Extinguishing doubt with technology: a brand new case study about the importance of fire safety engineering, explains how Halcrow, a global engineering consultancy, is using TNO DIANA technology to improve fire safety in buildings.(Fire Engineering)

TODAY'S GLOBAL CLIMATE OF concern about terrorist attacks and natural disasters means more attention than ever is paid to the safety of buildings, particularly their response to fire.

It is becoming more and more important to gain a detailed understanding of precisely how a building will react in such extreme conditions, both in the assessment of its structural integrity (during and after the fire) and--crucially--the management of the safety of both occupants and emergency services. The traditional approach to such assessment is based on safety codes that in turn depend on assumptions and oversimplifications. The result is buildings that are often over engineered in some areas and drastically misunderstood in others. Engineers at Halcrow believe a more scientific approach is called for and are using technology from TNO DIANA in their quest for a deeper understanding of fire safety engineering.

Fire safety considerations in the design of new buildings typically centre around the need to comply to a set of industry standards or codes. The result may be a set number of fire doors per floor in an office block or a defined thickness of retardant around a beam, no matter what the likelihood of fire exposure is in any given position. Such codes involve little consideration of modern building design--where the emphasis may be on innovative structures and unusual building materials--and fail to take account of evolving building use scenarios. Rather they are derived from consensus views of what can and should be regarded as safe, and extrapolations of empirical testing on isolated building elements such as doors and beams. …

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