CIB Working Commission 14 – ‘Fire Safety’

2014 Zero Project Accessibility Conference – More Hot Air !!

2014-02-07:  Another year, and here we go again !   Except this time around … the bullshit, hot air and ‘blah-blah-blah’ must end !!   Certainly here, and at every other opportunity as well … I will demand to hear far less talk, but to see a lot more effective action on this important issue of human and social rights !!!

Just before Christmas (2013), I received a personal invitation to attend the Zero Project Conference on Accessibility for All, which will take place in a few weeks time on 27 & 28 February … at the United Nations Offices in Vienna (one of my favourite cities), Austria.  You can read all the details about the conference here: http://zeroproject.org/conference/    The following is my polite and restrained reply to that invitation, dated 14 January 2014 …

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RE: 2014 Zero Project Conference on Accessibility for All

To Whom It May Concern,

Thank you very much for your invitation to attend the upcoming Zero Project Conference on ‘Accessibility’ … but, having carefully examined the Draft Conference Programme, I must decline … and will not be attending.

Concerning Accessibility for All … the biggest problem within the European Accessibility Community is that we are all talk and no action.  The shameful reality is that the Human Environment (including the social – built – virtual – economic environments) remains emphatically inaccessible throughout Europe and far beyond !

Even though the U.N. Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) is in place, ratified by the European Union and many of the EU Member States … and International Standard ISO 21542: ‘Building Construction – Accessibility and Usability of the Built Environment’ has been fully adopted … the first conference session is still asking the basic question “What is Accessibility ?”

Instead of a detailed examination of how the elaborate Accessibility Agenda contained in Articles 9, 11 and 19 of the UN CRPD can be properly and satisfactorily implemented, in an independently monitored (Art. 33), harmonized and culturally-sensitive manner across the globe … you will be presenting an ‘Access’ Beauty Pageant.  Istanbul, a beautiful city with which I am very familiar, is only at the earliest stages of awareness about accessibility … and the recently published Hong Kong Fire Safety Code completely ignores fire safety for building occupants with disabilities !   Ireland is determined to delay ratification of the UN CRPD for as long as possible, and will refuse to ratify the Convention’s Optional Protocol … and I also know that implementation of the CRPD is meeting stiff resistance within the Institutions of the European Union.

Sustainable Development and the Post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s) receive no attention in the Zero Project Conference Programme … even though it took a lot of effort to ensure that the innovative and forward-looking Preamble Paragraph (g) was incorporated in the Convention.  Within the rapidly evolving SDG drafting process, it is still not properly understood why and how Accessibility for All is a fundamental attribute of a Sustainable and Resilient Human Environment.

Concerning Mainstreaming … I describe a typical ‘real’ situation on our Technical Blog ( www.cjwalsh.ie/2012/11/new-legal-normative-environment-for-accessibility-in-europe/ ) … but this constant annoying struggle, and discussion on finding common approaches to its successful resolution, are absent from the Programme.

For us, attendance at the 2014 Zero Project Conference would be a waste of scarce organization resources.  For Europe, however, the Conference represents a much greater waste … a magnificent opportunity missed !

Regards,

C. J. Walsh, B Arch FRIAI MIBCI MIFS MIFireE – Consultant Architect, Fire Engineer & Technical Controller.

  • Member, CIB Task Group 87: ‘Urban Resilience – Benchmarking & Metrics’.
  • Member, CIB Working Commission 14: ‘Fire Safety’.
  • Chair, CIB W14 Research Working Group IV: ‘Structural Reliability & Fire-Induced Progressive Damage’.
  • Member, CIB Working Commission 108: ‘Climate Change & the Built Environment’.
  • Member, EU Expert Working Group on Urban Environment Research.
  • Member, EU EYPD Expert Group on Accessibility.

Managing Director, Sustainable Design International Ltd. (Ireland & Italy) and Sürdürülebilir Tasarım Tic.Ltd.Şti. (Turkey).

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This 2014 Zero Project Conference on Accessibility for All is divorced from Reality … and the Real Needs of many vulnerable people in all of our communities !

Without an Effectively Accessible Human Environment (including the social, built, virtual and economic environments) … access to many other human and social rights, e.g. education, housing, medicine, voting, etc., is prevented and unjustly barred.

Building Accessibility has been clearly specified in the new International Standard ISO 21542: ‘Building Construction – Accessibility & Usability of the Built Environment’ 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’.

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CIB W14’s Newly Updated Aims & Objectives – A Dynamic Text

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.

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CIB W14: These are its newly updated Aims & Objectives (2012)

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. To provide Technical Input, from a fire science and engineering perspective, to other relevant CIB Working Commissions and Task Groups.
  4. To facilitate the Transfer of State-of-the-Art Fire Science and Engineering Technology at international level.
  5. To encourage Capacity Building for fire science and engineering worldwide.
  6. To liaise and co-operate/collaborate with Other Organizations having similar or related aims and objectives.

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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.

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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

Then …

  • 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: wim.bakens@cibworld.nl   Tell him that I sent you, and that you want to join CIB Working Commission 14 ;

or …

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The More Diverse Our Membership … The More Creative Our Output !

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‘Fire-Induced Progressive Damage’ – New CIB W14 Document

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) !

Colour photograph showing World Trade Center Building No. 7 in ruins, after 9-11 in New York City ... when Fire-Induced Progressive Damage led to Disproportionate Damage, and finally to total building failure ... a Collapse Level Event (CLE) which is entirely unacceptable to the general population of any community or society. Click to enlarge.

Colour photograph showing World Trade Center Building No. 7 in ruins, after 9-11 in New York City ... when Fire-Induced Progressive Damage led to Disproportionate Damage, and finally to total building failure ... a Collapse Level Event (CLE) which is entirely unacceptable to the general population of any community or society. Click to enlarge.

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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.

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Your Comments on this CIB W14 Reflection Document should be e-mailed to: fireox@sustainable-design.ie

C.J. Walsh, FireOx International – Ireland, Italy & Turkey.

Chair – CIB W14 Research WG IV.

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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 !

C.J.

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Dublin IFE Fire Conference – Sustainable Fire Engineering !

2010-10-18:  Nothing less than a complete Paradigm Shift to Sustainable Fire Engineering is now needed … because it is Necessary … because it is Inevitable … because it is The Future !!!

This process will not proceed, however, unless the International Fire Science & Engineering Community begins to communicate and engage, meaningfully, with the Mainstream Construction Sector … where this process is already well advanced.

One Organization in our community has recently decided to bite the bullet … CIB (International Council for Research & Innovation in Building & Construction) … where Working Commission 14 (W14) – ‘Fire Safety’ … agreed, at a meeting in Zurich, to significantly expand and elaborate its own Scope … please note the keywords in bold text …

A CIB Working Commission … W14 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.

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Colour image showing the Title Page of CJ Walsh's Presentation at the Institution of Fire Engineers (Ireland Branch) Annual Fire Conference ... which will be held on Wednesday, 20th October 2010, in Dublin. Click to enlarge.

Colour image showing the Title Page of CJ Walsh’s Presentation at the Institution of Fire Engineers (Ireland Branch) Annual Fire Conference … which will be held on Wednesday, 20th October 2010, in Dublin. Click to enlarge.

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This will be my important message on Wednesday next, 20th October 2010, when I address the Institution of Fire Engineers (Ireland Branch) Annual Fire Conference … which will be held in the Dublin Fire Brigade Training Centre, Marino, Dublin 1 … beginning at 09.30 hrs in the morning.

Institution of Fire Engineers (Ireland Branch)

2010 IFE Annual Fire Conference Brochure

Click the Link Above to read and/or download PDF File (326kb)

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Three Powerful Pulling Forces for Change … or should I say Dragging Forces, with a lot of kicking and screaming involved (!) … will have a direct impact …

1.  Sustainable Design

The interior view shown below is not that of a Sustainable Building … but of a Modern Architectural Icon, designed by the Master Architect Mies van der Rohe towards the end of the 1920’s … way back in the last century !   Two innovative architectural concepts are elegantly illustrated in the photograph …

  • Open Planning – one space ‘flows’ into the next without interruption by a physical barrier … drawing the eye and encouraging movement.  In this particular building … a building of architectural, cultural and historical importance … any attempt to impose ‘fire compartmentation’ on the layout would be utterly ridiculous !
  • Separation of Building Structure & Fabric – notice the column in the foreground.  This is quite unlike the massive form of building construction in the past !

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Colour photograph showing an Interior View of the Barcelona Pavilion, designed by the German Architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe in 1929. Photograph taken by CJ Walsh. 2009-03-20. Click to enlarge.

Colour photograph showing an Interior View of the Barcelona Pavilion, designed by the German Architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe in 1929. Photograph taken by CJ Walsh. 2009-03-20. Click to enlarge.

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Fire Engineering is still trying to grapple … unsuccessfully … with innovative approaches, dating from the early part of the 20th Century, to Architectural Design.  In the 21st Century, Sustainable Design – not Green Design – involves a far more radical approach to Design, the use of Building Materials, and Construction.  In the face of this much greater challenge, Fire Engineering must begin to respond effectively … with creativity and imagination.  There is no other alternative !

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2.  Cul-de-Sac of Current Fire Engineering

Working in Building Control at the time … I encountered the Typical Building Detail shown below in an early 1990’s Dublin Hotel Extension Project … comprising a 10 metre span steel beam … with non-loadbearing steel stud partitioning beneath, separating a corridor from bedrooms … each with 1 Hour’s Fire Resistance.  During a fire and long before the period of 1 Hour has elapsed … that steel beam will have deflected by a considerable dimension.  What happens, then, to the non-loadbearing steel stud partition, below, and its fire resistance performance ???   This makes no sense.

Does current Fire Engineering have a robust rational and empirical basis … or is it just one remove from Voodoo and Witchcraft ??

Black and white 'concept' drawing, with a small touch of colour, showing a typical detail in an early 1990's Dublin Hotel Extension Project ... of a 10 metre span steel beam ... with non-loadbearing steel stud partitioning beneath, separating a corridor from bedrooms ... each with 1 hour's fire resistance ?!? Drawn by CJ Walsh.

Black and white ‘concept’ drawing, with a small touch of colour, showing a typical detail in an early 1990’s Dublin Hotel Extension Project … of a 10 metre span steel beam … with non-loadbearing steel stud partitioning beneath, separating a corridor from bedrooms … each with 1 hour’s fire resistance ?!? Drawn by CJ Walsh.

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3.  NIST(USA) Recommendations on the 9-11 WTC Building Collapses

Determined resistance by Vested Interests … a Lack of Institutional Capacity, i.e. failure to be able to properly anticipate, or to be adequately prepared, and/or to respond effectively and in a timely manner to major fire incidents … and a small element of the ‘Issue Attention Cycle’, where considerable investment in time and resources were necessary to make real progress on the issues thrown up by 9-11 but, unfortunately, governmental and public attention soon waned and dissipated … shifting to new problems, e.g. the Illegal Iraq ‘Crusade’ … have all contributed to a situation where there has been little in the way of substantive implementation of the Recommendations contained in the 2005 and 2008 NIST(USA) Reports on the 9-11 WTC Buildings 1, 2 & 7 Collapses … in the United States of America, Europe … or anywhere else.

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Colour photograph of the World Trade Center Complex in New York, taken at the time of the 2nd Plane Impact during the morning of Tuesday, 11th September 2001. Click to enlarge.

Colour photograph of the World Trade Center Complex in New York, taken at the time of the 2nd Plane Impact during the morning of Tuesday, 11th September 2001. Click to enlarge.

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That is not our approach, here, at FireOx International – the Fire Engineering Division of Sustainable Design International Ltd.  Instead, we have decided to present all of the NIST Recommendations … to our readers … in a Series of Posts on this Technical Blog.

Sustainable Fire Engineering HAS a robust rational and empirical basis !

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