The fire resistance of masonry has traditionally been determined by subjecting a 3m x 3m wall to a 'standard fire', or heating curve, and noting its response. The results from such tests form the basis of the tabular data in BS 5628:3 and BS EN 1996:1:2, which specify the minimum thicknesses of masonry walls for different periods of fire resistance, i.e. 30, 60, 90 or 120 minutes, according to their type and function, i.e. loadbearing, non-loadbearing, separating and the criteria being considered, i.e. R (stability), E (integrity), and I (thermal insulation).
This project has been concerned with developing thermal and structural models to predict the behaviour of masonry walls in fire. This 'performance-based' approach to fire resistance should enable the fire resistance of loadbearing masonry walls to be predicted without the need for fire tests and should lead to savings in both development costs and the time taken to introduce new masonry products and walling configurations to the market generally.
The project has been funded by the UK Brick Development Association Ltd and the EPSRC.