Subject of Structural Fire Safety: Analytical Essay

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This paper will explore the information known until know about the subject of Structural Fire Safety. Not only will it consider the present solutions to its problems, but it will also examine and explain most of the details given to the public while also predicting the future and the development of this practice and practitioners. It will start its informing and summarizing part with mentioning the strategies, preventions and passive elements of a fire hazard situation. It will go in detail in the containment, active measurements and extinguishment topics; and lastly the essay will conclude with the predictions famous research organizations have already done for the subject speaking.

Some people might think that structural fire safety is not important in a building, since steel and concrete do not burn as if they were made of hay. But unfortunately they do not know of the immense effects that fire and overheating cause in a building. When temperatures rise over the specified temperature of 540 Celsius Degrees for steel placed under load, it starts to lose its margin of safety and buckle. While for concrete that temperature is approximately 300 Celsius Degrees, and in that state irreversible chemical reactions start to occur which will definitely lead to catastrophic events. The prevention of such events by combining different materials and measurements is referred to as STRUCTURAL FIRE SAFETY. It is commonly known that it is the union between two divisions of science related to the same damaging events. The first division is closely related to protection before the event of fire/overheating. In this case the building elements are coated with fire resistant materials which might delay the process of overheating. This phase is what is commonly known as Internal Structural Coating. However, that delay does not stop the fire from spreading and this is where the second phase of fire protection known as Inner and Outer Fire Safety comes to aid. As a whole, Structural Fire Safety is the set of Practices intended to reduce the destruction caused by fire hazards. Fire hazards are blocked escape situations created during a fire or even that may cause a fire. Measures done in this set of practices included those that are planned during the construction of a building or implemented in structures that are already standing and those that are taught to the people which live in those buildings.


Mainly for professionals of the field to ensure safety the need to rely on some strategies such as:

  • Prevention – which consists of the control and restrain of fuel sources
  • Communication – the distribution of fire systems so that inhabitants are informed
  • Escape – the positioning of safety escape routes in case of a fire hazards
  • Containing – which consists of limiting the acting and spreading area of a fire
  • Extinguishment – Securing the hazard as fast as possible and keeping the consequences at minimal values

It is expected that the Fire Safety engineers use and calculate every part of these strategies for a building to be labeled firstly as fire safe and later as functional.


There are only 3 components needed to start a fire. From the most problematic to the least they are as follow:

  1. Oxygen
  2. An ignition source
  3. Fuels

Since it is almost impossible to not have any oxygen in a living environment it is considered as the most problematic factor out of the three.

To prevent ignition mainly engineers design out a possible situation and its possible ignition bases, and they create options for the sole purpose of building being enabled to be managed in such a way that a possible ignition risk is zeroed.

Together with they examine the natural/abnormal causes that might affect the building’s fire stability. Such phenomena would be:

  1. Natural Phenomena – Earthquakes, Forest Fires, Lightning strikes, etc.
  2. Human negligence – The hardest cases to be predicted since they consist of smoking, fire incorporating appliances etc.
  3. Technological Fiascos – Plant rooms, Boiler houses, large kitchens, labs and other special service buildings because they need a really precise distribution of fire safety appliances.
  4. Not limiting fueling materials can increase the growth rate and smoke load of indoor fires.


As mentioned before to secure a structure’s fire safety, escape routes and communication are compulsory. Without one of them the damage rate of a pyro hazard is increased tenfold.

Usually the first step when being present in a situation of fire spreading through the building, the first steps are to call the respective rescue services either manually or automatic measures. Primary information reported is the location and the size of the fire. Usually automatic communication measures are accompanied with sprinklers and smoke control systems, and manual systems such as fire extinguishers.

After the risk of getting damaged beyond repair, the inhabitants of the building, usually tend to find the escape routes or even find a safe place to hide if the path is blocked. Buildings have to be designed such that escape is safe in the event of a fire. The risk related to escape routes are related closely to the overwhelming presence of heat and smoke. Normally varying between situations, there have been set 3 basic escape methods which follow as:

  • Egressing – A direct escape in the event of an alarm being sounded
  • Seeking Refuge – Providing a safe place inside a building by using fire resistance materials and laws.
  • Rescue – If the 2 first solutions are not applicable usually the inhabitants of the building are rescued by the proper and responsible authorities such as the firemen department.

Suppression of fire hazards

There are 2 main types of fire suppression or containment. Usually this division of Structural Fire resistance is not only joined by fire safety engineers but also law inspectors specialized in insurance policies. However, even though it attracts law professionals it is mainly managed by the engineers. It consists of passive measures and active ones. Usually addressing both heat and smoke perils, it helps devising an exact suppression measurement in both passive and active cases. Passive methods take in consideration building envelope, subdivision and its whole structure, which by being analyzed aid to perimeter the extent of fire and smoke. However, in some heavy fire cases, passive measures are ineffective, such creating the need to for active methods of suppression. Usually they require a form of communication between the inhabitants and authorities. The passive and active measures are exploited as follows.

By measuring an elements ability to withstand the effects of fire is called Fire Resistance. This capability can be measured in one or more ways:

  • Collapse Resistance – applicable only to loadbearing elements
  • Fire Penetration Resistance – maintaining the integrity of the element if exposed directly to fire
  • Excessive Heat Resistance – the ability to provide insulation to extreme measures.

In some cases materials’ fire resistances can be improved, while in others they have an already high temperature resistance meaning that there is no need for intervention. Some heat resistance interventions are:

  • Size increase – increasing the size of a composite element so that the effect of one of the elements does not affect overall structural performance.
  • Insulating – coating with insulation material
  • Dissipation – Securing the traveling route of the heat by joining a group of elements together.

Some structural materials can withstand a certain level of fire protection, which depends on:

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  • Escaping needs
  • Extinguishing time

According to the world wide known document of Building Regulations, it I compulsory that the structural elements which provide support to:

  • A roof
  • An external wall
  • A separating wall
  • A gallery support roof (which also functions as a roof)
  • A compartment wall

have to have fire protection. As soon as the period of time that a building can withstand a fire is determined, it is proceeded to design the degree of fire safety the structural elements should have.

By dividing buildings into smaller sections by using compartment walls and floors, which are made by heat and fire resisting materials, engineers are able to block and slowdown the path and spreading of a fire.

Fire sectioning:

  • Inhibits a rapid fire spread
  • Limits the chances of a fire becoming dangerous
  • Limits the destruction dealt on to a structure and its contents

The degree of sectioning done to a building is commonly decided by:

  • What type of usage the building will have in the future
  • The amount of fire load present in the structure
  • The structures height
  • The readiness of a functioning automatic sprinklers

As it can be imagined by the name a passive enveloping protection encloses a structure and limits the threat imposed by a fire to the adjacent buildings and the people outside the building.

Close attention is given to the roof and outer walls, which are designed such that flaming flying particles do not get carried away by convectional air currents and fire does not breach. Especially on adjacent buildings, heat radiating from the outer walls is extremely dangerous in such an extent that the building could flame up quicker than the fire source building. This is usually reduced by reducing the number of windows and other types of openings I the outer walls.

Although safe spaces are structured such that smoke does not flow in, in the event of movement and doors opening, smoke will certainly flow inside that room. This type of danger can be limited by using the lobby method of access in staircases which provides a type of blockage with only one opened door at a time.

A different approach is to protect safe spaces such as stairs and hallways with constant fresh currents of air being constantly provided to those areas. Such those areas are kept smokeless and the pressure there is greater than that of the nearby rooms. In the case of a door being opened smoke wont flow in due to the event of air flowing out.

Usually smoke gets cleaned by the roof ventilation, but always a layer of smoke gets clustered under floors and roofs, and with the passing of time that level of smoke rapidly slopes. This problem is solved by implying mechanical ventilators that start working on command or automatically in the case of a fire. These systems have to be designed that the flow of smoke out of the building is equal to the amount of smoke getting produced such that the smoke layer level does not increase. Another method is by using smoke curtains which fall automatically in the case of a fire, and their function is to trap smoke.

Commonly referred as extinguish agents:

  • Water
  • Carbon Dioxide
  • Foam
  • Halon Gas
  • Dry Powder

These agents have a high application rate such that they can be either used automatically or manually by inhabitants or fire service personnel.

The most commonly known fire defense systems are sprinklers which are obligatory for any building taller than 30 meters. They usually activate in the event of a fire, when reaching 68 Celsius Degrees or even manually by activating a switch of sort. Commonly they have a 9 square meter radius and are devised such that they have to halt the progress of the fire or at least delay it.

In some buildings it is not safe to work near heat and fire due to certain circumstances, so the fire safety personnel have to sacrifice their lives to save others. So that this does not happen engineers must provide a secure operating base which should include:

  • Routes for Firefighters
  • Stairs for Firefighters
  • Lifts for Firefighters
  • Shafts for Firefighters

Future possibilities

Due to the unexpected rate of technological growth that humanity is now experiencing, developments in many fields are expected. Usually humanity tends to care more for what could potentially prolong their lives. I this case new inventions such as the extinguisher ball have been created which ease the work of firefighters and increase the fire security level of different buildings.


  1. Fire Safety Design ( )
  2. Structural Fire Protection ( )
  3. Structural Fire Protection Jensen Hughes ( )
  4. Fire Safety ( )
  5. WBDG Structural Fire Protection ( )
  6. The Full Wiki Structural Fire Protection ( )
  7. How to prevent Industrial Fires EHTS Today ( )
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Subject of Structural Fire Safety: Analytical Essay. (2022, September 27). Edubirdie. Retrieved April 17, 2024, from
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