Author: A. Mann
2 January 2018
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How these catastrophes happened is yet to be established. It is said that lessons should be learned, and so they should, since the history of fire engineering is largely one of reaction to disasters. As a start, it’s worth observing, as some of the papers in this special issue do, that the basic skills of ‘fire engineering’ are probably absent among many of us. That situation stems partly from an omission of basic training; perhaps from a feeling that this is a speciality for others, and perhaps because advances have been rapid. This is unsatisfactory and unsafe. Fire protection needs to be ensured overall between the architects, plant engineers and structural engineers who make up any project team: we have collective obligations to make buildings ‘safe’.
Most structures in Europe are constructed using limit state design methods. Most of these structures are protected against some form of specified fire scenario. However, only a small minority of projects link these two major considerations together to form part of a unified structural fire design process. The Eurocodes provide designers with the necessary procedures to undertake an accurate and economical structural fire design, yet few engineers ever consider undertaking such an assessment. This article will focus on the load actions and combinations to be considered that enable the engineer to perform an adequate structural assessment for the accidental limit state in fire. It will also cover important considerations to ensure that any structural fire engineering strategy is appropriately aligned, and the key information is available within the contract chain to facilitate this performance-based approach.
Structural fire engineering is often adopted in large open-plan structuressuch as airport terminals, railway stations, etc., where the low fire risk can be directly conceived and a structural fire analysis may bring significant savings on structural fire protective coatings. In some recent cases, structural fire engineering approaches have also been applied to landmark high-rise buildings in China. This paper introduces four different examples of such methods with varying motivations, approaches and ultimate design schemes, to provide readers with an insight into the commercial application of structural fire engineering in China.
Designers of the built environment are currently focused on creating new materials for construction, or innovating new construction methods with traditional construction materials. This is part of the very complex challenge of balancing environmental issues, such as energy use, with the ongoing market demand for reducing construction costs and time. This has led to a rapid rise in the uptake of timber, such as glued laminated timber (glulam) and cross-laminated timber (CLT), particularly in the design of multistorey residential buildings. This paper focuses on the design of tall timber construction for which many hybrid and composite forms of timber are being developed, resulting in a wide range of structural typologies.