The Hazards of Support Columns

Issue 8 and Volume 160.

BY RONALD MORITZ At a recent incident, a support column exploded after being exposed (partial exposure) to open flame for a few minutes. The column was 10 feet long with an outside diameter of 4.5 inches. The material was 7/32 inch thick. The column was used to hold up a steel girder within a wood structure. The building was approximately 25 years old and in a deteriorated state. It had been abandoned and unheated for several years and was purposely being razed for redevelopment of the land. When exposed to enough heat for a period of time, the column exploded as the result of internal pressure. It did not fail because of the weight it was carrying. If that had been the case, when it got hot enough to weaken the steel, it simply would have softened, bent, and become distorted. This column was set in a corner of the…

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