Avoiding Disproportionate Collapse

Single Abstract

343616 - Disproportional collapse of buildings due to moving fires

Friday, April 20
11:00 AM - 12:30 PM
Location: 202CD

Typical extreme loading events (wind, earthquake) design for increasing loads on a building while the strength and stiffness of the structural components remain constant. However, during a fire, the gravity loading on a building will remain constant as the strength and stiffness of the structural components decreases. In addition to this, there could be compartment, full story, or moving fires. Meaning that not all structural members will experience a decrease in strength and stiffness, rather only certain portions of the building. The remainder of the building components must be designed to resist imposed forces due to thermal expansion in the areas of the fire. Therefore, structural fire engineering entails evaluating a building for multiple fire scenarios to determine the worst-case loading condition.
One of these scenarios are moving fires. Moving fires have many different attributes including: duration (time), path (horizontally and vertically), intensity, and growth. The authors have performed advanced analyses on a ten-story office building with perimeter moment-resisting frames. This analyses varied each parameter for a moving fire. The goal of this work was to quantify the influence of each parameter to the progressive collapse of steel-frame buildings.

There is currently limited research on moving fires that quantifies the effect on a building. The authors have previously performed advanced analysis on the same prototype building for full-story and compartment fires. The results of the moving fire analyses will be compared to these previous analyses with the aim of providing guidance to practicing engineers using this method of evaluation.

The target audience for this presentation include practicing structural engineers, university professors, and researchers for national labs. This presentation is of international interest. The audience can be expected to take away:
• Understanding of various parameters that influence a moving fire
• How these parameters affect the progressive collapse of a steel-frame building
• What are the critical factors that influence progressive collapse of a steel-frame building due to a moving fire
• What areas of research need further investigation for the structural engineering community to fully understand the impact of moving fires on our buildings
• How can engineers design steel-frame buildings to be more robust, sustainable, and resilient in moving fires

Erica C. Fischer

Assistant Professor
Oregon State University

Erica Fischer, PhD, PE is an Assistant Professor of Civil and Construction Engineering at Oregon State University. Dr. Fischer’s research interests revolve around innovative approaches to improve the resilience and robustness of structural systems affected by natural and man-made hazards. She has participated in post-earthquake reconnaissance team missions in diverse regions including Haiti, Napa, California, Italy, and, most recently, Mexico City. Dr. Fischer performs research on a variety of different structural systems including steel, timber (CLT), composites (concrete-CLT and steel-concrete), and thin shells subjected to hazards such as earthquakes and fires. She is one of the founders and co-chairs of the EERI Virtual Earthquake Reconnaissance Team (VERT), and an active member of the EERI Younger Members Committee, the ASCE/SEI Sustainability Committee, Fire Protection Committee, and Composite Construction Committee. Dr. Fischer has experience as a practicing structural engineer and holds a Professional Engineering license in the states of Washington and California.


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Amit H. Varma

Professor of Civil Engineering
Purdue University

Prof. Amit H. Varma is a Professor in Purdue University, Lyles School of Civil Engineering, and Director of the Robert L. and Terry L. Bowen Laboratory of Large-Scale Civil Engineering Research. He was a University Faculty Scholar from 2011 - 2016. He is a member of the AISC Committee of Specifications, and the Chair of Task Committee 8 on Fire Design. He was the chair of the SEI/ACI Committee of Composite Construction from 2010-17. He is a member of ACI Committee 349. Dr. Varma’s primary area of expertise is steel-concrete composite construction.


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343616 - Disproportional collapse of buildings due to moving fires

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