Multi-hazard performance of structures in fire is not new to WPI’s fire protection engineering department. After conducting a series of successful fire tests on a 5-story earthquake-damaged reinforced concrete building in 2012, WPI’s research team conducted another series of fire following earthquake tests, this time on a 6-story light-gauge cold-formed steel framed building. The 63-foot (19.2 m) building was constructed on the Large High Performance Outdoor Shake Table (LHPOST), one of the world’s largest earthquake shaking table. LHPOST is located at Englekirk Structural Engineering Center at the University of California San Diego. The main objective of the project was to study the building, seismic, fire and post-fire seismic performance. The academia-industry-government partnered project is a collaboration between two academic institutions (UC San Diego and Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI)), two government agencies (US Department of Housing and Urban Development and California Seismic Safety Commission) and over fifteen industry partners.

investigating fireThe research team led by Structural Engineering professor Tara Hutchinson, University of California San Diego led the overall test program and their research team’s primary focus was conduct the seismic tests before and after fire tests. WPI’s primary focus was to design and execute the fire tests. A research team led by Fire Protection Engineering professor Brian J. Meacham and managed by FPE post-doctoral fellow, Dr. Praveen Kamath, supported by project assistant Daniel P. Arthur conducted a series of 6 fire tests on two levels of the building to collect the data. The data analysis will further shed light on the effects of fire on the structural system and the extent of fire and smoke spread in the building. WPI’s public relations specialist, Colleen Wamback witnessed the fire tests at UC San Diego and wrote an article which may be accessed under WPI Research Stories.

More information on the project may be accessed on the Project Webpage Earthquake and Post-Earthquake Fire Performance of Mid-Rise Light-Gauge Cold-Formed Steel Framed Building. A 5-minute video clip showing different phases of the test may be viewed here. The project was also covered by UCSD’s Jacob’s School of Engineering’s External Relations team and was focused on the cover page of their alumni magazine, PULSE. Additional videos pertaining to the project may be viewed here.