Fire resistance of concrete structures

Reinforced concrete can achieve a considerable level of fire resistance inherently even without additional protection. However, in certain situations there can be particular issues that need to be addressed.

One of those is in relation to fitting columns within party walls. Following standard approaches such as the tables in Eurocode 2 can end up with columns that are 350mm wide or more if they need to achieve 2 hours fire resistance. That can cause a problem as it would often be too wide to fit within party walls.

In other situations there can be issues with assessing or improving the fire resistance of existing concrete structures which have been damaged or have deteriorated over time.

There are a number of ways to deal with these issues. The two main approaches would be either:

  • fire engineering analyses; or
  • applying additional fire protection.

Fire engineering analyses can assess the potential impact of a fire on the concrete structure, modelling the rate at which heat flows into the concrete. Using this approach allows much more flexibility in the design approach. For example, it may be possible to improve the fire resistance of the columns by increasing the size of the reinforcement, achieving the fire resistance required even with moderately thin columns. It also allows a variety of other approaches to be adopted, depending on the specific project. 

Applying fire protection such as boarding or intumescent can also be an option. However, it would be essential to ensure that there is evidence (such as from fire tests) to prove how well the protection improves the performance of the concrete structure. In practice, IFC find that some manufacturers have carried out testing on this, but the extent of data is not as large as on other types of fire protection and so it is important to be careful when using this approach. 

IFC are experts in these areas. Our Fire Engineering team include specialists in fire engineering analyses of all areas and our Product team regularly works with manufacturers of a variety of fire resisting products and so are specialists in the methods that are available to upgrade structures.

Our team of experts will be pleased to discuss any of our services with you.

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