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A key international manufacturer of household appliances required an advanced structural and fire analysis of one of their major European facilities for assembling, stocking and distributing washing machines.

Built in the late 1960s, this 10,000-square-meter facility is characterized by a steel structure, with a reticular steel roof and steel columns built in a regular and symmetrical configuration. We have worked with the client for many years, providing them with fire and life safety consultancy services, engineering design and execution of fire permitting for the entire production site.

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The Problem

With the introduction of the new Italian Fire Code, the building was subject to a fire safety risk analysis as it went through some renovation works and expansion. This analysis highlighted some flaws within the original fire safety strategy. Because the production line runs end-to-end through the structure unobstructed, the building is considered a single fire compartment and required by legislation to achieve a minimum fire resistance. However, implementing the required passive fire protection measures for this massive steel structure would have caused extended downtime, high costs and modification to the production line. Additionally, the building is adjacent to one of the busiest highways in North Italy. Structural fire resistance was required to avoid any possible collapse towards the highway resulting in loss of lives or damages to other strategic properties.

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The Solution

Jensen Hughes experts re-designed the entire fire strategy for the building by introducing new fire safety measures, such as detection and sprinkler protection systems. By doing so, we managed to redefine the specific fire risk of the building, allowing us and the client to implement targeted plans for passive fire protection solutions within the existing structure. In addition, we performed fire and structural fire modelling to investigate how the existing structure would behave in the event of a fire.

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The Results

Through advanced structural and fire analysis, we were able to find the weak elements of the structure and tailor the passive fire protection to these elements. Using structural and fire modelling, we also analysed the direction in which the structure would bend in case of collapse. Such advanced modelling allowed us to strengthen strategic structural elements to prevent any possible collapse towards the adjacent highway. Our services were well-received by the client, as we managed to achieve approval from the fire authorities while limiting the costs required to implement the fire safety measures necessary to meet code compliance. At the same time, we engineered the plan of action with the client so that the production line could be kept the same without compromising the entire production of the site.

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