documentation of the fire performance and fire safety of forest products and structures made with forest products is important for the very simple reason that concerns about fire safety have a profound influence on the market and regulatory acceptance of building materials.  Fire safety concerns are major drivers for many provisions within the existing building codes and will be in current and future developments of future editions of the building codes and other regulatory documents.  Research on fire performance and fire safety is critical to the FPL's mission "to identify and conduct innovative wood and fiber utilization research that contributes to conservation and productivity of the forest resource, thereby sustaining forests, the economy, and quality of life."  Market acceptance of innovative advanced wood composites and advanced structures depend on their fire safety being addressed.  The protection and survival of structures in the wildland-urban interface have a profound effect on both the lives of the residents of such areas and the Forest Service management of the national forests and grasslands.

  • University of Wisconsin-Madison, Ph.D., major-Forestry, minor-Mechanical engineering, "Charring rates of different wood species", 1988
  • Oregon State Univ., M.S., major-Forest Products, minor-Structural engineering, "Finite element analysis of end fixity in stud wall panels", 1975
  • Penn State University, B.S., Wood Science, 1973
Professional Organizations
  • Member,  International Association of Fire Safety Science,  1993 - Current
  • Member,  ASTM International,  1984 - Current
  • Member,  National Fire Protection Association,  1982 - Current
  • Member,  U.S. Technical Advisory Group to International Organization for Standardization - Technical Committee 92 - Fire Safety,  1988 - 2012
  • Member,  Forest Products Society (FPS),  1970 - 2010
  • Deputy Coordinator,  International Union of Forest Research Organizations (IUFRO),  2000 - 2009
  • Member,  Society of Wood Science and Technology (SWST),  1970 - 2006
  • Member,  American Wood Protection Association,  1996 - 2005
Awards & Recognition
  • ASTM International Award of Merit and honorary title of Fellow, 2009
    in recognition of the outstanding contributions for serving in leadership positions of both Committee E05 on Fire Standards and Committee D-7 on wood while making numerous significant technical contributions to the development of related ASTM standards.
  • L.J. Markwardt Award from ASTM Committee D-7 on Wood, 2007
    in recognition of his extensive contributions to standards activities to ASTM Committee D07, particularly those related to the developement of standards for fire performance of wood in building construction.
Featured Publications
Other Publications
Research Highlights

Public Access to Actual Data Files for Cone Calorimeter Tests of Wood Products

Year: 2010
The cone calorimeter test is a fire test used internationally for research and development of new fire retardants and to provide input data to models for predicting the reaction of building materials to fire and the spread of a fire within a building. The primary output is the heat release rate due ...

Wood-Plastic Composites Are More Desirable With Fire Retardant Treatments

Year: 2012
Wood-plastic composites treated with fire retardants addresses fire concerns in the wildland-urban interface

Evaluation of Various Fire Retardants for Use in Wood Flour/Polyethylene Composites

Year: 2010
Wood-plastic composites (WPCs) represent a class of materials increasingly used in residential construction and furniture-making. The fire performance of WPCs is not well understood, however, and there is little information regarding the effectiveness of various fire retardants in the public domain....

Centennial Edition, Wood Handbook—Wood as an Engineering Material

Year: 2010
The Wood Handbook—Wood as an Engineering Material serves as a primary reference document for a wide variety of users-from the general public through architects and design engineers who use wood in highly engineered structures.