Fire Facts for Steel Buildings

First Edition (April 2006)

R.G. Gewain, N.R. Iwankiw, F. Alfawakhiri, G.S. Frater

Steel-framed structures in high-rise office buildings have historically survived fire exposures extremely well. Two examples of severe fires are the 1988 First Interstate Bank fire in Los Angeles and the 1991 One Meridian Plaza fire in Philadelphia; the details of these and other significant building fires are given in Section 7.2. In fact, there has been no recorded structural failure of a protected high-rise steel frame building solely due to fire.

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Description

First Edition (April 2006)

R.G. Gewain, N.R. Iwankiw, F. Alfawakhiri, G.S. Frater

Steel-framed structures in high-rise office buildings have historically survived fire exposures extremely well. Two examples of severe fires are the 1988 First Interstate Bank fire in Los Angeles and the 1991 One Meridian Plaza fire in Philadelphia; the details of these and other significant building fires are given in Section 7.2. In fact, there has been no recorded structural failure of a protected high-rise steel frame building solely due to fire.

FEMA 403 (FEMA, 2002) documents the performance of the World Trade Center (WTC) towers and surrounding structures in the malicious terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, and forms the basis for the continuing work of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). It is important to distinguish “normal” building fires from this extraordinary WTC experience, which involved the combination of severe structural damage, destruction of fire protection, suppression and egress systems, and simultaneous severe fires on several floors. The September 11 tragedy and the breadth of commonly asked questions about building fires, fire safety, and fire resistance have provided the main impetus to this compilation of available information.

It is intended to serve as an objective general reference and introductory primer, in a convenient question and answer format, for the benefit of engineers, architects, building code officials, owners, developers, construction managers, general contractors and the general public and others with interest in the subject. More detailed information, data, analysis or design criteria are available in the cited references. This compilation is organized as follows:

  • Section 1. General Fire Science
  • Section 2. Fire Resistance of Steel Systems
  • Section 3. Canadian Building Code Criteria and
    Use of Prescriptive Fire Resistance Ratings
  • Section 4. The ULC-S101 Standard Fire Test
  • Section 5. Application of ULC-S101 Fire Ratings
  • Section 6. Strength and Reparability of Steel After a Fire
  • Section 7. Past Building Fire Incidents and Casualties
  • Section 8. Special Steel Fire Resistance Issues
    and Future Needs
  • References

This book is based on NBC 2005 and other codes and standards.

Printed version (54 pages)
Freely downloadable PDF
ISBN 0–88811–113–4