Building Construction, Fire Prevention & Protection

Unlike Wine, Fire Tests Don’t Get Better with Age

Issue 04 and Volume 173.

THE PROFESSOR ❘ by GLENN CORBETT Around the turn of the 19th century, the United States was experiencing major urban conflagrations on a regular basis. Financial losses amounted to millions and millions of dollars. It was the loss of 1,500 buildings in the Great Baltimore Fire of 1904 (photo 1), however, that motivated the fire insurance industry to take action. The Great Baltimore Fire of 1904 led to several tangible outcomes. The very first standardized set of building regulations, The National Building Code, was created. The rating of fire departments also eventually came to fruition, today known as the Insurance Services Office Fire Suppression Rating Schedule. Structural fire resistance testing can also point to this fire as the motivating factor to develop a standardized fire test. By World War I, tests were being conducted on columns, floors, and even money safes by government and academia. Some of the tests were…

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