Ar C.J. Walsh – Consultant Architect, Fire Engineer & Technical Controller – International Expert on Sustainability Implementation + Accessibility-for-All + Fire Safety for All + Sustainable Fire Engineering
International Fire Science and Engineering Community
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) !
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.
C.J. Walsh, FireOx International – Ireland, Italy & Turkey.
Chair – CIB W14 Research WG IV.
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 !
2011-12-08:NIST WTC Recommendations 29-30 > Improved Fire Education … GROUP 8. Education and Training – Recommendations 29 & 30 (out of 30)
2011-12-15: You know what is coming soon … so Merry Christmas & Happy New Year to One and All !!
1.There were 2 Important Reasons for undertaking this Series of Posts …
(a) The General Public, and particularly Client Organizations, should be facilitated in directly accessing the core content of the 2005 NIST WTC Recommendations. Up to now, many people have found this to be a daunting task. More importantly, I also wanted to clearly show that implementation of the Recommendations is still proceeding far too slowly … and that today, many significant aspects of these Recommendations remain unimplemented. Furthermore, in the case of some recent key national standards, e.g. British Standard BS 9999, which was published in 2008 … the NIST Recommendations were entirely ignored.
As a golden rule … National Building Codes/Regulations and National Standards … cannot, should not, and must not … be applied without informed thought and many questions, on the part of a building designer !
(b) With the benefit of hindsight, and our practical experience in FireOx International … I also wanted to add a necessary 2011 Technical Commentary to the NIST Recommendations … highlighting some of the radical implications, and some of the limitations, of these Recommendations … in the hope of initiating a much-needed and long overdue international discussion on the subject.
” Architecture is the language of a culture.”
” A living building is the information space where life can be found. Life exists within the space. The information of space is then the information of life. Space is the body of the building. The building is therefore the space, the information, and the life.”
C.Y. Lee & Partners Architects/Planners, Taiwan
[ This is a local dialect of familiar Architectural Language. However, the new multi-aspect language of Sustainable Design is fast evolving. In order to perform as an effective and creative member of a Trans-Disciplinary Design & Construction Team … can Fire Engineers quickly learn to communicate on these wavelengths ?? Evidence to date suggests not ! ]
Not only is Sustainable Fire Engineering inevitable … it must be ! And not at some distant point in the future … but now … yesterday !! There is such a build-up of pressure on Spatial Planners and Building Designers to respond quickly, creatively, intuitively and appropriately to the relentless driving forces of Climate Change (including climate change mitigation, adaptation, and severe weather resilience) and Energy Stability (including energy efficiency and conservation) … that there is no other option for the International Fire Science and Engineering Community but to adapt. Adapt and evolve … or become irrelevant !!
And one more interesting thought to digest … ‘Green’ is not the answer. ‘Green’ looks at only one aspect of Sustainable Human & Social Development … the Environment. This is a blinkered, short-sighted, simplistic and ill-conceived approach to realizing the complex goal of a Safe and Sustainable Built Environment. ‘Green’ is ‘Sustainability’ for innocent children !!
(a)Organization for Economic Co-Operation & Development (OECD) – 2012’s Environmental Outlook to 2050
Extract from Pre-Release Climate Change Chapter, November 2011 …
‘ Climate change presents a global systemic risk to society. It threatens the basic elements of life for all people: access to water, food production, health, use of land, and physical and natural capital. Inadequate attention to climate change could have significant social consequences for human wellbeing, hamper economic growth and heighten the risk of abrupt and large-scale changes to our climatic and ecological systems. The significant economic damage could equate to a permanent loss in average per capita world consumption of more than 14% (Stern, 2006). Some poor countries would be likely to suffer particularly severely. This chapter demonstrates how avoiding these economic, social and environmental costs will require effective policies to shift economies onto low-carbon and climate-resilient growth paths.’
(b)U.N. World Meteorological Organization (WMO) Greenhouse Gas Bulletin No.7, November 2011
Executive Summary …
The latest analysis of observations from the WMO Global Atmosphere Watch (GAW) Programme shows that the globally averaged mixing ratios of Carbon Dioxide (CO2), Methane (CH4) and Nitrous Oxide (N2O) reached new highs in 2010, with CO2 at 389.0 parts per million (ppm), CH4 at 1808 parts per billion (ppb) and N2O at 323.2 ppb. These values are greater than those in pre-industrial times (before 1750) by 39%, 158% and 20%, respectively. Atmospheric increases of CO2 and N2O from 2009 to 2010 are consistent with recent years, but they are higher than both those observed from 2008 to 2009 and those averaged over the past 10 years. Atmospheric CH4 continues to increase, consistent with the past three years. The U.S. National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Annual Greenhouse Gas Index shows that from 1990 to 2010 radiative forcing by long-lived Greenhouse Gases (GHG’s) increased by 29%, with CO2 accounting for nearly 80% of this increase. Radiative forcing of N2O exceeded that of CFC-12, making N2O the third most important long-lived Greenhouse Gas.
(c)International Energy Agency (IEA) – World Energy Outlook, November 2011
Extract from Executive Summary …
‘ There are few signs that the urgently needed change in direction in global energy trends is underway. Although the recovery in the world economy since 2009 has been uneven, and future economic prospects remain uncertain, global primary energy demand rebounded by a remarkable 5% in 2010, pushing CO2 emissions to a new high. Subsidies that encourage wasteful consumption of fossil fuels jumped to over $400 billion. The number of people without access to electricity remained unacceptably high at 1.3 Billion, around 20% of the world’s population. Despite the priority in many countries to increase energy efficiency, global energy intensity worsened for the second straight year. Against this unpromising background, events such as those at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant and the turmoil in parts of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) have cast doubts on the reliability of energy supply, while concerns about sovereign financial integrity have shifted the focus of government attention away from energy policy and limited their means of policy intervention, boding ill for agreed global climate change objectives.’
[ Not just in the case of Tall, Super-Tall and Mega-Tall Buildings … but the many, many Other Building Types in the Built Environment … are Building Designers implementing the 2005 & 2008 NIST WTC Recommendations … without waiting for Building and Fire Codes/Regulations and Standards to be properly revised and updated ?? Evidence to date suggests not ! ]
3.Separate Dilemmas for Client Organizations and Building Designers …
As discussed earlier in this Series … the Fire Safety Objectives of Building and Fire Codes/Regulations are limited to:
The protection of building users/occupants ; and
The protection of property … BUT only insofar as that is relevant to the protection of the users/occupants ;
… because the function of Building and Fire Codes is to protect Society. Well, that is supposed to be true ! Unfortunately, not all Codes/Regulations are adequate or up-to-date … as we have been observing here in these posts.
Just taking the Taipei 101 Tower as an example, I have very recently sent out three genuine, bona fide e-mail messages from our practice …
Toshiba Elevator & Building Systems Corporation (TELC), Japan.
To Whom It May Concern …
Knowing that your organization was involved in the Taipei 101 Project … we have been examining your WebSite very carefully. However, some important information was missing from there.
For our International Work … we would like to receive technical information on the Use of Elevators for Fire Evacuation in Buildings … which we understand is actually happening in the Taipei Tower, since it was completed in 2004.
The Universal Design approach must also be integrated into any New Elevators.
Can you help us ?
[2012-01-10 … No reply yet !]
Mr. Thomas Z. Scarangello P.E. – Chairman & CEO, Thornton Tomasetti Structural Engineers, New York.
Knowing that your organization was involved in the structural design of the Taipei 101 Tower, which was completed in 2004 … and in the on-going design of many other iconic tall, super-tall and mega-tall buildings around the world … we have been examining your Company Brochures and WebSite very carefully. However, some essential information is missing.
As you are certainly aware … implementation of the 2005 & 2008 National Institute of Standards & Technology (NIST) Recommendations on the Collapse of WTC Buildings 1, 2 & 7, in New York, on 11 September 2001 … is still proceeding at a snail’s pace, i.e. very slowly. Today, many significant aspects of NIST’s Recommendations remain unimplemented.
For our International Work … we would like to understand how you have responded directly to the NIST Recommendations … and incorporated the necessary additional modifications into your current structural fire engineering designs.
Many thanks for your kind attention. In anticipation of your prompt and detailed response …
[2012-01-10 … No reply yet !]
Mr. C.Y. Lee & Mr. C.P. Wang, Principal Architects – C.Y. Lee & Partners Architects/Planners, Taiwan.
Knowing that your architectural practice designed the Taipei 101 Tower, which was completed in 2004 … and, later, was also involved in the design of other tall and super-tall buildings in Taiwan and China … we have been examining your Company WebSite very carefully. However, some essential information is missing.
As you are probably aware … implementation of the 2005 & 2008 U.S. National Institute of Standards & Technology (NIST) Recommendations on the Collapse of WTC Buildings 1, 2 & 7, in New York City, on 11 September 2001 … is still proceeding at a snail’s pace, i.e. very slowly. Today, many significant aspects of NIST’s Recommendations remain unimplemented.
For our International Work … we would like to understand how you have responded directly to the NIST Recommendations … and incorporated the necessary additional modifications into your current architectural designs.
Many thanks for your kind attention. In anticipation of your prompt and detailed response …
[2012-01-10 … No reply yet !]
So … how many Clients, or Client Organizations, are aware that to properly protect their interests … even, a significant part of their interests … it is vitally necessary that Project-Specific Fire Engineering Design Objectives be developed which will have a much wider scope ? The answer is … not many !
How many Architects, Structural Engineers, and Fire Engineers fully explain this to their Clients or Client Organizations ?
And how many Clients/Client Organizations either know that they should ask, or have the balls to ask … their Architect, Structural Engineer and Fire Engineer for this explanation … and furthermore, in the case of any High-Rise Building, Iconic Building, or Building having an Important Function or an Innovative Design … ask the same individuals for some solid reassurance that they have responded directly to the 2005 & 2008 NIST WTC Recommendations … and incorporated the necessary additional modifications into your current designs … whatever current Building and Fire Codes/Regulations do or do not say ?? A big dilemma !
A common and very risky dilemma for Building Designers, however, arises in the situation where the Project Developer, i.e. the Client/Client Organization … is the same as the Construction Organization. The Project Design & Construction Team – as a whole – now has very little power or authority if a conflict arises over technical aspects of the design … or over construction costs. An even bigger dilemma !!
4.The Next Series of Posts – 2008 NIST WTC Recommendations
In the new year of 2012 … I will examine the later NIST Recommendations which were a response to the Fire-Induced Progressive Collapse of World Trade Center Building No.7.
5.Please … Your Comments, Views & Opinions ?!?
The future of Conventional Fire Engineering ended on the morning of Tuesday, 11 September 2001, in New York City … an engineering discipline constrained by a long heritage deeply embedded in, and manacled to, an outdated and inflexible prescriptive approach to Codes/Regulations and Standards … an approach which is irrational, ignores the ‘real’ needs of the ‘real’ people who use and/or occupy ‘real’ buildings … and, quite frankly, no longer makes any scientific sense !!
On the other hand … having confronted the harsh realities of 9/11 and the Mumbai ‘Hive’ Attacks, and digested the 2005 & 2008 NIST WTC Recommendations … Sustainable Fire Engineering … having a robust empirical basis, being ‘person-centred’, and positively promoting creativity … offers the International Fire Science and Engineering Community a confident journey forward into the future … on many diverse routes !
This IS the only appropriate response to the exciting architectural innovations and fire safety challenges of today’s Built Environment.
2011-04-29: A Meeting of CIB Working Commission 14: ‘Fire Safety’ took place at the Headquarters of Groupe AFNOR … Association Française de NORmalisation … which is located just outside the centre of Paris, France … on Monday, 11 April 2011.
These meetings are typically, though not always, co-ordinated with a long series of ISO Technical Committee 92: ‘Fire Safety’ Meetings at the same venue. Both technical bodies have a very good working relationship, and there is a strong interchange of membership between the two. The recent revision to the description and scope of CIB W14 will be of enormous benefit to all.
Some Matters of Interest at the CIB W14: ‘Fire Safety’ Meeting – Presentations & Discussions about Two of the Current Pre-Normative Innovation & Research Projects …
1.CIB W14 Working Group IV: ‘Structural Reliability & Fire-Induced Progressive Collapse’
See the Dedicated Page on this Technical Web Log (Tech-BLOG) Site … https://cjwalsh.ie/progressive-collapse-fire/ … for the latest update on the Research Project … which has proposed the following, as a Rational Route Forward …
A.Mainstream the Language, Practices, Procedures and Design Methodologies of Fire Science & Engineering … so that other design disciplines can appreciate that Ethical Fire Science & Engineering also has a sound, modern, rational and empirical basis. [Task for CIB W14]
B. Raise awareness about the primacy, and encourage the wide acceptance, of Fire Serviceability Limit States in Structural Fire Engineering … and the universal requirement that buildings must resist Fire-Induced Progressive Collapse and, in addition, also resist Disproportionate Damage. [Task for CIB W14 Working Group IV]
C. Indicate the need for, and foster the development of, innovative Structural Thermal Insulation Fire Protection Systems which are durable, can resist mechanical damage in ambient and fire conditions, and can be properly shown to be ‘fit for their intended life-cycle use’. [Task for the Fire Industry]
D. In steel construction … depending on its location in a building and having designed sufficiently robust connections for fire conditions … show why, where and how Thermal Insulation must now be used to maintain a Lower Temperature in the Steel … in order to ensure that its deformations (+/- deflection, expansion and distortion, etc.) remain within design parameters … both during the fire and, for a minimum period afterwards, during the ‘cooling phase’. [Task for CIB W14 Working Group IV]
E. Encourage the development of Fire Engineering Design Guidelines for new and existing buildings, along with the Decision Support Tools needed for their use in practice … to support #2 and #4 above. And propose how Existing Code/Regulation Provisions and Standards should be suitably updated and revised. [Task for the International Fire Science & Engineering Community]
During the discussion which followed my presentation, and having reviewed progress … it was generally felt that the time was now ripe to prepare a Discussion Document for Comment. This will be circulated about a month before the next meeting of CIB W14 … to be held in October 2011.
2.CIB W14 Working Group 5: ‘Fire Incident Human Behaviour & Abilities’
The photograph above was actually taken during the presentation of this Research Project … at the time being given by Project Leader, Douglas Hillhouse, Organizer of the Fire Risk Engineering Programme at Glasgow Caledonian University, in Scotland.
Prior to the Paris Meeting, Douglas had circulated a Project Discussion Document for Comment … which was focused mainly on people with disabilities. The Co-Ordinator of CIB W14, Prof. Dr. George Hadjisophocleous, was pleased to see this Research Project develop and gather momentum.
During the discussion which followed the Presentation, I made the following points …
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) was adopted on 13 December 2006; it came into force, i.e. became an International Legal Instrument, on 3 May 2008; and it was ratified by a European Union (E.U.) having, for the first time after the Lisbon Treaty, its own separate legal personality … on 23 December 2010.
In February 2011 … the 2010 European Foundation Centre (EFC) Report: ‘Study on Challenges and Good Practices in the Implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities’, was approved for publication by the European Commission. Under a duty of loyal co-operation, which derives from Article 4.3 of the Treaty on European Union (TEU), each E.U. Member State is now obliged to properly implement the critical accessibility-related provisions of the UN CRPD, i.e. Preamble (g) and Articles 4.3, 9, 10, 11, with 31 & 33.
The Final Draft of International Standard … ISO FDIS 21542: ‘Building Construction – Accessibility & Usability of the Built Environment’ … was registered with ISO Central Secretariat on 17 March 2011. In spite of the technically flawed submission from ISO Technical Committee 92 to ISO Technical Committee 59, which is responsible for the production of ISO 21542 … we had successfully managed to retain a substantive, and meaningful, body of text relating to Fire Safety for People with Activity Limitations.
Our concern, throughout this CIB W14 Research Project, would be Fire Safety for All … including people with a wide range of behavioural responses and physical/mental/cognitive/psychological abilities during a fire incident … including people with activity limitations, not just people with disabilities … and firefighters. The user profile in a ‘real’ building must be viewed as a continuum.
In attempting to provide better Fire Engineering Design Solutions for people with cognitive impairments, I had realized … many years ago … that the field of Cognitive Psychology offered huge potential for a paradigm shift in Fire Engineering Research. This potential will be identified in the Project.
Amongst the International Fire Science and Engineering Community, there is widespread ignorance about Panic and Panic Attacks … this may help to explain the irrational fear about dealing with this important issue … a fear which the WG 5 Project will confront !
Of Unrelated Interest ?
During visits to Paris, I regularly ‘pop-in’ to Père Lachaise Cemetery … in the east of the city. Access is very convenient … the Père Lachaise Métro Station being directly served by Lines 2 & 3. Here are the last resting places (?) of Some Interesting Personalities …