Codes & Standards

Structural Collapse: The Hidden Dangers of Residential Fires

Issue 10 and Volume 162.

By James M. Dalton, Robert G. Backstrom, and Steve Kerber   Educational Objectives    On completion of this course, students will:   1 Gain an understanding of the behavioral differences between solid wood joist and lightweight wood structural members under fire attack. 2 Gain an understanding of the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) E119 test used to establish structural fire resistance, with modified loading conditions. 3 Gain knowledge concerning the collapse times of various floor and roof assemblies in tests recently conducted by Underwriters Laboratories (UL). 4 Gain an understanding of the benefits of 1⁄2-inch gypsum board applied to the underside of an assembly, delaying collapse. Between 1997 and 2008, 26 firefighters lost their lives in residential building collapses. The ensuing National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) investigations highlighted the impact of rapid fire spread through areas of unprotected wood construction, the collapse of unprotected dimensional…

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