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Arup calls for design code update

Arup is to press the government to change British design codes to incorporate greater understanding of building behaviour in disaster situations.

Its engineers are to discuss the findings of its six month study of issues faced by tall buildings with Department of the Transport, Local Government and the Regions officials later this month. DTLR is currently responsible for building regulations.

Arup’s research was published last week following an examination of issues post 11 September, by its Extreme Events Mitigation Task Force.

‘Guidance in place today is more than 30 years old and does not directly address how structures perform in extreme events, ’ Arup says. ‘Advances in analytical techniques and understanding of inelastic structural behaviour mean it is timely to revisit the guidance for design against progressive collapse.’ Codes should ‘incorporate methods to address the real performance of structures in a fire’.

Arup says current fire tests fail to expose structural elements to high enough temperatures. The American Society of Civils Engineers report into the collapse of the World Trade Center twin towers said that the energy generated by the fire following the aircraft impacts was equivalent to that produced by a small power station (News last week).

Current passive fire protection measures should also be reviewed, says the Arup research. More testing of existing materials is needed to test performance under impact and in hydrocarbon fires.

The report points to ‘considerable doubts that current materials’ would perform satisfactorily.

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