Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

US sprinkler reliance reduces tall building protection

TALL BUILDINGS in the US are designed using increasingly unsafe fire codes, a leading American fire protection expert warned last month.

'Fire resistance in today's tall building codes is only half that of the original Uniform Building Code in 1927, ' said Portland Cement Association regional code services manager, Jim Messersmith.

Since the World Trade Center attacks last year, proposed changes to US international building codes to increase fire protection have been rebuffed.

Messersmith said code changes in states other than New York were unlikely, as the perceived terrorist threat was lower.

Engineers in the US are allowed to reduce fire protection by increasing the amount of sprinkler capacity.

This is known as 'sprinkler trade off'. Over time sprinklers have become mandatory - but sprinkler trade off has remained.

'If sprinklers do not control a fire for any one of many possible reasons, then the building's structural fire protection needs to be the same as a building without sprinklers, ' Messersmith warned.

US international building codes currently being drafted will require any building over 23m to have just two hour rated fire protection for columns and floors.

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions. Please note comments made online may also be published in the print edition of New Civil Engineer. Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.