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Steel Structure Design Is 'Crucial'

STEEL STRUCTURE DESIGN IS 'CRUCIAL'

The issues of structural steel in modern complex designs are crucial in enabling protection of buildings for their occupants, a meeting of fire engineering experts was told.

An event in London, organised by leading coatings manufacturer Sherwin-Williams, focused on the issue of responsibility for fire engineering safety in the supply chain from the architect to the installing contractor.

Gareth Steele, representing the Fire Engineering Group of London Fire Brigade, said the issues of structural steel are crucial in enabling protection of buildings for their occupants.

Bob Glendenning, Manager, Fire Engineering, Sherwin-Williams Protective & Marine Coatings, told the delegates there were three main key issues arising.

He told the group at the headquarters of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE): “With regards to the design element of the fire protection, there is unsafe design due to ignorance, there is unsafe design due to bad practice such as assuming utilisation and web stability of cellular beams, and there is unsafe design by design.

"By that I mean the kind of design which explicitly excludes adherence to the existing guidance because of time, cost or due to the design being purely ambient."

Paul Bussey, representing the Regulations and Standards Group of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), said: "From an architect’s standpoint, you would not know what level of protection is relevant unless a building is purpose-built. It is a matter of risk, and most buildings don’t catch fire.

"There is a disconnect between the designers and the contractors and the fire engineering protection is now so complex that even architects struggle to find their way through guidance."

Danny Hopkin, Chair of the Institute of Fire Engineers Fire Resistance Special Interest Group, said that many owners or managers of buildings don’t know their statutory requirements to help prevent fire, and guidance for fire protection is largely 50 years old.

Jim Glockling, Technical Director of the Fire Protection Association said he thought that architects, designers and estimators from the top down should all be further informed about developments in design and fire protection.

He said the issue of fire protection only becomes tangible at the end of the risk process, and he wondered whether there may be a solution to include fire protection through Building Information Modelling (BIM). Bob Glendenning pointed out that Sherwin-Williams has already been doing this for several years

It was agreed that steps should be taken to raise awareness of the issues at relevant levels of design and installation, from architects through to estimators including building control officers, and to feed into the work currently being undertaken by the Institute of Fire Engineers (IFE) on Building Regulations.

Other actions were to look at the model adopted in Ireland which has tightened Building Control sign-off, and to consider a third party scheme to regulate the design process.

The delegates at the event were: Bob Glendenning, Manager, Fire Engineering, Sherwin-Williams Protective & Marine Coatings; Prof Ed Galea, University of Greenwich Fire Engineering Group; Paul Bussey, Regulations and Standards Group, RIBA; Jim Glockling, Technical Director, Fire Protection Association; Gareth Steele, Fire Engineering Group, London Fire Brigade; Danny Hopkin, Chair of the Institute of Fire Engineers Fire Resistance Special Interest Group; Niall Rowan, Technical Officer, Association of Specialist Fire Protection.

Notes to editors

Sherwin-Williams Protective & Marine Coatings.

The Sherwin-Williams Company was founded in 1866 in Cleveland, Ohio by Henry Sherwin and Edward Williams. Today, the company is a global leader in the development, manufacture and sale of coatings and industrial related products with approximately 41,000 employees and business in 115 countries. With annual sales of more than $11.1 billion, Sherwin-Williams is the third largest coatings company in the world and the largest coatings manufacturer in the United States. (NYSE: SHW).

In 2011, Sherwin-Williams acquired Leighs Paints, based in Bolton, UK. The company now trades as Sherwin-Williams Protective & Marine Coatings and has sales and technical support centres in Germany and UAE. Whether providing passive fire protection from the world class FIRETEX® range, or high performance anti-corrosive coatings solutions, Sherwin-Williams is committed to developing and delivering innovative protective and marine coatings, unparalleled service and expert specification support to its customers.

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