Structural Fire Engineering ASCE/SEI 7

I have finally gotten around to watching the SFPE Webinar " New Standard of Care for Structural Fire Protection Analyses" presented by Kevin LaMalva.
The presentation was around the new ASCE/SEI 7 standard for structural fire engineering which appears to have been in development for the last two years. I found a couple of interesting concepts where raised, notably:
Structural fire engineering needs to also consider extreme events (I’m thinking World Trade Centre), also normal loads plus fire loads plus snow loads etc.
The new standard also requires engineers to discount the effects of an operative sprinkler system - which is counter to what many fire engineers have learnt, (around the 30 minute mark in the presentation),
The standard also debunks some key concepts of equivalent fire severity - such as the Equal area Concept and The Maximum Temperature Concept. The presentation actually uses two slides from Buchanan (Structural Design for Fire Safety Chapter 5.5)

I would be interested to hear comments:

  • What does the Structural Engineering fraternity have to say about the new ASCE/SEI 7?
  • Any comments from MBIE regarding the new ASCE/SEI 7? Will any aspects of the NZBC be revised to incorporate these concepts?
  • Any comments from the University of Canterbury and Andy Buchanan about the issues of equivalent fire severity?
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For SFPE (international) members, webinars (including this one) are on line at which has some good watching.

on this subject by the same author:

I will sit down with this video and a glass of wine another night, it looks interesting.

Having watched this now myself, I think that it also “debunked” the Eurocode code equation that we used to determine fire rating in the same way as it debunked the equal area and maximum temperature concepts.
My understanding of the approach for the “specific design” type method, is that the structural response to a “real” fire time temperature curve (or at least a suitably real design fire curve) is assessed. The equal area approach, in my understanding, was originally proposed to be used only for plasterboard separations, as it was a way relating the insulation performance of the plasterboard in a real fire to furnace testing results. As any structural modelling of heating and cooling would need to specifically include the insulation performance for both aspects, I don’t think it would be particularly valid to mix and match furnace tested information with that type of approach. Going on what I understood from the presentation, I think the issue is not the concept itself, but that it cannot be applied to that approach. Any one else agree/disagree with that understanding?

As Peter said - I would be interested to hear what other structural/fire engineers have to say on the approach in the standard - whether it may have relevance or use in the New Zealand environment. It would need “buy-in” from the structural engineering fraternity and much more collaboration between the fire and structural engineers.

I must admit that the proposal to do away with the time based fire rating numbers is attractive as it seems to cause a lot of misunderstanding with the general public, although it is so ingrained now, I don’t see how it could be replaced easily.

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