Steel beam fire protection systems feel the heat from new BRE test rig

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BRE has installed a new rig that tests the fire protection systems used on the steel frame beams which play a critical role in maintaining the load bearing capacity of multi-storey buildings in the event of a fire. This comes in response to the rising popularity of multi-storey steel frame ‘towers’ in global cities and towns, changes in standards and higher quality and strength of steels being applied.

Aimed at manufacturers of fire protection systems such as intumescent paints, epoxy coatings, cementitious coatings, board products and ceramic blanket coverings, the new rig can apply loads of up to 1000kN on a protected steel beam under fire testing conditions.

steel-beam-test-rigThis more than doubles the capacity of BRE’s previous test rig and together with the BRE loaded column furnace (capacity of 4900kN), delivers a unique fire resistance testing facility in the UK. It also provides the fire protection industry with the test facilities they require for European and world markets.

Debbie Smith, BRE’s Director of Fire Sciences and Building Products said ‘As land becomes scarcer in urban environments around the world, developers are building upwards with steel frame systems to minimise the footprint of the building.  The beams and columns that make up the frame are getting bigger and are taking more structural load. It’s crucial that the right level of fire protection is applied so that in the case of fire, the structure continues to carry the load for the period of time necessary to allow the building occupants to exit the building and the fire authorities to start fighting the fire’.

For more information please contact Linda McKeown, BRE, email


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