Manual of Evaluation Procedures for Passive Fire Prevention Following Earthquakes.
Manual of Evaluation Procedures for Passive Fire
Prevention Following Earthquakes.
Williamson, R. B.
NIST GCR 99-768; 25 p. June 1999.
Sponsor:National Institute of Standards and Technology,
Available from: National Technical Information Service
(NTIS), Technology Administration, U.S. Department of
Commerce, Springfield, VA 22161.
1-800-553-6847 or 703-605-6000;
Order number: PB99-150492
earthquakes; manuals; fire prevention; evaluation; fire
protection; inspection; safety
When an earthquake occurs, a well defined approach now
exists for the rapid inspection of structural damage.
Some of the best sources of information are contained in
the Applied Technology Council's series of publications:
1. ATC-20 - Procedures for Postearthquake Safety
Evaluation of Buildings -- This provides guidelines for
the assessment of structural safety of building types
commonly found in the United States. 2. ATC-20-1 - Field
Manual: Postearthquake Safefy Evaluation of Buildings --
This field manual was developed within the ATC-20
framework. It is intended to be taken into damaged areas
and used by "structural engineers and building
inspectors" who are "required to make on-the-spot
evaluations and decisions regarding continued use and
occupancy of damaged buildings." 3. ATC-20-2 -- Addendum
to the ATC-20 Postearthquake Building Safety Evaluation
Procedures -- The first topic listed as a concern is
the "training and qualifications of the volunteers".
This is consistent with the idea that some of the
thinking behind ATC-20 had changed. The original concept
that non-specialists would undertake the initial
inspections was now thought to maybe not be the best
approach. Another feature of ATC-20-2 is the
introduction of a new set of inspection forms with
changes to the red and yellow categories. The last of
these documents was published after the January 17, 1994
Northridge, California earthquake, but all the lessons
learned from that earthquake were not incorporated into
ATC-20-2. In this report extensive use is made of the
ideas and approach of all the ATC-20 series of
publications, but when there are differences among these
documents, the ATC-20-2 report is being used. This
report originated with a research project that has
focused on the postearthquake safety evaluation of the
passive fire prevention features of buildings.
Coordination with the structural inspection process is
an important component of how the results of this
research will be put into practice. In large buildings
such as hospitals, jails, nursing homes, and apartment
buildings, (with, or without automatic sprinklers) the
accepted means of controlling fire damage is by the
application of water by the fire department. In general,
sufficient fire resistance is built into these
structures to give one or two hours of fire containment
to allow the fire fighters enough time to stop the fire.
In many instances in the initial postearthquake time
period, however, there is little or no water obtainable,
and few fire fighters are available to extinguish the
fires in such large structures. Passive fire protection
needs to be evaluated for its ability to contain a fire
with limited fire fighting capability. Consideration
should also be given to the concept that certain
occupancies may not be safe in some structures while
these same structures could be safely used for other
occupancies. For instance, a hospital may be a safe
housing shelter for able-bodied people, whereas it might
not be safe for its intended occupants. As time passes
and the fire fighting capabilities of the local fire
service are reinforced and strengthened, these buildings
may then once again become safe for their original
occupants. Another important area of study is the
exterior passive fire protection. The envelope of a
structure can be more vulnerable to a fire if the
building has been "pounded" by impact with adjacent
structures. In hilly areas, the pounding of buildings
often means that the floor level of one structure can
impact the mid-height of another and thus cause more
damage than would be the case if the structures were on
level ground. In urban areas, the lack of exterior fire
resistance of adjacent structures may require that the
occupancy of some buildings be restricted until the
damaged buildings are torn down since if they were to
burn, the fire could spread to the adjoining buildings.
It may not be possible to check the effects of
"pounding" between structures to determine if the
passive fire protection features of the exterior walls
has been compromised during the earthquake.