The influence of travelling fires on a concrete frame

Angus Law, Jamie Stern-Gottfried, Martin Gillie, Guillermo Rein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


When building fires occur in large, open compartments they rarely burn uniformly across an entire floor plate of a structure. Instead, they tend to travel, igniting fuel in their path and burning it out as they move to the next fuel package. Current structural fire design methods do not account for these types of fires. This paper applies a novel methodology for defining a family of possible heating regimes to a framed concrete structure using the concept of travelling fires. A finite-element model of a generic concrete structure is used to study the impact of the family of fires; both relative to one another and in comparison to the conventional codified temperature-time curves. It is found that travelling fires have a significant impact on the performance of the structure and that the current design approaches cannot be assumed to be conservative. Further, it is found that a travelling fire of approximately 25% of the floor plate in size is the most severe in terms of structural response. It is concluded that the new approach is simple to implement, provides more realistic fire scenarios, and is more conservative than current design methods. (C) 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1635-1642
Number of pages8
JournalEngineering Structures
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 2011


  • Travelling fires
  • Concrete structure
  • Design fire
  • Finite element
  • Temperature distribution


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