Designing Against Fire


  • I. D. Bennetts Noel Arnold and Associates, Melbourne
  • I. R. Thomas Victoria University image/svg+xml



This paper considers the design of buildings for fire safety. It is found that fire and the associated effects on buildings is significantly different to other forms of loading such as gravity live loads, wind and earthquakes and their respective effects on the building structure. Fire events are derived from the human activities within buildings or from the malfunction of mechanical and electrical equipment provided within buildings to achieve a serviceable environment. It is therefore possible to directly influence the rate of fire
starts within buildings by changing human behaviour, improved maintenance and improved design of mechanical and electrical systems. Furthermore, should a fire develops, it is possible to directly influence the resulting fire severity by the incorporation of fire safety systems such as sprinklers and to provide measures within the building to enable safer egress from the building. The ability to influence the rate of fire starts and the resulting fire severity is unique to the consideration of fire within buildings since other loads such as wind and earthquakes are directly a function of nature. The possible approaches for designing a building for fire safety are presented using an example of a multi-storey building constructed over a railway line. The design of both the transfer structure supporting the building over the railway and the levels above the transfer structure are considered in the context of current regulatory requirements. The principles and assumptions associated with various approaches are discussed.


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How to Cite

I. D. Bennetts and I. R. Thomas (2007) “Designing Against Fire”, Electronic Journal of Structural Engineering, (1), pp. 9–21. doi: 10.56748/ejse.621.