Aim: The aim of these considerations is to achieve a reliable answer to the question about the credibility of the use of a simple computational model with a single transverse frame isolated from a complex load-bearing structure of an entire steel hall in the fire resistance-evaluation of such a hall. The study of the behaviour of a simple transverse frame under fire conditions through checking all its potential failure modes allows to specify the required fire resistance which can be interpreted as the critical temperature set especially for this frame and being independent of the fire scenario adopted for the analysis. This temperature is unequivocally associated with the reaching by the frame load-bearing structure of the fire-resistance limit state.

Methodology: The classical Rankine-Merchant formula generalised to the fire case is proposed to be used in the specification of the critical temperature for the transverse frame selected for the analysis. It quantifies the reliable bearing capacity of the tested frame through the interaction of the appropriate capacities associated with purely elastic and purely plastic failure modes. The limitations of the assessment method recommended by the authors are described in detail, resulting from the need for the acceptance of many formal assumptions simplifying the analysis. The impact of the complexity of the formal model adopted for the assessed frame fire-resistance evaluation on the obtained results is also verified.

Results: Both the verification and the validation of the computational procedure proposed by the authors in this article were performed by comparing the displacements of the selected nodes in the transverse frame analysed for fire conditions. The idea was to check what type of differences are obtained through the use of a simplified two-dimensional computational model of a single frame in relation to the corresponding results obtained when a complex three-dimensional model of the entire hall is considered, and how big they are.

Conclusions: It has been shown that the simplified computational model of a single transverse frame selected from the entire steel hall seems to be sufficiently reliable in the case in which fire resistance of such a frame is determined by the first phase of this fire, when the deformation rate of all bearing members is not yet significantly increased. However, if the tested frame also ensures the safe transfer of all loads applied to it when we are dealing with large deformations and large weakening of the members determining the real capacity of such a frame then the assessment of the predicted fire resistance obtained on the basis of the model limited to the analysis of only a single transverse frame might prove to be too optimistic. It does not account for the acceleration of the deflection of the frame beam due to the action of the heated purlins being in tension as a consequence of the so called catenary effect.

Keywords: steel hall, fire resistance, transverse frame, computational model, Rankine-Merchant approach, purely elastic resistance, purely plastic resistance, critical temperature

Type of article: original scientific article