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Over the past 30 years, the cost of plain steel sections in the UK has decreased dramatically relative to the unit cost of labour (Table 1). The labour-related items, or added value (e.g. drawing, fabrication, erection), constitute approximately 50% of the cost of even the simplest steel framed structure. It is evident, therefore, that the lowest cost steel frame will be the one in which the overall labour content is minimised. This is not to be confused with least weight structural solutions, which very rarely produce the most cost-effective designs.
Traditionally, structural fire engineering design has been considered an area outside the scope of engineering design. In the United Kingdom, the Building Regulations specify minimum periods offire resistance for loadbearing elements depending on the function and size of the building. Fire statistics, particularly those related to fatalities, show that the Regulations huve been eflective in terms offire safety against structural collapse but are perhaps too conservative.
N.P. Braimi and E.W. Marchant