BRE Fire Research Conference highlights the latest research shaping the future of fire safety design and management
More than 150 delegates from across the UK and overseas attended the 2016 conference held on the 9th June at BRE’s headquarters.
Delegates included architects, engineers, building control officers, local authorities, housing associations, manufacturers, fire safety consultants, and representatives from the NHS, fire services, academia and insurance industry.
Experts discussed newly published and current BRE research related to both passive and active fire protection, ranging from roof void compartmentation and fire safety in open plan flats, to sprinkler systems in housing and the problem of false fire alarms.
Professor Bailey discussed the legacy of large-scale fire testing at BRE Cardington which yielded critical data on structural fire behaviour that continues to inform safer, more robust and more cost effective design solutions.
Together with real fire data and the development of codified performance-based approaches, the work has delivered tools to better predict a building’s performance during a fire and more accurately assess risks.
Professor Bailey argued that performance-based design employing advanced models can better respond as we push the limits of structural engineering with the use of longer, thinner sections and new materials. A prescriptive approach dictated by building standards and system fire testing is less adaptable to the impacts of new technology and materials.
Referring to fire data on multi-storey structures, he explained that while any visible degree of vertical displacement in the beams will typically necessitate replacement, it does not lead to building collapse – a point that has been acknowledged by insurers. Hence, performance gains do not necessarily follow from an increase in beam fire protection, with evidence showing that between 40-55% of beams in multi-storey steel structures can be left unprotected. A performance-based approach therefore provides the confidence to target fire protection where it is required.
Links to presentations given by nine experts from across BRE’s certification, structural and fire safety teams, gave an insight into other landmark research and opinion-leading projects.
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