Aim: The purpose of this article is to present a model to predict the potential loss of a building load bearing capacity as a consequence of a fire.

Methodology: The proposed model is part of an engineer’s toolbox, used for decision making purposes and intended for use by commanders of the Polish State Fire Service (PSFS) during firefighting and rescue operations in buildings. There is a limited number of full scale studies performed on buildings exposed to fire activity and infrequent incidents involving the collapse of buildings as a result of fires, making it difficult to harness practical experience in this area for the development of a model. For this reason the model is based on an analysis of national statutes, which contain specific requirements appertaining to load bearing capacities. The authors also utilized subjective assessments of deterioration to the building construction load bearing capacity, provided by commanders responsible for fire-rescue operations. In the subsequent phase of model development, it is appropriate to conduct interviews and questionnaires among commanders, who have appropriate experience and can identify certain signs, which accompany the collapse of building structures during fire incidents.

Results: A model was designed, to determine the potential loss of a building's load-carrying capacity under fire conditions. The model covers three types of the buildings: one where a hazard to humans is created (ZL), the second incorporates buildings used for production and storage (PM) and third concerns other buildings, for which there are no statutory requirements for structural strength or buildings built before 1994. After an analysis of literature, the authors selected 6 key indicators, which point to a potential loss of load bearing capacity during fire incidents. An evaluation of these indicators is possible by Commanders during fire incident operations. Interviews and questionnaires will provide information for comparison between selected indicators and actual symptoms identified by commanders.

Conclusions: The proposed model enables the assessment of the potential loss of a building load bearing capacity under fire conditions and can provide important support for commanders during fire and rescue operations. However, it is necessary to use the experience of commanders, to optimise decisions about any deterioration to building load bearing capacity during fire incidents.

Keywords: loss of the building load carrying capacity, support the commander's decision, fire and rescue operations, fire safety

Type of article: short scientific report