Structures in Fire:  State-of-the-Art, Research and Training Needs

Workshop Report from the National Workshop on Structures in Fire

Fire represents one of the most severe environmental hazards to which the built-infrastructure is subjected.  Unfortunately, the U.S. has one of the worst fire-loss records in the industrialized world, as demonstrated by the large number of deaths and property destruction.  Within the area of science, structural fire safety is the least developed [Science News 2007].

Fire is a particularly dangerous event, not only because it is not fully understood, but also because it may be a primary or a secondary event caused by many other hazards such as earthquake, impact, and blast.  Thus, fire can create severe life-threatening conditions, and hence providing appropriate fire resistance to structural members is a major safety requirement in building design.

Structural fire safety is one of the key considerations in the design and maintenance of built infrastructure. There are serious limitations in the current approaches to structural fire safety and also severe knowledge gaps in the literature.  Two main reasons for these limitations are the lack of significant research activities in this field and lack of educational and training programs in the universities.  To review the current state-of-the-art and to identify the research and training needs for improved fire safety in the U.S., a two-day National Workshop was organized at Michigan State University.  The workshop brought together many academics from U.S. universities, in addition to international experts and design professionals in the structural fire safety field.  The deliberations from presentations, panel discussions, and break-out sessions formed the basis for this report and the information was used to develop research and training needs for improving the state-of-the-art in the structural fire safety field.