Fire Engineering must begin to respond effectively … with creativity and imagination

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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