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Ulster Stages Burning Building Safety Test


Experts from the Institute of Fire Safety Engineering Research Technology (FireSERT) have organised the experiment in a special compartment at a fire glass manufacturer near Castledawson on Saturday. 

Construction professionals from across the world will watch how steel beams used in modern office buildings react in a burning inferno, in the first fire test of its kind, staged by the University of Ulster this week. 

Experts from the Institute of Fire Safety Engineering Research Technology (FireSERT) have organised the experiment in a special compartment at a fire glass manufacturer near Castledawson on Saturday. 

FireSERT’s Professor Ali Nadjai said: “This is the first realistic fire test to be carried out on cellular steel beams anywhere in the world.” 

The test is part of an ongoing 1.6 million Euro project supported by the European Research Fund for Coal and Steel. 

“The growing popularity of the use of cellular steel beams in composite floors comes at the same time as an increasing attention to the fire safety engineering design. Their design regarding fire protection remains very primitive and this is due to the lack of general research in this area,” said Professor Nadjai. 

“These beams have been tested before in furnaces but never in a real life situation where there are windows and other factors that can affect a fire.  

“We have secured them in a large 15m x 9m compartment, which is very similar to part of an office building, so that we can gauge accurately what would happen in a real fire. 

“The aim of this test is to find the best fire protection for cellular beams. Findings from this experiment could help develop uniform European design rules for protected and unprotected beams when subjected to fire.”  

Around 150 delegates are expected to attend the live test on Saturday and a two-day conference at the University’s Jordanstown campus today and tomorrow (Friday). 

The International Fire Safety Workshop will focus on the latest international developments in fire safety.  

“The conference is an excellent opportunity for architects, designers, structural engineers, fire service personnel, building control officers, developers, building contractors, manufacturers and public service representatives to hear about new products and design advances from eminent experts in this field,” said Professor Nadjai. 

“The conference workshops will provide the latest development, strategic and solutions to key fire safety issues which will enable construction professionals to learn more about how to create the safest possible buildings.”           

The University’s Robert Morley, Business Development Manager in the Faculty of Art, Design and the Built Environment, added: “FireSERT’s scientists now have the ability to model fires and that enables them to help construction professionals safely utilise new building methods, products and employ the most economical fire protection and prevention techniques.  

“This knowledge in turn helps to ensure that in the event of a blaze breaking out people are safer, buildings suffer little or no damage and companies commercially survive fires.” 

The fire test, supported by the Fire Authority for Northern Ireland, will take place at premises owned by local company, Direct Fire Glass, 122 Hillhead Road, Castledawson at 1pm. 

For further information log onto www.firesert.ulster.ac.uk/FSIW