Volume 7, Issue 1 (January 2010)
Fire Performance Testing of Building Element Interfaces and Connections
The minimum fire-resistance ratings for vertical and horizontal assemblies and structural members are provided in the prescriptive requirements of the building codes. National and international test methods have been developed to provide a standardized means for evaluating the performance of these building elements. Building elements such as horizontal assemblies (floors), vertical assemblies (walls), and structural members (beams and columns) are generally tested as discrete elements. In an actual building, the walls intersect with the floors and beams and girders are connected to columns. In light of recent high-profile fire events, the fire community has been questioning if these connections and interfaces are being properly tested and evaluated. In an actual building, these building elements are interconnected, and their performance is affected by all elements that comprise the building structure during a real fire event. This paper will review common structural building interface and connection construction features, how they are currently being evaluated, and how their large-scale fire performance evaluations can be conducted. The results of the testing of a simulated wall/floor assembly interface assembly will be presented to highlight one potential means for testing these features along with the limitations mainly due to the available test equipment.