In most types of buildings, it is necessary to ensure that the core structure will remain in place for a reasonable period during a fire. This is to protect both the occupants during evacuation and to minimise the risk to any firefighters in their attempts to gain control and extinguish the fire.
Structural fire engineering is a technique used by IFC Engineers where the actual fire severity can be accurately predicted for key locations within the building and precise calculations carried out on the impact the fire has on each element of structure.
Actionable advice on structural fire engineering can be used to identify and plan the best and most effective solutions for the building, often resulting in significant reductions in the amount of fire protection that is required and major cost savings.
Different structural materials invariably provide differing reactions and resilience to heat and the effects of fire. For example reinforced concrete, inherently achieves a greater resistance to fire (although for longer fire duration, increases in reinforcement cover may be required), than steel. To improve resistance to fire materials can be protected by insulation to prevent them reaching the point where it fails and results in the structure collapsing.
However, methods of protection (such as insulation) can be expensive and have an undue impact on the aesthetics and intended look and feel of a building.