Summary of Assessing Fire Damage of Concrete Structures

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Dealing with fire damage to any property, whether big or small, residential or commercial, can be a stressful situation. This article provides a summary of the Assessment of Concrete Structures After Fire by the SP Technical Research Institute of Sweden in order to answer two questions: what are the main approaches to fire assessment, and when does fire damage require assessment? Contact the experts at Royal Masonry tp learn more about every masonry damage and repairs.

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Assessing the Fire Damage Of Concrete Structures 

Fire Damaged Concrete -  Image source: Sandberg.co.uk

Fire Damaged Concrete - Image source: Sandberg.co.uk

If you have recently experienced a fire of any concrete structure or building, your first question is likely, "can I fix it?" Though the ideal situation would be a simple refurbish instead of full replacement, it is important to assess the damage and choose the safest solution. See below for fire damage assessment methods as outlined in the Assessment of Concrete Structures After Fire article. 

Main Approaches To Fire Damage Assessment

There are different ways to performa  fire damage assessment. The first method we will look at is the initial assessment and damage mapping approach. 

Damage Mapping and Initial Assessment

The first step many property owners take in assessing fire damage is to read through any reports performed by the fire department. These reports often contain useful information that will help you further understand the extent of damage. Ensure you obtain all information available before moving forward.

A general assessment can also be conducted. If possible, have a copy of any technical drawings of the damaged building available during the inspection. During a general assessment, you can find out information such as:

  • Visible damage
  • Extent of the fire
  • Pattern of fire spread
  • Size of the fire
Damage of Concrete Pillar Can Help Determine Extent of Damage -  Image source: Sandberg.co.uk

Damage of Concrete Pillar Can Help Determine Extent of Damage - Image source: Sandberg.co.uk

According to the SP Technical Research Institute of Sweden, it is also a good idea to bring a hammer and chisel to the general assessment. This will help you get a deeper look at all potential damage. Sound frequency can also help determine the extent of damage. For example, delaminated areas typically present a lower frequency sound when struck.

Temperature indicators are another good way to learn the extent of damage your building has sustained. Different materials melt, deteriorate, darken, ignite, or respond at different temperatures. Because of this, you can often visibly see how intense the fire was due to damage. See below for three examples (source).


Substance

Paints


Wood

Copper

Conditions

Deteriorates
Destroyed

Ignites

Melts

Approx. Temperature

100 C
150 C

240 C

1000-1100 C

 


To view the full Effect Of Temperature On Common Materials chart, click here.

Using temperature conditions chart like the one listed above, you can more accurately assess the damage to your concrete structure. For example, if you see melted copper, you will know the fire blazed at a significantly high temperature.

Using all of these methods listed above along with "visual mapping" (mapping out spalling, cracking, delaminations, and other visible damage) is often enough to accurately assess fire damage. 

Other Tests For Structural Damage

 
Operation Of Rebound Hammer -  Image Source: TheConstructor.org

Operation Of Rebound Hammer - Image Source: TheConstructor.org

 

Other tests and methods can be used if building owners still need more information about the extent of fire damage. These tests include: 

  • Load Test - Loads are applied to the structure in increasing increments, for over 24 hours. Responses are measured and compared with theoretical model data. These tests are costly and time consuming but provide reliable information. 
     
  • Rebound Hammer - A simple test that involves listening to the sound produced when concrete is struck by a hammer. There are different hammers available to conduct the test. 
     
  • Ultrasonic Pulse Velocity - Equipment including a pulse generator is used to test compression waves. The assessment of the waves can be used to estimate the thickness of poor quality layers. However, the test is not always accurate as many factors can influence pulse velocity. 
     
  • Off Site Test Methods - Concrete samples can be taken and sent off to perform off site test methods. Some examples include Colour analysis (analyzing concrete colour to determine fire intensity and chemical reactions), laboratory furnace testing (heating undamaged samples in lab furnace to aid with colour analysis), and more.

Click here to read about more tests for structure damage. 

When Does Fire Damage Assessment Need To Take Place?

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Fire damage assessment should take place any time a building has suffered from a fire. Unfortunately, it is not always apparent how extensive fire damage is just by looking at the visible damage. Structural damage may occur that is not always seen with the untrained eye or without the proper assessment tools.

It is best to work with the professionals to get an accurate assessment and learn the true extent of damage on your building. They may recommend tests such as the ones listed above depending on the estimated amount of damage your building sustained.   

Trust The Masonry Experts At Royal Masonry!

We understand the hardships that can come with a damaged building. If you need to replace brickwork on a damaged structure, you can rely on the the team at Royal Masonry to provide superior customer service and the highest quality stone masonry craftsmanship. Our mission is to provide you with the best quality workmanship at the right price. You can be certain that we will get the job done right the first time.

Our professional approach and superior customer service mean that you can relax in the knowledge that your project is in safe hands. Trust the experts at Royal Masonry with any masonry service you require. Contact us today and find out for yourself why our customers highly recommend us to their friends and family.

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