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BRE installs new rig to test steel beam fire protection systems

25 January 2016

BRE has installed a new rig that tests the fire protection systems used on the steel frame beams that maintain the load bearing capacity of multi-storey buildings in the event of a fire.

This new investment in high load test equipment by BRE (the Building Research Establishment) 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 1,000kN on a protected steel beam under fire testing conditions.

This more than doubles the capacity of BRE’s previous test rig and together with the BRE loaded column furnace (capacity of 4,900kN), 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.

"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," says Debbie Smith, BRE's Director of Fire Sciences and Building Products. 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."

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