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Torre Windsor fire

The question

The Windsor building in Madrid was destroyed by a fire which burned for 17 hours. How do you think the structure performed?

The Windsor Tower in Madrid performed well, in that it did not collapse despite the duration of the fire. However, as the building was, as I understand, unoccupied at the time of the fire, its overall performance (eg ensuring safe escape routes and suffi cient escape time for occupants) can only be assumed. What does raise questions is the fact that the fire occurred at all, and that it was apparently able to spread unhindered so rapidly, leading to the conclusion that fire protection of internal materials or detailing were sub-standard.

Mike Paul, 52, senior engineer, Stuttgart, Germany If the building had a sprinkler system, the fire would have been extinguished within minutes, instead of 17 hours, and would have saved a tremendous amount of money.

Apparently, because the tower was 3m short of the magic 100m 'sprinklers were deemed unnecessary'. A short-sighted decision if ever there was one! It is about time clients and specifiers realised that a sprinkler system is not just some extra that is cut out of the project at an early stage to save money, but an essential part of the building - just as vital as the foundations.

Daniel Munday, 45, Chartered Surveyor, Bucks To put it simply, the top parts performed badly and the lower parts performed well. Surely the total gutting of upper stories is an unacceptable failure: of fire warning, protection and response. However, the residual structural support of the lower frame is to be commended.

Both present the opportunity to learn engineering and operational lessons.

Dudley Swain, 57, performance manager, Exeter Clearly the building performed badly as it failed to withstand fire. Had it been occupied when fire broke out, loss of life would probably have occurred. And to think that we all mocked Towering Inferno.

Peter Borrows, 62, Thames Estuary strategy manager, London I think the building stood up pretty well. Giving the occupants 17 hours to evacuate is not bad, but I am more critical of the fire protection system that did not contain the fire within a reasonable period.

John D Brownlie, 56, project director, Shrewsbury Better to stand, than to collapse as happened to the Twin Towers in America. I hope we will find out soon what modifications to the design and construction might have preserved it well enough to avoid demolition. Perhaps it could be demolished to below the fire zone and left as a stump?

Michael Dommett, 47, civil engineer, London Thank goodness the fire occurred when the building was empty. Hopefully the Spanish authorities will learn serious lessons from this incident and it will help to raise standards.

Charles Brewerton, project engineer, Brighton It seems that the tower, under failure-inducing circumstances, attained its primary objective, which was to preserve life. I'm not surprised that, after burning for 17 hours, it has to be demolished. No doubt more lessons will be learned, from all sorts of different points of view.

Luc Koefman, 34, Windfarm engineer, Avignon, France

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