Sustainable Fire Engineering
2013-03-06: Further to an earlier Post, dated 30 November 2012 … on Sustainable Accessibility for All …
Accessibility IS a Fundamental Human Right !
‘ For many Weak and Vulnerable People, today’s Complex Human Environment is inaccessible and unsafe … a hostile ‘reality’ which prevents independent functioning and participation in a local community; it is a blatant denial of their human rights.’
Relevant Human Environment (social – built – virtual - institutional) Factors … factors which are external, or extrinsic, to the context of a person’s life and living situation … include policies and standards, negative attitudes and stigma, lack of services, problems with service delivery, inadequate funding, lack of accessibility in the built environment and to electronic, information and communication technologies, lack of consultation and involvement, and an absence of reliable data and evidence.
Accessibility for All …
Take a really close look at the photograph below … and see a staircase which, in spite of all the legislation in the EU Member States, contravenes almost every accessibility-related design guideline. It is far from being an unusual scene in our European Built Environment …
Now, imagine the consequences of one, tiny slip …
Which is why our concern must be with Accessibility for All … which includes consciously thinking about children under the age of 5 years, women in the later stages of pregnancy, and frail older people (not all older people !) … and how they use and interact with their surroundings.
In addition, however … our attention must also turn to the large numbers of people, in all of our societies, with health conditions which result in serious impairments, activity limitations and participation restrictions. As a prime example, consider the Big-4 Non-Communicable Diseases (NCD’s): Cardiovascular Diseases (e.g. heart attacks and stroke), Cancers, Diabetes, and Chronic Lung Diseases.
These 4 NCD’s – targeted in a World Health Organization (WHO) Global NCD Campaign - share health risk factors (tobacco use, unhealthy diet, lack of physical activity, harmful alcohol use) … cause more than 36 million deaths annually (almost 80 % of deaths, from such diseases, occur in low and middle-income countries) … and result in a high proportion of disability (66.5 % of all years lived with disability in low and middle income countries).
NCD’s can limit one or more of a person’s major life and living activities … such as walking, eating, communicating, and caring-for-oneself. Examples of common NCD-related impairments include paralysis due to stroke, and amputation as a result of diabetic neuropathy.
When Easily Assimilated Signage IS Essential in Buildings …
Good Architectural Design IS ‘intuitive and obvious’ for building users … design characteristics which are critical in the case of Fire Engineering Design. However, what is intuitive and obvious in Ireland may not be so intuitive and obvious in Turkey … and what is intuitive and obvious in Europe will certainly not be intuitive and obvious in Africa, India, or China.
Architectural & Fire Engineering Design must, therefore, be adapted to Local conditions … culture, social need, etc., etc.
When a building is NOT ‘intuitive and obvious’ for the broad range of potential building users … easily assimilated signage IS essential …
International Standard ISO 21542: ‘Building Construction – Accessibility & Usability of the Built Environment’ was published in December 2011, as a full standard. In its Introduction, ISO 21542 is linked to the U.N. Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) … almost like an umbilical cord.
The scope of ISO 21542 covers public buildings. The Accessibility Agenda in the U.N. Convention is very broad … so much standardization work remains to be completed at international level.
Concerning Accessibility Symbols and Signs … reference should be made to ISO 21542: Clause 41 – Graphical Symbols … and on Pages 106, 107, 108, and 109 … the following will be found:
- Figure 66 – Accessible Facility or Entrance ;
- Figure 67 – Sloped or Ramped Access ;
- Figure 68 – Accessible Toilets (male & female) ;
- Figure 69 – Accessible Toilets (female) ;
- Figure 70 – Accessible Toilets (male) ;
- Figure 71 – Accessible Lift / Elevator ;
- Figure 72 – Accessible Emergency Exit Route.
I use the word ‘accessibility’, and not ‘access’ … because Accessibility has been defined in ISO 21542 as including … ‘access to buildings, circulation within buildings and their use, egress from buildings in the normal course of events, and evacuation in the event of an emergency’.
A note at the beginning of the standard also clarifies that Accessibility is an independent activity, i.e. assistance should not be necessary … and that there should be an assurance of individual health, safety and welfare during the course of those (accessibility-related) activities.
During the very long gestation of ISO 21542, an overwhelming consensus emerged in favour of using the term Accessibility for All … thereby sidestepping the thorny issue of different design philosophies which are described as being accessibility-related but, in practice, are limited and/or no longer fit-for-purpose.
The Accessibility Symbol used throughout ISO 21542 is shown above. I know that a small group of people from different countries worked very hard on this particular part of the standard. My only contribution was in relation to the inclusion of Figure 72, concerning Fire Evacuation.
This ‘accessibility’ symbol is an attractive, modern and, of course, abstract representation of a concept … a person with an activity limitation using a wheelchair. The symbol succeeds very well in communicating that concept.
However … as an Accessibility for All Symbol … encompassing people with other than functional impairments, e.g. hearing and visual impairments … and children under the age of 5 years, women in the later stages of pregnancy, frail older people … and people with the four main types of non-communicable disease discussed above … is this symbol, also, limited and no longer fit-for-purpose ??
Shown next, above, is the proposal for a new Area of Rescue Assistance Sign … which is contained in ISO 7010:2011 / FDAM 115 (2013). While it is nice to finally see this Safety Sign appear in the mainstream of safety signage … the title being proposed for the sign and the explanatory texts which accompany it are very problematic …
- The technical term being proposed – Evacuation Temporary Refuge – is too long and too difficult to understand ;
- The explanatory texts which accompany this Sign are very confusing and misleading.
This problem has arisen because the people who drafted ISO 7010:2011 / FDAM 115 (2013) hadn’t a bull’s notion that ISO 21542 even existed !
In ISO 21542, we use the term Area of Rescue Assistance … which is easy for everybody to understand, including building users, building managers and firefighters, etc., etc.
We also explained, in ISO 21542, that a Place of Safety is a remote distance from the building … not anywhere inside the building !
Mainstreaming Disability …
U.N. CRPD – Preamble
(g) Emphasizing the importance of mainstreaming disability issues as an integral part of relevant strategies of sustainable development,
As ‘disability’ moves closer towards … and is integrated and fully included in the ‘mainstream’ of sustainable community life and living … it is absolutely imperative that individuals and organizations who make up the Disability Sector become much more cohesive (far less fractious within) … that they begin to fully understand the practices and procedures of the mainstream … and actively and robustly engage with that mainstream.
It is ridiculous, for example, that a large amount of the Sector’s energy is still being diverted into meaningless meditations and endless tracts on whether it is ‘universal design’, or ‘design-for-all’, or ‘inclusive design’, or ‘facilitation design’, etc … when an entirely new design paradigm is being demanded by a world (our small planet when seen from the moon !), which is experiencing enormous levels of human poverty, natural resource shortages, human rights violations, and severe weather events. The overriding priority must be ‘real’ implementation … Effective Accessibility for All !
And … Effective Accessibility for All is but one component of …
‘Social Wellbeing for All in a Sustainable Built Environment’
Refer also to …
2013-03-06: IF they are working properly and are correctly located … Smoke Detectors and/or Heat Detectors will detect a fire in your house … and give you and your family a warning (usually, audible only !?!) to evacuate immediately. Detectors will NOT suppress a fire, and they will NOT protect what you value most … your home.
At your leisure, you might like to check out this important Domestic / Residential / Home Fire Protection Measure … which you will be hearing a lot more about, here, in Europe !
[ http://www.homefiresprinkler.org/index.php/virtual-sprinklered-house-builder-presentation ]
Short video clips cover the following …
- Why Residential Fire Sprinkler Systems are Needed
- What are Residential Fire Sprinkler Systems
- How Residential Fire Sprinkler Systems Work
- Installing a Residential Fire Sprinkler System
- Planning for Residential Sprinklers
- Types of Residential Fire Sprinkler System
- National Fire Protection Association - NFPA 13D: Standard for the Installation of Sprinkler Systems in One and Two-Family Dwellings and Manufactured Homes
- Water Used in Residential Fire Sprinkler Systems
- Types of Residential Fire Sprinkler Head
- Maintenance of Residential Fire Sprinkler Systems
2012-12-14 & 2012-12-30: Further to this distressing incident … which exposed a profound lack of awareness, care and competence within the general fire safety industrial sector …
… this is how we would like to help you … whether you are an individual, or an organization … whether you are located in Ireland, Italy or Turkey … some other part of Europe, the Arab Gulf Region, India, Japan, China … or wherever !
And … we can, if requested or necessary, work in collaboration with local partners in those different geographical regions.
- FireOx International is the Fire Engineering Division of Sustainable Design International Ltd. (SDI) -
Fundamentally, the 9-11 World Trade Center Incident in New York (2001) was an Extreme ‘Real’ Fire Event. It presented the International Fire Engineering Community with a catastrophic failure in conventional practices and procedures related to:
- Fire Engineering, Structural Engineering, and Architectural Design ;
- Human Building Management Systems ;
- Emergency Response by Firefighters, Rescue Teams, and Medical Personnel ;
- National and Local Organizations Having Authority or Jurisdiction (AHJ’s) ;
… and with the serious problem of entirely inadequate Fire Safety Objectives in the building legislation, model codes and design standards of the most economically advanced countries in the world.
Those people who understand the building design process, and have experience as construction practitioners, have long realised that the lessons from 9-11 must be applied across the full spectrum of building types … not just to tall buildings. Right up to the present day, unfortunately, many people in the International Fire Engineering Community are either unwilling, or unable, to do this.
Furthermore … Fire Engineering, Architectural Design and Structural Engineering must, of urgent necessity, be seamlessly conjoined … with the aim of removing misunderstandings and the wide gaps in client service delivery between the different disciplines.
In 2002, a series of Long-Term 9-11 Survivor Health Studies commenced in the USA … and in 2005 and 2008, the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) issued a series of Post 9-11 Critical Recommendations concerning the design, construction, management and operation of buildings.
At FireOx International … we have fully integrated this essential design guidance into our frontline fire engineering and architectural practice … we have developed unique and practical solutions for worldwide application, some of which appear in International Standard ISO 21542: ‘Building Construction – Accessibility & Usability of the Built Environment’, published in December 2011.
FireOx International’s Commitment to You
As a necessary response to the New 21st Century Paradigm of Real Extreme Event in a Built Environment which is becoming more and more complex … is subject to climate change and severe weather events … and is vulnerable to malign and malevolent disruption -
WE are committed to … the implementation of a Sustainable Human Environment which is Fire Safe and Secure for All, meaning that an ‘appropriate project-specific fire safety level’ is our fire engineering objective, with ‘human health protection’ targeted as a priority … through the use of innovative, reliability-based and person-centred sustainable design practices and procedures.
What is an ‘Appropriate Fire Safety Level’ in Your Building or Facility ?
It is rarely, if ever, explained to clients/client organizations that the Minimal Fire Safety Objectives in building legislation are focused solely on protecting the ‘interests’ of society, not those of the individual … are, quite often, inadequate and/or flawed … and are, always, revised only after the latest tragedy !
To properly protect Your Interests as a client/client organization … we strongly advise that the Appropriate Level of Fire Safety in Your Building or Facility should exceed the minimal level of safety required by building legislation. We would also caution that, in many jurisdictions (e.g. India), compliance with national building legislation is voluntary.
Which raises the issues of whether or not you will actually get what you pay for, and whether or not the Fire Protection Measures in Your Building or Facility are reliable (in other words, will they perform as intended at the time of a ‘real’ fire, which may occur at any time in a building’s long life cycle) !?! Competent Technical Control of Design and Construction, independent of the design and construction organization(s), is essential.
You should carefully consider the following spectrum of issues which may be directly relevant to Your Project. Following a process of consultation with you, we then develop Project-Specific Fire Engineering Design Objectives … bearing in mind that you must also comply with safety at work, anti-discrimination, and environmental legislation, etc … maintain business continuity, etc … be energy efficient, etc … and be socially responsible, etc …
- Protection of the Health of All Building Users … including People with Activity Limitations (2001 WHO ICF), Visitors to the building or facility who may be unfamiliar with its layout, and Contractors or Product/Service Suppliers temporarily engaged in work or business transactions on site ;
- Protection of Property from Loss or Damage … including the Building or Facility, its Contents, and Adjoining or Adjacent Properties ;
- Safety of Firefighters, Rescue Teams and Other Emergency Response Personnel ;
- Ease and Reasonable Cost of ‘Effective’ Reconstruction, Refurbishment or Repair Works after a Fire ;
- Sustainability of the Human Environment (social - built - virtual - economic) … including Fitness for Intended Use and Life Cycle Costing of fire engineering related products and systems, etc … fixed, installed or otherwise incorporated in the building or facility ;
- Protection of the Natural Environment from Harm, i.e. Adverse or Damaging Impacts.
FireOx International – Our Fire Engineering Services
WE will advise you on Fire Safety Policy, Fire Safety Strategy Development, Fire Safety Implementation … and, whether you are within or from outside the European Union, on CE Marking of Fire Protection Related Construction Products ;
WE understand the process of Design, particularly the new language of Sustainable Design … and we will produce Creative Fire Engineering Solutions for Your Project ;
WE are thoroughly familiar with the intricacies of Building Sites … and we will verify and/or validate Design Compliance during construction, and at project completion … and, if requested or necessary, as a completely Independent Technical Controller ;
WE communicate easily and effectively with other Professional Design Disciplines, including architects and structural engineers … and we will act as fully participating members of Your Project Design & Construction Team … and, if requested or necessary, as the Design Professional in Responsible Charge ** ;
WE practice in accordance with a comprehensive Professional Code of Ethics.
Sustainable Fire Engineering Solutions ?
- Are adapted to Local Geography, Climate/Climate Change, Social Need, Culture, Economy … and Severe Events (e.g. earthquakes, flooding) ;
- Are ‘Reliability-Based’, i.e. that design process based on practical experience, competence and an examination of real extreme events, e.g. 2001 WTC 9-11 & 2008 Mumbai Attacks, and 2011 Fukushima Nuclear Incident … rather than theory alone ;
- Are ‘Person-Centred’, i.e. that design process which places ‘real’ people at the centre of creative endeavours and gives due consideration to their responsible needs, and their health, safety, welfare and security in the Human Environment.
FireOx International’s Contact Information
International Phone: +353 1 8386078 / National Phone: (01) 8386078
Important Note: This Post should be read in conjunction with an earlier Post …
It is there, not here, that we define Sustainable Human & Social Development … and describe how our Practice is responding to this open, intricate, dynamic, and still evolving concept. The resulting transformation in how frontline services are provided to our Clients/Client Organizations ensures a much more comfortable ‘fit’ to their needs … and a greater level of protection, safety and security for society !
[ ** 2005 NIST(USA) Final Report on 9-11 World Trade Center 1 & 2 Tower Collapses
- Footnote 49 -
... the Design Professional in Responsible Charge - usually the lead architect - ensures that the (Design) Team Members use consistent design data and assumptions, co-ordinates overlapping specifications, and serves as the liaison with enforcement and review officials, and with the client or client organization. ]
2012-11-30: Related specifically to my 2 Previous Posts on 27 November 2012 & 28 November 2012 … this is how we would like to help you … whether you are an individual, or an organization … whether you are located in Ireland, Italy or Turkey … some other part of Europe, the Arab Gulf Region, India, Japan, China … or wherever !
And … we can, if requested or necessary, work in collaboration with local partners in those different geographical regions.
For many Weak and Vulnerable People, today’s Complex Human Environment is inaccessible and unsafe … a hostile ‘reality’ which prevents independent functioning and participation in a local community; it is a blatant denial of their human rights.
Restrictions on Social Participation, e.g. physical barriers, sloppy user-unfriendly management procedures, discrimination, stigma, etc … also limit the Use Potential of buildings, transportation systems, public spaces and other facilities … shortening product life cycles.
These factors impose a large, negative cost burden on society generally … and on you, as an individual … or as an organization, whether private or public. It is bad business !
SDI’s Commitment to You
As a necessary response to the New Paradigm of ‘Accessibility’ mandated by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), and elaborated in greater detail by International Standard ISO 21542 : 2011 -
WE are committed to … the implementation of a Sustainable Human Environment which is Effectively Accessible for All … through the use of innovative, person-centred and reliability-based sustainable design practices and procedures.
SDI’s Accessibility Services
- WE will advise you on Accessibility Policy, Accessibility Strategy Development, Accessibility Implementation … and, whether you are within or from outside the European Union, on CE Marking of Accessibility Related Construction Products ;
- WE understand the process of Design, particularly the new language of Sustainable Design … and we will produce Creative Accessibility Solutions for Your Project ;
- WE are thoroughly familiar with the intricacies of Building Sites … and we will verify and/or validate Design Compliance during construction, and at project completion … and, if requested or necessary, as a completely Independent Technical Controller ;
- WE communicate easily and effectively with other Professional Design Disciplines, including fire engineers … and we will act as fully participating members of Your Project Design & Construction Team ;
- WE practice in accordance with a comprehensive Professional Code of Ethics.
Sustainable Accessibility Solutions ?
- Are adapted to Local Geography, Climate/Climate Change, Social Need, Culture, Economy … and Severe Events (e.g. earthquakes and flooding) ;
- Are ‘Person-Centred’, i.e. that design process which places ‘real’ people at the centre of creative endeavours and gives due consideration to their responsible needs, and their health, safety, welfare and security in the Human Environment ;
- Are ‘Reliability-Based’, i.e. that design process based on practical experience, competence and an examination of real extreme events, e.g. 2001 WTC 9-11 & 2008 Mumbai Attacks, and 2011 Fukushima Nuclear Incident … rather than theory alone.
SDI’s Contact Information
International Phone: +353 1 8386078 / National Phone: (01) 8386078
Important Note: This Post should be read in conjunction with an earlier Post …
It is there, not here, that we define Sustainable Human & Social Development … and describe how our Practice is responding to this open, intricate, dynamic, and still evolving concept. The resulting transformation in how frontline services are provided to our Clients/Client Organizations ensures a much more comfortable ‘fit’ to their needs … and a greater level of protection, safety and security for society !
2012-11-28: On Monday last, 26 November 2012 … Fire broke out at a Sheltered Workshop for People with Activity Limitations, located in the small municipality of Titisee-Neustadt, south-western Germany … not too far from the borders of France and Switzerland. It was approximately 14.00 hrs in the afternoon … in broad daylight.
German news reports put the death toll at 14 People, including 1 Carer … with 10 People injured.
News reports also state that it took 2 Hours for Firefighters to bring this incident under control. At the time that Photograph 1, below, was taken … smoke had spread throughout a major part of the building.
Viewers should look closely at the top of the external staircase … then, ask yourselves how any person with an activity limitation can be safely rescued, or assisted to evacuate, by means of a ladder (obscured, at the end of the building on the left) … and, finally, notice the positioning of fire hoses on the ground and on the staircase … some of the many issues which have been discussed extensively here before …
2005 NIST(USA) Final Report on 9-11 World Trade Center 1 & 2 Tower Collapses
- Recommendation #17b -
To the degree possible, people with activity limitations should be provided with a means for self-evacuation in the event of a building emergency. Current strategies (and law) generally require these people to shelter-in-place and await assistance. New procedures, which provide redundancy in the event that the fire warden system or co-worker assistance (e.g. the buddy system) fail, should consider full building evacuation, and may include use of fire-protected and structurally hardened elevators, motorized evacuation technology, and dedicated communication technologies.
At the heart of the impressive show of fire fighting equipment and technology … and the usual reassuring statements by local officials and other people in authority after the event … there is an equally impressive lie …
Current Building Codes and Regulations, Fire Safety Standards, Building Design Practices, and Building Management Procedures … do not seriously consider the safety of People with Activity Limitations … not properly - not adequately - not even INadequately. Tokenism is the best offer available in just a few European countries.
According to Spiegel OnLine International …
The rescue was difficult because some people panicked, said Local Fire Chief Alexander Widmaier. ”We are dealing here with people who naturally do not respond rationally”, he said.
IF this is an accurate news report, and bearing in mind that it is also a translation … I SAY …
Let us be generous and kind … Local Fire Chief Alexander Widmaier has NO awareness or understanding of People with Activity Limitations and the daily challenges they face in moving around and using a built environment which is inaccessible and unsafe.
According to AFP OnLine …
Gotthard Benitz, of the Titisee-Neustadt fire service, told AFP earlier that the fire began on the ground floor of the building which also had a basement and an upper floor.
“The victims were all on the same floor where the fire was”, he said adding this was the only area to have sustained fire damage and the stairwell had remained smoke-free meaning those on the other two floors had been able to use it.
He also said firefighters were prepared for dealing with an emergency at the workshop as practice fire alarms were regularly carried out there, with the last one having been last year.
The head of Caritas in Germany, Peter Neher, told ZDF public television that emergency practice drills were done regularly.
IF this is an accurate news report, and bearing in mind that it is also a translation … I SAY …
Gotthard Benitz should also look at the top of the external staircase in Photograph 1 above. IF there are no circulation hazards, e.g. ice, or obstacles, e.g. fire hoses … able-bodied people can easily go up or down a staircase … people who use wheelchairs or other mobility-aid devices cannot.
In their respective positions of responsibility … Gotthard Benitz and Peter Neher should both understand that all building occupants must be facilitated in acquiring the skill of evacuation to a ‘place of safety’, by way of a safe and accessible route. An emergency practice drill, although carried out regularly once a year … is ENTIRELY inadequate … and will achieve Very Little.
Skill: The ability of a person – resulting from training and regular practice – to carry out complex, well-organized patterns of behaviour efficiently and adaptively, in order to achieve some end or goal.
Standard fire evacuation training and practice drill procedures must be adapted to the individual-specific abilities of People with Activity Limitations.
BUT … the new International Standard ISO 21542 is a very small step in the right direction. See yesterday’s post.
This situation will only improve to a significant degree, however, when People with Activity Limitations, and their Representative Organizations, begin to act decisively, in unison, and with serious intent …
Self-Protection from Fire in Buildings – Personal Check List for People with Activity Limitations
1. Upgrade ‘My’ understanding of Accessibility …
Ease of independent approach, entry, egress, evacuation and/or use of a building and its services and facilities, by all of the building’s potential users – with an assurance of individual Health, Safety and Welfare during the course of those activities ;
2. Be assertive (not aggressive) with regard to ‘My’ own self-protection in emergency situations ;
3. Concerning ‘My’ safety … demand that Building Management actively engages in Meaningful Consultation – and receives your Informed Consent ;
4. Become familiar with the Fire Defence Plan for the building, and know ‘My’ part well ;
5. Practice - practice - practice … become skilled in evacuation to a Place of Safety ;
6. Become involved, and participate directly in the Building’s Safety Procedures.
Self-Protection from Fire in Buildings - Must-Do List for Representative Organizations & Groups
1. Upgrade ‘Our’ understanding of Accessibility in a Social Context, its Current Vocabulary, and its Complexity … groups of individuals wish to socialize together … this is now, afterall, a recognised human and social right !
Ease of independent approach, entry, egress, evacuation and/or use of a building and its services and facilities, by all of the building’s potential users – with an assurance of individual Health, Safety and Welfare, and group Wellbeing, during the course of those activities ;
2. Be assertive (and aggressive) with regard to the availability of proper Data and Statistics – we must clearly identify ‘Our’ problem with the many restrictions placed on our participation in local communities ;
3. Produce a working statement of an Individual’s Rights – on 1 Page (!) ;
4. Issue clear guidelines on Reliable Advocacy ;
5. Become involved, and participate directly in the improvement of Building Codes and Regulations, Fire Safety Standards, Building Design Practices, and Building Management Procedures ;
6. Demand resources to Monitor ‘Effective’ Implementation … and Target Relevant and ‘Practical’ Research.
2012-10-25: The Practice Philosophy of Sustainable Design International Ltd. is an issue which has occupied my mind greatly during this past summer … as I asked myself some difficult questions …
What has really been happening to our planet since 1992 … and earlier, since 1972 ?
Where is SDI now ?
Are we on the same track … the right track ?
Where are we going in the short to medium-term future ?
Architecture … is practice as a separate design disciple now obsolete ?
Fire Engineering … can it be dragged, screaming, from the proverbial ‘caves’ … and transformed to respond creatively to the safety and security requirements of a complex built environment ?
Sustainability … what impact does this intricate, open, dynamic and still evolving concept have … should it have … on the provision of conventional Architectural and Fire Engineering Services ?
‘Green’ … is this marketing ploy helpful … or an annoying obstacle … to effective implementation of Sustainable Development ?
Click the Link Above to read and/or download a PDF File (3.73 Mb)
2011 – United Nations Environment Programme
Click the Link Above to read and/or download a PDF File (4.83 Mb)
Extract from ‘Foreword’ …
This publication serves as a timely update on what has occurred since the Earth Summit of 1992 and is part of the wider Global Environment Outlook-5 (GEO-5) preparations that will lead to the release of the landmark GEO-5 report in May 2012. It underlines how in just twenty years, the world has changed more than most of us could ever have imagined – geopolitically, economically, socially and environmentally. Very few individuals outside academic and research communities envisaged the rapid pace of change or foresaw developments such as the phenomenal growth in information and communication technologies, ever-accelerating globalization, private sector investments across the world, and the rapid economic rise of a number of ‘developing’ countries. Many rapid changes have also taken place in our environment, from the accumulating evidence of climate change and its very visible impacts on our planet, to biodiversity loss and species extinctions, further degradation of land surfaces and the deteriorating quality of oceans. Certainly, there have been some improvements in the environmental realm, such as the significant reduction in ozone-depleting chemicals and the emergence of renewable energy sources, new investments into which totalled more than $200 thousand million in 2010. But in too many areas, the environmental dials continue to head into the red.
Sustainable Design International Ltd. – Ireland, Italy & Turkey
Click the Link Above to read and/or download a PDF File (670 Kb)
SDI is a professional, trans-disciplinary and collaborative design, architectural, fire engineering, research, and consultancy practice … specialists in the theory and practical implementation of a Sustainable Human Environment (social - built - virtual - economic).
WE are committed to … the protection of society, the best interests of our clients, and ‘user’ welfare … not just cost-effective compliance with the Minimal Health & Safety Objectives in Legislation & Codes !
Sustainability … continues to fundamentally transform our Architectural, Fire Engineering & Consultancy Practice.
2012 – United Nations Environment Programme
Click the Link Above to read and/or download a PDF File (4.72 Mb)
If we measured the world’s response to environmental challenges solely by the number of treaties and agreements that have been adopted, then the situation looks impressive. Over 500 international environmental agreements have been concluded since 1972, the year of the Stockholm Conference and the establishment of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
These include landmark conventions on issues such as trade in endangered species, hazardous wastes, climate change, biological diversity and desertification. Collectively, these reflect an extraordinary effort to install the policies, aims and desires of countries worldwide to achieve sustainable development.
Yet despite the impressive number of legal texts and many good intentions, real progress in solving the environmental challenges themselves has been much less comprehensive, a point clearly underlined in the Global Environment Outlook-5 (GEO-5), for which this report ‘Measuring Progress: Environmental Goals and Gaps’ and a previous publication ‘Keeping Track of Our Changing Environment: From Rio to Rio+20′ are companion products leading up to Rio+20.
This report outlines findings from a UNEP study that, with support from the Government of Switzerland, has catalogued and analyzed existing ‘Global Environmental Goals’ contained in the international agreements and conventions. It asks the fundamental question as to why the aims and goals of these policy instruments have often fallen far short of their original ambition and intentions. One possible reason is that many of the goals are simply not specific enough; the few goals that are specific and measurable appear to have a much better record of success.
These include goals to phase out lead in gasoline, ozone-depleting substances (ODS) and certain persistent organic pollutants (POP’s), specific Millennium Development Goal targets calling to halve the number of people without access to safe drinking water and improved sanitation, and targets to increase the number and extent of protected areas. Indeed, even when measurable targets have been set but not actually met, they have usually led to positive change and often to significant change.
The vast majority of goals, however, are found to be ‘aspirational’ in nature. They lack specific targets, which generate obvious difficulties in measuring progress towards them. In addition, many aspirational goals are not supported by adequate data that can be used to measure progress, global freshwater quality being one stark example.
It is clear that if agreements and conventions are to achieve their intended purpose, the international community needs to consider specific and measurable goals when designing such treaties, while organizing the required data gathering and putting in place proper tracking systems from the outset.
A set of Sustainable Development Goals, as proposed by the UN Secretary-General’s High-Level Panel on Sustainability, could be an excellent opportunity and starting point to improve this situation while representing another positive outcome from Rio+20, two decades after the Rio Earth Summit of 1992 and four decades after the Stockholm Conference.
Achim Steiner, United Nations Under-Secretary-General, and Executive Director, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), Nairobi.
2012-05-18: Déjà-vu …
” In the early hours of the morning of Saturday, 14th February 1981, a disastrous fire swept through a building called the Stardust in the North Dublin suburb of Artane during the course of a St. Valentine’s Night ‘disco’ dance. Forty eight people were killed and one hundred and twenty eight seriously injured. The overwhelming majority of the victims were young people. “
‘Introduction’, Report of the Tribunal of Inquiry on the Fire at the Stardust, Artane, Dublin, on the 14th February 1981. Report dated 30 June 1982.
As a young architect in private practice … I witnessed, at first hand, the Dublin Fire ‘Establishment’ disappear from public view, without trace, after the Stardust Fire Tragedy. It was almost impossible, for at least a year afterwards, to have a meeting with any Fire Prevention Officer in the Dublin Fire Authority. This was a very valuable lesson.
Later, following the publication of the Stardust Tribunal Report … were its Recommendations implemented … with urgency … and conscientiously ? No way. For example, it was more than ten years after the Stardust Fire before an inadequate system of legal National Building Regulations was introduced in Ireland. And to this day, the system of AHJ monitoring of construction quality, throughout the country, is weak and ineffective … lacking both competent personnel and resources !
The proof of the pudding is in the eating … and one of the results, also in Dublin, has been last year’s debacle at the Priory Hall Apartment Complex … where all of the residents had to leave their expensive apartments for fire safety (and many other) reasons. The tip of a very large iceberg. See my post, dated 18 October 2011 .
And this is where the problems usually begin …
” There has been a tendency among students of architecture and engineering to regard fire safety as simply a question of knowing what is required in terms of compliance with the regulations. The recommendation of the Tribunal of Enquiry into the Summerland Disaster that those responsible for the design of buildings should treat fire safety as an integral part of the design concept itself, has not yet been reflected in the approach to the subject at university level. There is still clearly a need for a new approach to the structuring of such courses which will in time bring to an end the attitude of mind, too prevalent at the moment, that compliance with fire safety requirements is something that can be dealt with outside the context of the overall design of the building. “
‘Chapter 9 – Conclusions & Recommendations’, Report of the Tribunal of Inquiry on the Fire at the Stardust, Artane, Dublin, on the 14th February 1981. Report dated 30 June 1982.
This Recommendation has still not been implemented … and note the reference to the earlier fire at the Summerland Leisure Centre in 1973, on the Isle of Man, when 50 people were killed and 80 seriously injured.
Today … the same attitude of mind, described so well above, stubbornly persists in all sectors, and in all disciplines, of the International Construction Industry … even within ISO Technical Committee 92: ‘Fire Safety’ !
Which brings me, neatly, to the recent question posed by Mr. Glenn Horton on the Society of Fire Protection Engineers (SFPE-USA) Page of LinkedIn ( http://www.linkedin.com/groups?gid=96627 ). As usual, the shortest questions can prove to be the most difficult to answer …
” Can you expand on, or point to where anyone has discussed, the ‘very flawed design approach’ please ? “
ESSENTIAL PRELIMINARIES …
1. Foundation Documents
I am assuming that ‘people-who-need-to know’, at international level, are familiar with the Recommendations contained in these 2 Reports …
- NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology). September 2005. Federal Building and Fire Safety Investigation of the World Trade Center Disaster: Final Report on the Collapse of the World Trade Center Towers. NIST NCSTAR 1 Gaithersburg, MD, USA ;
- NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology). August 2008. Federal Building and Fire Safety Investigation of the World Trade Center Disaster: Final Report on the Collapse of World Trade Center Building 7. NIST NCSTAR 1A Gaithersburg, MD, USA ;
… and the contents of the CIB W14 Research WG IV Reflection Document … which, together with its 2 Appendices, can be downloaded from this webpage … http://www.cjwalsh.ie/progressive-collapse-fire/ … under the section headed: ‘April 2012′.
However … I am utterly dismayed by the number of ‘people-who-need-to know’ … who do not know … and have never even bothered to dip into the 2 NIST Reports … or the many long-term Post 9-11 Health Studies on Survivors which have already revealed much priceless ‘real’ information about the short and medium term adverse impacts on human health caused by fire !
CIB W14 Research Working Group IV would again strongly caution that Fire-Induced Progressive Damage and Disproportionate Damage are fundamental concepts to be applied in the structural design of all building types.
2. Technical Terminology
While attending the ISO TC92 Meetings in Thessaloniki, during the last week of April 2012, I noticed not just one reference to ‘fire doors’ in a Draft ISO Fire Standard … but many. It surprised me, since I thought this issue had been successfully resolved, at ISO level, many years ago. There is no such thing as a ‘fire door’ … and the careless referencing of such an object, which has no meaning, in building codes and standards has caused countless problems on real construction sites during the last 20-30 years.
Please follow this line of thought …
Fire Resistance: The inherent capability of a building assembly, or an element of construction, to resist the passage of heat, smoke and flame for a specified time during a fire.
Doorset: A building component consisting of a fixed part (the door frame), one or more movable parts (the door leaves), and their hardware, the function of which is to allow, or to prevent, access and egress.
[Commentary: A doorset may also include a door saddle / sill / threshold.]
Fire Resisting Doorset / Shutter Assembly: A doorset / shutter assembly, properly installed or mounted on site, the function of which is to resist the passage of heat, smoke and flame for a specified time during a fire.
… and so we arrive at the correct term … Fire Resisting Doorset … which, as an added bonus, also alerts building designers, construction organizations, and even AHJ inspectors, to the fact that there is more involved here than merely a door leaf.
Now then, I wonder … how, in any sane and rational world, can the term Fire Resistance be used in relation to structural performance during a fire, and the cooling-phase afterwards ? Yet, this is exactly what I read in the building codes of many different jurisdictions. Do people understand what is actually going on ? Or, is the language of Conventional Fire Engineering so illogical and opaque that it is nearly impossible to understand ?
And … if this problem exists within the International Fire Science & Engineering Community … how is it possible to communicate effectively with other design disciplines at any stage during real construction projects. The artificial environments found in academia are not my immediate concern.
3. Fire Research & Development outside CIB W14 & ISO TC92
In 2012 … there is something very wrong when you have to struggle to persuade a group of people who are developing an ISO Standard on Design Fire Scenarios … that they must consider Environmental Impact as one of the major consequences of a fire to be minimized … along with ‘property losses’ and ‘occupant impact’. This is no longer an option.
Environmental Impact: Any effect caused by a given activity on the environment, including human health, safety and welfare, flora, fauna, soil, air, water, and especially representative samples of natural ecosystems, climate, landscape and historical monuments or other physical structures, or the interactions among these factors; it also includes effects on accessibility, cultural heritage or socio-economic conditions resulting from alterations to those factors.
So … how timely, and relevant to practitioners, are ISO Fire Standards ? Perhaps … obsolete at publication … and not very ??
And … there is lot more to the Built Environment than buildings …
Built Environment: Anywhere there is, or has been, a man-made or wrought (worked) intervention in the natural environment, e.g. cities, towns, villages, rural settlements, service utilities, transport systems, roads, bridges, tunnels, and cultivated lands, lakes, rivers, coasts, and seas, etc … including the virtual environment.
We should be very conscious that valuable fire-related research takes place outside, and unrelated to, the established fire engineering groupings of CIB W14 & ISO TC92. But I am curious as to why this research is not properly acknowledged by, or encouraged and fostered within, the ‘system’ ?
Example A: Responding to Recommendation 18 in the 2005 NIST WTC Report … a Multi-Disciplinary Design Team published an article in the magazine Bâtiment et Sécurité (October 2005) on The PolyCentric Tower. I very much enjoy giving practitioners a small flavour of this work, whenever I make presentations at conferences and workshops …
Example B: In spite of a less than helpful submission (to put it mildly) from ISO TC92 Sub-Committee 4 … ISO 21542: ‘Building Construction – Accessibility & Usability of the Built Environment’ was finally published in December 2011 … but it was developed by a Sub-Committee of ISO TC59: ‘Buildings & Civil Engineering Works’ …
With the involvement and support of ISO Technical Committee 178: ‘Lifts, Elevators & Moving Walks’ during its long gestation … ISO 21542 is now able to indicate that all lifts/elevators in a building should be capable of being used for evacuation in the event of a fire. This is already a design feature in a small number of completed Tall Building Projects. Once more, this is no longer an option.
In addition … if a Fire Evacuation Staircase has a minimum unobstructed width of 1.5 m (from edge of handrail on one side of the staircase to edge of handrail on the opposite side) … this will be sufficient to facilitate the following tasks …
- Assisted Evacuation by others, or Rescue by Firefighters, for those building users who cannot independently evacuate the building, e.g. people with activity limitations … shown above, on the right, is assistance being given by three people (one at each side, with one behind) to a person occupying a manual wheelchair ;
- Contraflow Circulation … emergency access by firefighters entering a building and moving towards a fire, while people are still evacuating from the building to a ‘place of safety’ remote from the building … shown above, bottom left, is how not to design an evacuation staircase (!) ;
- Stretcher Lifting … lifting a mobility-impaired person, who may be conscious or unconscious, on a stretcher ;
- Firefighter Removal & Contraflow … shown above, top left, is removal of a firefighter from a building by colleagues in the event of injury, impairment, or a fire event induced health condition … while other firefighters may still be moving towards the fire.
Note that in a Fire Evacuation Staircase … all Handrails are continuous … each Stair Riser is a consistent 150 mm high … each Stair Tread/Going is a consistent 300 mm deep … and there are No Projecting Stair Nosings.
Most importantly … in order to assign sufficient building user space in the design of an Area of Rescue Assistance … ISO 21542 also provides the following Key Performance Indicator … just one aspect of a ‘maximum credible user scenario’ …
10% of people using a building (including visitors) have an impairment, which may be visual or hearing, mental, cognitive or psychological, or may be related to physical function, with some impairments not being identifiable.
Is There Any Connection Between Examples A & B ? There is, and it is a connection which is critical for public safety. The following Performance Indicator illustrates the point …
Innovative Structural Design – Perimeter Core Location – Design for Fire Evacuation – Evacuation for All
” A Building must not only remain Structurally Stable during a fire event, it must remain Serviceable for a period of time which facilitates:
- Rescue by Firefighters of people with activity limitations waiting in areas of rescue assistance ;
- Movement of the firefighters and those people with activity limitations, via safe and accessible routes, to Places of Safety remote from the building ;
- With an assurance of Health, Safety & Welfare during the course of this process of Assisted Evacuation. “
[Refer also to the Basic Requirements for Construction Works in Annex I of the European Union's Construction Product Regulation 305/2011 - included as Appendix II of the CIB W14 WG IV Reflection Document. Are the Basic Requirements being interpreted properly ... or even adequately ??]
ANSWERS TO THE QUESTION …
The Greek Paper is included as Appendix I of CIB W14 WG IV Reflection Document … in order to show that Fire-Induced Progressive Damage is also an issue in buildings with a reinforced concrete frame structure. It is more straightforward, here, to concentrate on buildings with a steel frame structure.
a) Use of ‘Fire Resistance’(?) Tables for Structural Elements
We should all be familiar with these sorts of Tables. The information they contain is generated from this type of standard test configuration in a fire test laboratory …
… and this sort of criterion for ‘loadbearing horizontal elements’ in a fire test standard …
A single isolated loaded steel beam, simply supported, is being tested. As deflection is the only type of deformation being observed and measured … the critical temperature of the steel, i.e. the point when material strength begins to fail rapidly and the rate of beam deflection increases dramatically … is the sole focus for all stakeholders.
Using these Tables, it is very difficult to escape the conclusion that we are merely interior decorators … applying flimsy thermal insulation products to some steel structural elements (not all !) … according to an old, too narrowly focused, almost static (‘cold form’) recipe, which has little to do with how today’s real buildings react to real fires !
This ‘non-design’ approach is entirely inadequate.
With regard to the use of these Tables in Ireland’s Building Regulations (Technical Guidance Document B), I recently submitted the comments below to the relevant Irish AHJ. These same comments could just as easily apply to the use of similar Tables in the Building Regulations for England & Wales (Approved Document B) …
” You should be aware that Table A1 and Table A2 are only appropriate for use by designers in the case of single, isolated steel structural elements.
In steel structural frame systems, no consideration is given in the Tables to adequate fire protection of connections … or limiting the thermal expansion (and other types of deformation) in fire of steel structural elements … in order to reduce the adverse effects of one element’s behaviour on the rest of the frame and/or adjoining non-loadbearing fire resisting elements of construction.
In the case of steel structural frame systems, therefore, the minimum fire protection to be afforded to ALL steel structural elements, including connections, should be 2 Hours. Connections should also be designed and constructed to be sufficiently robust during the course of a fire incident. This one small revision will contribute greatly towards preventing Fire-Induced Progressive Damage in buildings … a related, but different, structural concept to Disproportionate Damage …
The failure of a building’s structural system (i) remote from the scene of an isolated overloading action; and (ii) to an extent which is not in reasonable proportion to that action.
Fire-Induced Progressive Damage
The sequential growth and intensification of structural deformation and displacement, beyond fire engineering design parameters, and the eventual failure of elements of construction in a building – during a fire and the ‘cooling phase’ afterwards – which, if unchecked, will result in disproportionate damage, and may lead to total building collapse. “
Coming from this background and heritage … it is very difficult to communicate with mainstream, ambient structural engineers who are speaking the language of structural reliability, limit state design and serviceability limit states.
b) NIST Report: ‘Best Practice Guidelines for Structural Fire Resistance Design of Concrete and Steel Buildings’ (NISTIR 7563 – February 2009)
At the end of Page 18 in NISTIR 7563 …
” 2.7.2 Multi-Storey Frame Buildings
In recent years, the fire performance of large-frame structures has been shown in some instances to be better than the fire resistance of the individual structural elements (Moore and Lennon 1997). These observations have been supported by extensive computer analyses, including Franssen, Schleich, and Cajot (1995) who showed that, when axial restraint from thermal expansion of the members is included in the analysis of a frame building, the behaviour is different from that of the column and beam analyzed separately.
A large series of full-scale fire tests was carried out between 1994 and 1996 in the Cardington Laboratory of the Building Research Establishment in England. A full-size eight-storey steel building was constructed with composite reinforced concrete slabs on exposed metal decking, supported on steel beams with no applied fire protection other than a suspended ceiling in some tests. The steel columns were fire-protected. A number of fire tests were carried out on parts of one floor of the building, resulting in steel beam temperatures up to 1000 °C, leading to deflections up to 600 mm but no collapse and generally no integrity failures (Martin and Moore 1997). “
Those were Experimental Fire Tests at Cardington, not Real Fires … on ‘Engineered’ Test Constructions, not Real Buildings !! And … incredibly, for a 2009 document … there is no mention at all of World Trade Center Buildings 1, 2 or 7 !?! Where did they disappear to, I wonder ? Too hot to handle ???
Computer Model Verification and Validation (V&V) are very problematic issues within the International Fire Science and Engineering Community. The expected outcome of a Model V&V Process, however, is a quantified level of agreement between experimental data (and, if available, real data) and model prediction … as well as the predictive accuracy of the model.
Now … please meditate carefully on the following …
“ NCSTAR 1A (2008) Recommendation D [See also NCSTAR 1 (2005) Recommendation 5)
NIST recommends that the technical basis for the century-old standard for fire resistance testing of components, assemblies and systems be improved through a national effort. Necessary guidance also should be developed for extrapolating the results of tested assemblies to prototypical building systems. A key step in fulfilling this Recommendation is to establish a capability for studying and testing components, assemblies, and systems under realistic fire and load conditions.
Of particular concern is that the Standard Fire Resistance Test does not adequately capture important thermally-induced interactions between structural sub-systems, elements, and connections that are critical to structural integrity. System-level interactions, especially due to thermal expansion, are not considered in the standard test method since columns, girders, and floor sub-assemblies are tested separately. Also, the performance of connections under both gravity and thermal effects is not considered. The United States currently does not have the capability for studying and testing these important fire-induced phenomena critical to structural safety.
Relevance to WTC 7: The floor systems failed in WTC 7 at shorter fire exposure times than the specified fire rating (two hours) and at lower temperatures because thermal effects within the structural system, especially thermal expansion, were not considered in setting the endpoint criteria when using the ASTM E 110 or equivalent testing standard. The structural breakdowns that led to the initiating event, and the eventual collapse of WTC 7, occurred at temperatures that were hundreds of degrees below the criteria that determine structural fire resistance ratings. “
The design approach outlined in NISTIR 7563 is not only very flawed … it lacks any validity … because very relevant and important real fire data has been totally ignored. The Cardington Experimental Fires were not all that they seemed.
c) Current ISO TC92 International Case Study Comparison
Structural Fire Engineering Design of an Airport Terminal Building serving the Capital City of a large country (which shall remain nameless) … constructed using Portal Steel Frames …
My first concern is that the Structural Fire Engineering Design has been undertaken in isolation from other aspects of the Building’s Fire Engineering Design.
On Page 3 of the Case Study Report …
” 4.2 Objectives & Functional Requirements for Fire Safety of Structures
The fire safety objectives of the airport terminal emphasize the safety of life, conservation of property, continuity of operations and protection of the environment. “
Should these not be the Project-Specific Fire Engineering Design Objectives ? Since when, for example, is ‘continuity of operations’ a concern in building codes ??
On Page 7 of the Case Study Report …
” 5.3 Identify Objectives, Functional Requirements & Performance Criteria for Fire Safety of Structure
The Fire Safety Objective of the Steel Structure: There should be no serious damage to the structure or successive collapse in case of fire.
The Functional Requirements are defined as the followings:
(1) Prevent or limit the structural failure in case of fire so as to prevent the fire from spreading within the compartment or to the adjacent fire compartment or the adjacent buildings (to prevent fire spread) ;
(2) Prevent or limit the partial structural failure in case of fire so as to protect the life safety of the occupants and firefighters (to protect life safety) ;
(3) Prevent or limit the structural deformation or collapse so as not to increase the cost or difficulties of the after-fire restoration (to reduce reconstruction cost).
One of the following Performance Requirements shall be met:
(1) The load-bearing capacity of the structure (Rd) shall not be less than the combined effect (Sm) within the required time, that is Rd ≥ Sm. (The maximum permitted deflection for the steel beam shall not be larger than L/400, and the maximum stress of the structure under fire conditions shall not be larger than fyT) ; or
(2) The fire resistance rating of the steel structure (td) shall not be less than the required fire resistance rating (tm), that is, td ≥ tm ; or
(3) Td – the critical internal temperature of the steel structure at its ultimate state shall not be less than Tm (the maximum temperature of the structure within required fire resistance time duration), that is Td ≥ Tm. (300 ℃) “
Once again … we see an emphasis on critical temperature, beam deflection (only), and material strength. L/400 is an impressive Fire Serviceability Limit State … a different world from L/20 or L/30 … but what about other important types of steel structural member deformation, e.g. thermal expansion and distortion ??
Furthermore … if there is a major fire in the area under the lower roof (see Section above) … because of structural continuity, any serious impact on the small frame will also have an impact on the large frame. For Structural Fire Engineering reasons … would it not be wiser to break the structural continuity … and have the small and large portal frames act independently ?
It is proposed that the Portal Frames will NOT be fully fire protected … just the columns, up to a height of 8 metres only. If ‘conservation of property’ and ‘continuity of operations’ are important fire engineering design objectives in this project … why isn’t all of the steel being fully protected ??? What would be the additional cost, as a percentage of the total project cost ?
What exactly is infallible about current Design Fires and Design Fire Scenarios ??? Not much. And in the case of this particular building, should a ‘maximum credible fire scenario’ be at least considered ?
And … what is the fire protection material, product or system being used to protect the Portal Frames ? Will it be applied, fixed or installed correctly ? What is its durability ? Will it be able to resist mechanical damage during the construction process … and afterwards, during the fire event ? What is the reliability of this form of fire protection measure ??
So many questions …
2012-05-03: Yesterday, I mentioned that the Aims & Objectives of CIB Working Commission 14: ‘Fire Safety’ had been substantially updated. More than that … this text is to be regarded as being dynamic … kept under continual review … in order that it will remain fresh, vibrant, and relevant to the needs of the time.
Our discussions in Thessaloniki (Salonika), last week, were a continuation of a process which began in Zurich, during 2010.
Just to remind everyone … this is CIB W14: ‘Fire Safety’ …
Working Commission 14 is an international, multi-stakeholder, trans-disciplinary, pre-normalization forum for discussion and action, on research and innovation in Fire Science and Engineering for the design, construction and operation of a Safe and Sustainable Built Environment.
CIB W14: These are its newly updated Aims & Objectives (2012) …
- To create an ongoing research and innovation focus for the development of a comprehensive, coherent, rational and empirical basis for a Safe and Sustainable Built Environment, which includes fire science and engineering practices, procedures and design methodologies.
- To promote the acceptance of Fire Science and Engineering Practices, Procedures and Design Methodologies worldwide, and to encourage their use in international/regional/national/local building and fire safety legislation, codes, regulations and standards.
- To provide Technical Input, from a fire science and engineering perspective, to other relevant CIB Working Commissions and Task Groups.
- To facilitate the Transfer of State-of-the-Art Fire Science and Engineering Technology at international level.
- To encourage Capacity Building for fire science and engineering worldwide.
- To liaise and co-operate/collaborate with Other Organizations having similar or related aims and objectives.
To Meet CIB W14′s Aims & Objectives …
a) Research and innovation projects with a specific task, well-defined scope and a limited timeframe may be initiated and directly/indirectly undertaken by the Membership of CIB W14 ;
b) Output from these projects and the other work of W14 may be placed in the public domain, in hardcopy and/or electronic formats, as CIB publications, as papers/articles in international journals, conference/seminar/workshop proceedings, and discussion/reflection documents ;
c) Conferences/seminars/workshops and other events which further W14′s Aims & Objectives may be organized by the Membership of W14 ;
d) CIB may endorse conferences/seminars/workshops and other events planned by organizations having similar or related aims and objectives to W14 ; and
e) W14 may circulate its publications, and information on its research and innovation projects, to the membership of other CIB working commissions and task groups.
Interested in Joining CIB W14: ‘Fire Safety’ ?
The CIB WebSite is located at … http://www.cibworld.nl
The CIB General Secretariat is located in The Netherlands. Go to the ‘Contact Us’ WebPage for information … http://www.cibworld.nl/site/contact_us.html
- Send an e-mail to Dr. Wim Bakens, Secretary General of CIB – a man who likes good Irish whiskey (!) – and him ask for a Membership Application Form. His e-mail address: email@example.com Tell him that I sent you, and that you want to join CIB Working Commission 14 ;
- Fill up the Membership Application Form on the CIB WebSite … http://www.cibworld.nl/site/about_cib/fee_system_and_how_to_join.html
The More Diverse Our Membership … The More Creative Our Output !
2012-04-16: Following the 9-11 World Trade Center Extreme Fire Event, in New York City …
The National Institute of Standards & Technology (NIST), in the USA, recommended that Fire-Induced Progressive Collapse be particularly considered in the case of …
- High-Rise Buildings ;
- Iconic Buildings ;
- Buildings Having a Critical Function ;
- Buildings of Innovative Design.
However, as recently discussed … in order to avoid the wide confusion which the term ‘Fire-Induced Progressive Collapse’ is continuing to cause at international level … the preferred term should now be Fire-Induced Progressive Damage.
AND … CIB Working Commission 14: ‘Fire Safety’ – Research Working Group IV: ‘Structural Reliability & Fire-Induced Progressive Damage’ … would strongly caution that Fire-Induced Progressive Damage and Disproportionate Damage are fundamental concepts to be applied in the design of all building types.
[ A height threshold of 5 Storeys for the consideration of Disproportionate Damage, in the Building Codes/Regulations of many jurisdictions, including Ireland, is entirely arbitrary.]
So … what is Fire-Induced Progressive Damage ? And what is the relationship between this structural concept … and Disproportionate Damage ?
Leaving aside all of the crazy conspiracy theories about the collapse of World Trade Center Building No. 7 … is it possible for Conventional Fire Engineering to directly confront what actually happened ? Unfortunately … the reaction still, even today, is to bury the head, ostrich-like, in the sand … and ignore WTC 7 and the 2008 NIST WTC Recommendations (Final Report NCSTAR 1A) !
Yesterday, on an adjoining page here … I uploaded a New CIB W14 International Reflection Document on ‘Structural Reliability & Fire-Induced Progressive Damage’, with 2 Appendices. Scroll down to the section headed ’April 2012′.
This is a Reflection Document issued by CIB W14 Research Working Group IV: ‘Structural Reliability & Fire-Induced Progressive Damage’; its purpose is to examine the ‘hot form’ structural concept of Fire-Induced Progressive Damage, and to propose a critical update to fire engineering design practice. It is also intended to encourage a wider discussion about some of fire engineering’s fundamental tenets, and the future direction of our profession in a rapidly evolving trans-disciplinary approach to the design, construction and operation of a Safe and Sustainable Built Environment.
The Document is written in a simple, generic language which is accessible to design disciplines outside the International Fire Science and Engineering Community. The next phase of this CIB W14 Innovation & Research Project will certainly require the use of a more technical language, complex calculations, computer modelling, etc … and much closer liaison with CIB W14′s other Research Working Groups on Connections, Design Fires & Design Fire Scenarios, and Performance Criteria.
I wish to sincerely thank those individuals and organizations who have contributed to the work of our Research Working Group IV.
Finally, the myth surrounding NIST’s 9-11 WTC Recommendations, i.e. that they are only applicable in the case of Very Tall Buildings during rarely occurring extreme events … must be completely demolished, and obliterated from the face of the earth !
Climate Change Adaptation is already demanding a much higher level of building resilience.
Your Comments on this CIB W14 Reflection Document should be e-mailed to: firstname.lastname@example.org
C.J. Walsh, FireOx International – Ireland, Italy & Turkey.
Chair - CIB W14 Research WG IV.
Update 2012-04-20 …
In response to a discourteous and unprofessional comment about the above CIB W14 WG IV Reflection Document, posted by Mr. Morgan Hurley (Technical Director at the Society of Fire Protection Engineers in the USA) on the LinkedIn SFPE Group WebPage … I wrote, as follows, this morning …
Good Man Morgan !
Relax … there is no need to become defensive quite yet. WG IV’s Reflection Document is simply intended to raise issues … ask questions … and solicit comments from within and, more importantly, from outside the International Fire Science and Engineering Community.
Perhaps of more direct relevance to the SFPE Membership, in the USA, might be the following …
NIST Report: ‘Best Practices for Reducing the Potential for Progressive Collapse in Buildings’ (NISTIR 7396 - February 2007) … is a good document on ‘disproportionate damage’, but it has nothing to say about ‘fire-induced progressive damage’. These two structural concepts are related, but they are not the same.
When discussing Multi-Storey Steel Frame Buildings, on pages 18 and 19, of NIST Report: ‘Best Practice Guidelines for Structural Fire Resistance Design of Concrete and Steel Buildings’ (NISTIR 7563 - February 2009) … what happened to WTC Building 7 on 9-11, and the 2008 NIST WTC Recommendations (NIST NCSTAR 1A), are conveniently and completely ignored. Instead, there is a launch straight into the BRE Fire Tests at Cardington, and computer calculations, in order to justify a very flawed design approach. How crazy is that ?
Hope to see you there next week … we missed you at the last CIB W14 Meeting in Paris !
2012-03-29: The relentless pressure, within the European Union (EU), to bring a greater measure of stability to imported energy supplies … to reduce our overall use of energy … to be far more efficient in the ways we consume those lesser amounts of energy … to find cleaner sources of energy to replace oil, gas, and especially coal … to comply with ambitious targets on climate change mitigation … are all pointing in one direction with regard to design and construction. We are forced to super-insulate new buildings !
Without many people realizing it, however, we change how fire behaves in a highly insulated building … especially when insulation materials are part of the interior finishes, not carefully buried within the construction. [Even the old Building Bye-Laws in Dublin City permitted a cavity in a masonry wall up to 150mm wide !] And, as usual, Building and Fire Regulations are slow to catch up with these important architectural developments.
Let me show you an example of a basement car park in a new hospital (which shall remain nameless !) … where a serious ’fire’ problem has been festering since it was opened, and occupied, a few years ago.
This hospital could be anywhere in Europe …
The ceiling height in this car park is low … approximately 2 metres above floor level. The ceiling comprises a 6mm off-white calcium silicate board of limited combustibility (for the techies out there – this board is not ‘incombustible’, and it is not ‘non-combustible’) … above which is a 40mm rigid phenolic thermal insulation board … all fixed to the underside of a concrete floor slab.
This phenolic insulation board is very efficient … and during the normal course of events, its job is to stop the loss of heat from the hospital wards and other areas above. A cold concrete floor is also very uncomfortable for people, i.e. hospital staff, having to walk around on it for long periods.
Because the insulation board is efficient, and it is fixed to the underside of the floor slab … in a fire situation, let’s say that a fire starts in a car … the heat from that fire will be reflected by the insulation board back downwards. The result: the fire will be encouraged to spread much more quickly to neighbouring vehicles. And so, in a very short time, we will have a much larger fire … and a much more intense fire … which will be far more difficult to control and extinguish, when the fire services eventually arrive on the scene.
There are a Number of Twists in This Story …
1. For all sorts of normal reasons, there are service penetration openings in the car park ceiling shown above (some small and some large), especially in a hospital which is highly serviced … the overall approach to fire and smoke sealing in this new building is not the best … and workmanship is poor …
… which, together, all mean that it will be easy for fire and smoke to spread upwards into the hospital wards and other areas … in the event of a fire emergency.
In a hospital, not everybody is alert and mobile. It will be difficult to evacuate some people … and it will be nearly impossible, because of their health condition, to evacuate others. In order for a fire engineering strategy of horizontal evacuation to a ‘safer’ part of the same building to be successfully put into effect during an emergency … it is imperative … that the level of passive protection from fire and smoke provided is high … much higher, here, than in the case of an average office building, for example. AND … it is critical … that this high level of protection from fire and smoke is reliable.
In this new hospital building … the photographic evidence clearly shows that both of these criteria have not been met.
2. Another twist in the story concerns the rigid phenolic thermal insulation board used in the car park ceiling … which, as the evidence also shows, is exposed to direct view in many places …
In a short, brochure-type document produced by the European Phenolic Foam Association (EPFA): ‘Phenolic Foam Insulation – The Ultimate Insulation System for the Construction & Building Services Industry’, the following is stated with regard to the fire performance of this material …
‘ Toxic gas emission from phenolic foam is generally limited to carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide with very low levels of other gases.’
However, in a report produced by the National Research Council of Canada: ‘Toxicity and Smoke Aspects of Foamed Plastic Insulation – An Annotated Bibliography’ … the following abstracts can be found …
- Toxicity of Off-Gases from Phenolic Rigid Foam
‘ A reference sample of phenolic rigid foam was evaluated for toxicity of off-gases, using various test conditions in the NASA-USF-PSC toxicity screening test method. Test results show that the response of this material to the various test conditions is similar to that exhibited by the majority of other materials previously evaluated by this method. That is, animal response times generally decreased with increasing fixed temperature, and with increasing airflow rate under rising temperature conditions. The authors suggest that formaldehyde is one of the toxicants present although the amount of CO produced at 600°C or higher was enough to be lethal by itself.‘
- Toxicity of Off-Gases from Thermal Insulation
‘ Toxicity test data on the off-gases from various thermal insulation materials are presented in this paper. Under rising temperature without forced airflow test conditions, phenolic foams exhibited the shortest times to death, while polyisocyanurate, polyurethane and polystyrene foams exhibited the longest times to death. The introduction of airflow significantly reduced time to death, apparently due to a higher degree of oxidation and more rapid delivery of toxicants. The authors conclude that under the particular test conditions, plastic thermal insulations appear to exhibit less toxicity than cellulosic board and cellulose insulation, with polyimide and phenolic foams being the exceptions.‘
- Relative Flammability and Toxicity of Thermal Insulation
‘ Relative flammability and relative toxicity data are presented for 30 samples of thermal insulation materials. There appears to be no inherent, necessary compromise between flammability and toxicity in the selection of materials. Cellulosic and plastics insulations appear to represent significantly different combinations of flammability and toxicity hazards, and require different approaches when planning and designing applications. Polyurethane foam appeared to be significantly less toxic and slightly less flammable than wood and other cellulosic materials. Polyisocyanurate foam seemed to be more toxic than polyurethane foam but still less toxic than the cellulosic materials. Polystyrene foam exhibited the longest time to death while phenolic foam showed the second shortest time to death among the group of rigid foams evaluated.‘
- Carbon Monoxide Production from Overheated Thermal Insulation Materials
‘ Carbon monoxide yields were obtained for selected thermal insulation materials. The data are presented and discussed in this paper. Among the rigid foamed plastics, phenolic gave the highest yield of CO under a rising temperature and no airflow test conditions. Polyurethane foams based on propoxylated aromatic amino polyol appeared to produce less CO than polyurethane foams based on propoxylated trimethylolpropane polyol. Under fixed temperatures of 800°C without airflow test conditions, similar results were obtained for the rigid foamed plastics.’
- Toxicity of Pyrolysis Gases from Phenolic and Isocyanurate Rigid Foams
‘ Special reference samples of phenolic and isocyanurate rigid foams were evaluated for toxicity of pyrolysis gases, using 6 different test conditions of the USF toxicity screening test methods. Under rising temperature conditions, phenolic foam appeared to be consistently more toxic than the isocyanurate foam. CO level appears to be the factor, which is twice as high from the phenolic foam. The temperatures corresponding to the times to death indicate that the toxicants were evolved below 500°C for phenolic and below 640°C for isocyanurate. These are in agreement with that of the University of Pittsburgh (UP) data. At a fixed temperature of 800°C, there appeared to be no difference in toxicity between the phenolic and isocyanurate foams, although the former tended to produce more carbon monoxide.’
- Toxicity of Pyrolysis Gases from Phenolic, Isocyanurate and Polystyrene Rigid Foam Insulation
‘ Samples of phenolic, isocyanurate, and polystyrene rigid foam insulation were evaluated for toxicity of pyrolysis gases, using four different test conditions of the toxicity screening test method developed at the University of San Francisco. The test conditions were 200 to 800°C rising temperature and 800°C fixed temperature, each without forced airflow and with 1 L/min airflow. On the average over these four particular test conditions, phenolic foam appeared to exhibit the greatest toxicity and polystyrene foam appeared to exhibit the least toxicity.‘
As already discussed in an earlier post , dated 2011-01-13 … we know that Carbon Monoxide (CO) is an odourless, colourless and toxic gas … and because it is impossible to see, taste or smell the toxic fumes, CO can kill before you are aware it is there.
So … it will be easy for Fire, Visible Smoke and Carbon Monoxide to spread upwards into the hospital wards and other areas of this building … in the event of a fire emergency.
This Hospital’s ‘Fire’ Problem & Its Solution
The ‘fire’ problem in this hospital has been allowed to fester for a number of years because the issues shown in the photographs above are either inadequately addressed … or not addressed at all … in Ireland’s Technical Guidance Document (TGD) B … a document which is intended merely to present some supporting guidance for operating Part B: ‘Fire Safety’, in the 2nd Schedule of the Building Regulations.
Unfortunately, all parties directly responsible for this hospital debacle are under the very mistaken impression that the guidance in Technical Guidance Document B is prescriptive regulation. This is a major error ! Furthermore … TGD B is fundamentally flawed … and it is particularly inadequate when the building type is a health facility.
To Correct This ‘Fire’ Problem … a Fire Suppression System should immediately be installed in the basement car park. At the same time, if not before … ALL Service Penetration Openings in the concrete floor slab should be properly sealed so that, during a fire incident, the passage of fire and smoke and CO into building spaces above the slab will be prevented. And … the quality of workmanship, on site, must be high !
An appropriate number of Carbon Monoxide Detectors should be installed in the hospital wards and other areas above the concrete floor slab.
The ‘Institutional’ Problem
The procedure of having to submit so-called Compliance Reports with applications for Fire Safety Certificates, in Ireland, only confirms … and reinforces … the very mistaken impression in everybody’s minds that the guidance in Technical Guidance Document B is prescriptive regulation.
In the case of a different hospital … let me give you an example of a text contained in one such Compliance Report … submitted to an Irish Local Authority, sometime during 2004 …
Single Steps at Final Exit Doors
It is noted that Clause 220.127.116.11 of TGD-B is ambiguous vis-à-vis steps located on the line of final exit doors, i.e. as opposed to a condition where there is a step beyond the line of a door. Accordingly, it is reasonable and appropriate to make reference to the current England and Wales Approved Document B (2000 Edition) for guidance on this issue in so far as Technical Guidance Document B is based on an early draft of the Approved Document. It is noted that the UK AD-B in Clauses 6.15 and 6.21 specifically allow single steps at final exits provided they are located on the line of the doorway in question. Furthermore, the recently issued Northern Ireland Technical Bulletin E (1994) also allows such steps, subject to the riser not exceeding 180mm. On the basis of the foregoing, single steps are considered acceptable at the final exit doors subject to the riser not exceeding 180mm and the step being located on the line of the door.
This is mindless, incompetent nonsense … and it was accepted by the Local Authority.
How often, anymore, does anybody encounter a step … 180mm high, or of any height … at the front entrance to a new building ? Building designers have finally understood the message that new buildings must be accessible-for-all … and a single step, in any situation, is a trip or a fall accident waiting to happen. Now imagine the situation where people are attempting to evacuate an average office building, for example, during a fire emergency … and they encounter a single step at the final fire exit !?! Now really stretch your imagination … and imagine where people are trying to evacuate a hospital !!??!!
The System is not only entirely dysfunctional … it is corrupt !
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