2 January 2018
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The Grenfell Tower tragedy in London last June was a stark reminder of how rapidly a fire can spread and the horror which it can cause. In the wake of this disaster, the UK construction industry is actively examining what can be done to minimise the risk of similar tragedies in the future. It is likely that one of the recommendations will be a clearer identification of responsibilities, but whatever the outcome it will clearly be helpful for all members of the design team to have a good understanding of all aspects of fire safety, as well as detailed knowledge about those aspects under their direct control.
Heat-induced explosive spalling in fire poses a credible risk to concrete structures, and has received considerable research attention in recent decades. However, no validated guidance to enable the design of concrete mixes to prevent spalling, nor any established, widely verified, repeatable test methods are yet available to confidently quantify or demonstrate spalling resistance for a particular mix in a given application. As a result, no models yet exist that can predict spalling with sufficient confidence to be used in design. This paper summarises contemporary research on heat-induced concrete spalling, with particular emphasis on design for fire of concrete-lined tunnels. The topic is also relevant for modern concrete buildings. A novel, repeatable and economical testing method to reduce project risk by quantifying the propensity of concrete mixes for spalling under a range of different thermal and mechanical conditions is described. The intent of this paper is to present the limitations of knowledge to enable design for heat-induced spalling, and to highlight research currently under way to overcome some of the issues faced in practice.
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.