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September 2013 – Fire protection design update

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More is known about the performance of structural steel in fire than is known about any other material. Designers in other materials might have to be satisfied with the results of very limited furnace tests conducted a long time ago, but those using structural steelwork can be confident that the performance they expect has been proven through full scale fire testing.

Steel Construction: Fire Protection sets out the design procedure for structural steel and is being distributed with this issue of NSC and almost 100,000 copies will be distributed free through key construction magazines over the coming weeks.

The process of demonstrating fire performance of a steel framed building is simple and straightforward. The new publication is a reference aid for designers in identifying the design fire resistance period and determining the appropriate fire protection necessary to meet this requirement. Steel has a fairly consistent share of the multi storey building market of around 70%, and these are precisely the sort of structures where fire protection is a key consideration.

Fire protection is not an additional cost that has to be factored in after the steel frame has been procured; it is included in the upfront cost and is not an extra. One of the factors that have maintained steel’s market leading position has been reduction in the cost of fire protection – fire protection has never been cheaper.

Advances in the science of fire protection have altered the market share of different systems. Seventy per cent of steel structures now use intumescent coatings, with some 25% of that being applied offsite, compared with less than 20% two decades ago.

The contents of the guide will form the basis of one of the presentations at the forthcoming autumn series of Steel Essentials seminars to be held in October and November in Cardiff, London, Leeds and Edinburgh.

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