Composite steel-framed structures in fire with protected and unprotected edge beams

S. Lamont, M. Gillie, Asif Sohail Usmani

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


The structural behaviour of a steel-concrete composite frame subject to a natural fire is analysed using a numerical model. The behaviour is compared when fire protection is applied to only the external beams and when no beams are fire protected. The behaviour of the structure in the two cases is significantly different. When the edge beams are protected the floor slab tends to span in 2 directions because the edge beams provide sufficient support around the perimeter of the floor for tensile membrane action to develop. When the edge beams are unprotected the slab tends to span in only one direction in a manner similar to a beam in catenary action. Catenary action is a weaker load carrying mechanism than tensile membrane action. As a consequence of the weaker mechanism, when the edge beams are unprotected, the columns displace inwards towards the end of the fire indicating the possibility of imminent runaway collapse. The pattern of mechanical strains in the floor slab reinforcement depends on the load carrying mechanism and therefore on whether edge beam protection is included. Although the average mechanical tensile strains are higher when the edge beams are protected the highest strains occur when the beams are unprotected. Conversely, an instability in the primary beam occurs at much lower temperatures when the edge beams are protected. It is concluded that fire protecting the edge beams of the structural layout studied has a number of effects on the fire resistance of the structure, some beneficial, some detrimental, however, in general, fire protecting the edge beams provides an increased level of fire resistance. © 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1138-1150
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Constructional Steel Research
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Composite construction
  • Fire protection
  • Natural fires
  • Steel frames
  • Structural behaviour in fire

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Building and Construction
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Metals and Alloys

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