Fire and the Compartmentation of Buildings
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No building is free from the threat of fire. A designer, however, can ensure that only limited damage will result if fire breaks out by reducing the over-all fire risk. There are various means at his disposal, but the single design feature that will contribute most to this reduction of risk is his use of fire-resistant construction to separate a building into fire-resistant compartments. Fire-resistant construction may be described as construction that continues to fulfil its function during the course of a fire, and where walls, Boors and partitions are involved prevents the transmission of fire beyond these boundaries. It must not be confused with non-combustible construction, which may or may not have the requisite degree of fire resistance in a given set or Circumstances. It is, however, frequently necessary to resort to largely non-combustible construction in order to achieve substantial fire endurance (i.e. a long fire resistance time). The fire resistance or fire endurance of a structural element is universally defined in terms of the length of time it will meet certain requirements when e,(posed in a test furnace that follows a specified time-temperature curve. For a particular building the fire endurance requirements are in turn related to the fire load within it.