Temperature distribution in a full-scale steel framed building subject to a natural fire

  • Wald, Frantisek (Department of Steel and Timber Structures, CTU Prague, Faculty of Civil Engineering) ;
  • Chladna, Magdalena (Department of Civil Engineering, Technical University) ;
  • Moore, David (BCSA-British Constructional Steelwork Association) ;
  • Santiago, Aldina (Department of Civil Engineering, University of Coimbra) ;
  • Lennon, Tom (Building Research Establishment)
  • Received : 2004.11.23
  • Accepted : 2005.09.15
  • Published : 2006.04.25


Current fire design codes for determining the temperature within the structural elements that form part of a complete building are based on isolated member tests subjected to the standard fire. However, the standard time-temperature response bears little relation to real fires and doesn't include the effects of differing ventilation conditions or the influence of the thermal properties of compartment linings. The degree to which temperature uniformity is present in real compartments is not addressed and direct flame impingement may also have an influence, which is not considered. It is clear that the complex thermal environmental that occurs within a real building subject to a natural fire can only be addressed using realistic full-scale tests. To study global structural and thermal behaviour, a research project was conducted on the eight storey steel frame building at the Building Research Establishment's Cardington laboratory. The fire compartment was 11 m long by 7 m wide. A fire load of $40kg/m^2$ was applied together with 100% of the permanent actions and variable permanent actions and 56% of live actions. This paper summarises the experimental programme and presents the time-temperature development in the fire compartment and in the main supporting structural elements. Comparisons are also made between the test results and the temperatures predicted by the structural fire Eurocodes.


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