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Safety of Threatened Buildings Program William Grosshandler Building and Fire Research Laboratory National Institute of Standards and Technology Gaithersburg, MD Fire Resistive Materials Workshop July 14, 2005 Threats to Safety in Public & Commercial Buildings Traditional fire hazards

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Safety of Threatened Buildings Program

William Grosshandler

Building and Fire Research Laboratory

National Institute of Standards and Technology

Gaithersburg, MD

Fire Resistive Materials Workshop

July 14, 2005


Threats to Safety in Public & Commercial Buildings

  • Traditional fire hazards
  • Combined hazards
  • Terrorist threats
  • Performance envelope of structures
stakeholders and partners in r d program for safety of threatened buildings
Stakeholders and Partners in R&D Program for Safety of Threatened Buildings

Fire & Emergency Service

Construction Industry

Codes and Standards Organizations





Government Agencies

Industry Suppliers

Structural Engineering

and Design

Fire Safety Engineering


Testing labs


What is Safety of Threatened Buildings Program?

  • Part of the NIST post-9/11 response plan
  • Extension and enhancement of pre-9/11ongoing R&D
  • Objective: To provide a technical foundation that supports improvements to codes, standards, and practices that reduce the impact of extreme threats to the safety of buildings, their occupants & emergency responders.
  • Anticipated Major Outcomes:
        • Increased Structural Integrity
        • Enhanced Fire Resistance
        • Improved Emergency Egress & Access
        • Building & Emergency Equip. Standards & Guidelines



Components of Safety of Threatened Buildings Prgm

Increased Structural Integrity

  • Prevention of Progressive Collapse; PI: H.S. Lew
  • To develop and implement performance criteria for codes and standards, tools, and practical guidance for prevention of progressive structural collapse.
    • No progressive collapse provisions in current U.S. bldg. codes
    • Lack of design tools
    • NIBS workshop (DTAP)
Definition of Progressive Collapse: Spread of structural failure by a chain reaction, disproportionate to a localized triggering failure.
    • Loss of gravity load capacity of structural system
    • Inability of the structural system to redistribute the load
  • Project Goal: To prevent loss of lives and injuries due to progressive collapse of buildings.
    • Initiating events
      • Impact
      • Explosion
      • Blast
      • Fire

Components of Safety of Threatened Buildings Prgm

Enhanced Fire Resistance

  • Fire Protective Coatings for Structural Steel; PI: Dale Bentz
    • Predictive criteria for selection of fire protective coatings to accelerate
    • development of materials with reduced vulnerability to extreme events.
  • Fire Resistance of Uncoated Structural Steel; PI: Frank Gayle
      • Develop efficient test method for evaluating fire resistance of steel
      • Benefits of FR steel not adequately tested under ASTM E119

Fire Resistance of Building Partitions; PI: Dick Gann

Technical basis for accurate measurement & prediction

methodologies for inclusion of fire resistance properties of walls,

floors & ceilings in performance-based fire safety design

Fire Safe Building Structures; PI: John Gross

To develop and implement verified and improved standards, tools,

methodology and guidance for the fire safety design and retrofit of

concrete and steel structures.


Fire Resistance of Building Partitions:

  • Ability to confine a fire for time sufficient to allow occupant evacuation
  • Standards successful in reducing fires that have caused loss of life/property - limited value for quantitative design
  • Benefit to public safety - putting fire resistance description of partitions on an absolute basis


    • Conduct real scale tests of wall assemblies
    • Develop model of time to failure modes --
      • Heat, smoke, and flames
    • Establish apparatus needed for model input data
    • Develop and validate method(s) at minimum scale for obtaining thermal and failure data on assemblies

Wall Location


NAFTL Round Robin:

  • Compare behavior of different vertical furnaces
  • Data used by labs to assess relative performance of their furnaces
  • Data used by NIST to develop relationship between furnace behavior and
  • actual fires - understand cracking/failure of gypsum boards

Gypsum Non-Load Bearing

Wall Partition

Exposed Face

92 mm

22 gauge

Unexposed Face

28.5 mm

304.8 cm





9 screws (30.5 cm o.c.)

304.8 cm

182.8 cm

60.9 cm

Vertical Furnace

UL Northbrook


Global Collaboration on Prediction of Structural Fire Performance:

  • Objective - To establish a global collaboration to conduct identified research that addresses outstanding technical issues needed to perform engineering analysis of structural reaction to fire.
  • Approach - Establish a consortium of research labs and funding sources who would address the issues in a coordinated program leading to a generally accepted engineering method. Organization and coordination of the program would be done through CIB W14 as an independent international body.

Collaboration Partners:

Working -plan awaiting funding - no response


Components of Safety of Threatened Buildings Prgm

Improved Emergency Egress & Access

Occupant Behavior and Egress

PI: R. Peacock

Reliable predictions of time to egress

Emergency Use of Elevators; PI: R. Bukowski

Technical and procedural means to allow use of elevators during

emergencies for evacuation of occupants with disabilities from,

and for first responder access to, high rise buildings


Components of Safety of Threatened Buildings Prgm

Building & Emergency Equipment Stds & Guidelines

  • Developing, Managing and Disseminating Building Information During Emergencies; PIs: K. Reed, S. Treado, W. Healy
  • Services that enable ready access to building systems data by first responders;
  • Managing heterogeneous wireless sensor networks in buildings;
  • Ensuring secure dissemination of building information to emergency responders.

Technologies for Building Operations in CBR Attacks

PI: Andy Persily

Analysis tools and guidance for assessment and subsequent

reductions in vulnerability of buildings to CBR attacks

Cost-effective Risk Management Tools; PI: Bob Chapman

User-friendly tool for building owners/managers to aid in selection of cost-

effective strategies for management of terrorist and environmental risks


Implications for Standards

  • Test methods for mechanical and thermal properties of fire proofing materials
      • gypsum
      • SFRM
      • intumescents
  • Test methods for performance of partitions in fire
  • Test methods for performance of structural materials in fire
      • high temperature steels
      • high strength concrete
      • composites (organic and inorganic)
  • Test methods for strength of connections at fire temperatures.

Issues specific to ASTM E119

  • Time as the Unit of Rating
  • Rating system should be immune to misinterpretation.
  • ASTM E119 is a prescriptive standard; units of time
  • imply absolute level of performance which has not
  • been justified by analysis, actual fire tests, nor
  • historical record.
  • Express rating on non-dimensional relative scale that is
  • continuous (not discreet) and easily converted to large
  • data base on fire resistance that already exists.

Issues specific to ASTM E119

  • Resolution and Uncertainty of Rating
  • Account for variability in test method and test specimen
  • that are beyond control of best laboratory practices.
  • Different laboratories conducting tests on two specimens
  • designed to be identical will produce a time to failure that
  • differs by some amount, which should be default value
  • for uncertainty.
  • Alternative methods for evaluating resolution and
  • uncertainty could involve replicate tests or historical
  • data.

Issues specific to ASTM E119

  • Running Test to Failure
  • Need for improved measurement techniques.
  • Collect data on all performance criteria relevant to the
  • application of the construction element:
        • temperatures throughout element
        • deflections throughout element
        • penetration of flame through element
  • Record and make available all results as function of time.
  • Establish rating based upon multiple criteria.

Need for National Structural Fire Resistance Laboratory

    • To enable structural fire resistance to be rigorously evaluated so that safety benefit of improvements to related building fire codes and standards can be demonstrated to all major stakeholders.