CTBUH 8th World Congress 2008 l

Biography
Mr. Daniel J. O’Connor P.E. is Vice-President of Engineering for Schirmer Engineering and received his B.S. degree in Fire
Protection Engineering from the Illinois Institute of Technology in 1979 and his M.S. Degree in Fire Protection Engineer-
ing from the University of Maryland in 1992. In 2004 Mr. O’Connor was elected to the grade of Fellow in the Society of
Fire Protection Engineers. Mr. O’Connor is the Chair of the Society of Fire Protection Engineer’s Task Group on Human
Behavior. Mr. O’Connor is a member of fve NFPA Technical Committees that include NFPA 72, Fire Alarm Code, and the
Chair of the NFPA 101 Technical Committee on Healthcare Occupancies. He has been involved in numerous tall building
projects during his career including the Harold Washington Library Center in Chicago, fre and egress modeling for the
Prudential Center in Boston, fre modeling analysis for Phoenix City Hall in Phoenix and the new Trump Tower in Chicago.
He currently serves as the principal fre protection and life safety engineer on three recent major tall building projects in
Chicago – McCormick Place West Expansion (high-rise convention facility), Block 37 (mixed-use and underground transit
station), and the 610 meter(2000 feet) tall Chicago Spire.
dan_oconnor@
schirmereng.com
Building Façade or Fire Safety Façade?
Daniel J. O’Connor P.E., FSFPE
Schirmer Engineering Corporation, 707 Lake Cook Road, Deerfield, IL 60015
Abstract
In this paper, the mechanisms of fire spread at the façade and the recognized fire safety considerations will be reviewed.
The code provisions and current test standards applicable to perimeter fire barrier systems (installed between the façade
and slab edge) will be reviewed including discussion of why developing standards may jeopardize architects’ creative
designs in the future. More importantly, as architects develop new and leading edge creative curtain wall designs, it
becomes more critical to consider the risk factors that can impact the building’s overall level of fire safety. This paper
will outline the list of risk factors that may influence issues of curtain wall fire safety design and discuss what building
systems and features can factor into an analysis to validate a given curtain wall’s design details.
Keywords: façade, curtain wall, fire spread, high-rise, leapfrog
Introduction
Visually, it is often the goal of skyscraper
architecture to define a personality or individual character
through the design of any skyscraper’s façade. This face
or skin, wrapped to the structural frame beneath, is often
key to an architect’s desire to evoke our emotions,
instilling a sense of grandeur as if each new skyscraper
were an artist’s sculpture. Indeed, a trip to any library to
browse the many books on high-rise architecture or
skyscrapers provides us with page after page of
photographs of hundreds of towering structures, each
with a face and personality as unique as the architects and
engineers that imagined and designed each tower.
In recent decades the desire for taller structures and,
particularly, those that are competing for recognition to
be among the tallest, if not the world’s tallest, is reason to
review the fire safety issues related to façade or curtain
wall design. Additionally, due to the creativity of
architects, new and unique façade designs are continually
appearing. In 2005 at the 7
th
World Congress of the
Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH)
many unique designs were showcased with twisted
facades, categorized as tordos or twisters (Vollers 2005).
These unique designs veer from the more traditional
continuous vertical façade surfaces of the past, often
using curved surfaces and rotated floor plates that
complicate the façade connections and hidden details of
fire barrier assemblies. Double curtain wall systems,
where two glazed walls are separated by distances of less
than a meter are being implemented. These twisted façade
designs, double skin designs and other new facade
creations this author has encountered pose new
challenges from a fire engineering perspective. The risk
of fire spread through articulated elements of the façade
or vertically around the facade via the mechanism of
flame leap, poses new concerns for the newest class of
super high-rise structures. The concerns revolve around
the issues of fire department response capabilities,
reliability of sprinkler systems and associated water
supplies, and the characteristics of the building and
building’s occupants. In this paper, the mechanisms of
fire spread at the façade and the recognized fire safety
considerations will be reviewed. The code provisions and
current test standards applicable to perimeter fire barrier
systems (installed between the façade and slab edge) will
be reviewed including discussion of why developing
standards may jeopardize architects’ creative designs in
the future. More importantly, as architects develop new
and leading edge creative curtain wall designs, it becomes
more critical to consider the risk factors that can impact
the building’s overall level of fire safety. This paper will
outline the list of risk factors that may influence issues of
curtain wall fire safety design and discuss what building
systems and features can factor into an analysis to
validate a given curtain wall’s design details.
Mechanisms of Fire Spread
Our understanding of the mechanisms of
floor-to-floor fire spread at the curtain wall have been
established by the work of fire researchers and fire
engineers dating back to the 1960’s-70’s, curtain wall fire
testing work done in the1990’s and the continuing testing
efforts of product manufacturers and testing laboratories.
From a fire dynamics perspective, we know that flames
emitting from an exterior window can extend higher than
5m (16.5 ft) above the top of the window. Yokoi reported
such results in 1960. One test of Yokoi’s was a test room
with plywood walls/ceilings and a fire load of 40kg/m
2
(8
lb/ft
2
), which is characteristic of residential occupancies
and at the lower end of the fire load scale. The hot gases
from the fire room window measured 400-600°C
(750°-1,112°F) at 1,750mm (5.75 ft.) above the top edge
of the fire room window. The glass broke out under this
exposure.
CTBUH 8th World Congress 2008 2
Building Façade or Fire Safety Façade?
Daniel J. O’Connor P.E., FSFPE
Schirmer Engineering Corporation, 707 Lake Cook Road, Deerfield, IL 60015
Abstract
In this paper, the mechanisms of fire spread at the façade and the recognized fire safety considerations will be reviewed.
The code provisions and current test standards applicable to perimeter fire barrier systems (installed between the façade
and slab edge) will be reviewed including discussion of why developing standards may jeopardize architects’ creative
designs in the future. More importantly, as architects develop new and leading edge creative curtain wall designs, it
becomes more critical to consider the risk factors that can impact the building’s overall level of fire safety. This paper
will outline the list of risk factors that may influence issues of curtain wall fire safety design and discuss what building
systems and features can factor into an analysis to validate a given curtain wall’s design details.
Keywords: façade, curtain wall, fire spread, high-rise, leapfrog
Introduction
Visually, it is often the goal of skyscraper
architecture to define a personality or individual character
through the design of any skyscraper’s façade. This face
or skin, wrapped to the structural frame beneath, is often
key to an architect’s desire to evoke our emotions,
instilling a sense of grandeur as if each new skyscraper
were an artist’s sculpture. Indeed, a trip to any library to
browse the many books on high-rise architecture or
skyscrapers provides us with page after page of
photographs of hundreds of towering structures, each
with a face and personality as unique as the architects and
engineers that imagined and designed each tower.
In recent decades the desire for taller structures and,
particularly, those that are competing for recognition to
be among the tallest, if not the world’s tallest, is reason to
review the fire safety issues related to façade or curtain
wall design. Additionally, due to the creativity of
architects, new and unique façade designs are continually
appearing. In 2005 at the 7
th
World Congress of the
Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH)
many unique designs were showcased with twisted
facades, categorized as tordos or twisters (Vollers 2005).
These unique designs veer from the more traditional
continuous vertical façade surfaces of the past, often
using curved surfaces and rotated floor plates that
complicate the façade connections and hidden details of
fire barrier assemblies. Double curtain wall systems,
where two glazed walls are separated by distances of less
than a meter are being implemented. These twisted façade
designs, double skin designs and other new facade
creations this author has encountered pose new
challenges from a fire engineering perspective. The risk
of fire spread through articulated elements of the façade
or vertically around the facade via the mechanism of
flame leap, poses new concerns for the newest class of
super high-rise structures. The concerns revolve around
the issues of fire department response capabilities,
reliability of sprinkler systems and associated water
supplies, and the characteristics of the building and
building’s occupants. In this paper, the mechanisms of
fire spread at the façade and the recognized fire safety
considerations will be reviewed. The code provisions and
current test standards applicable to perimeter fire barrier
systems (installed between the façade and slab edge) will
be reviewed including discussion of why developing
standards may jeopardize architects’ creative designs in
the future. More importantly, as architects develop new
and leading edge creative curtain wall designs, it becomes
more critical to consider the risk factors that can impact
the building’s overall level of fire safety. This paper will
outline the list of risk factors that may influence issues of
curtain wall fire safety design and discuss what building
systems and features can factor into an analysis to
validate a given curtain wall’s design details.
Mechanisms of Fire Spread
Our understanding of the mechanisms of
floor-to-floor fire spread at the curtain wall have been
established by the work of fire researchers and fire
engineers dating back to the 1960’s-70’s, curtain wall fire
testing work done in the1990’s and the continuing testing
efforts of product manufacturers and testing laboratories.
From a fire dynamics perspective, we know that flames
emitting from an exterior window can extend higher than
5m (16.5 ft) above the top of the window. Yokoi reported
such results in 1960. One test of Yokoi’s was a test room
with plywood walls/ceilings and a fire load of 40kg/m
2
(8
lb/ft
2
), which is characteristic of residential occupancies
and at the lower end of the fire load scale. The hot gases
from the fire room window measured 400-600°C
(750°-1,112°F) at 1,750mm (5.75 ft.) above the top edge
of the fire room window. The glass broke out under this
exposure.
CTBUH 8th World Congress 2008 3
Analysis of 400 fire compartment experiments
(Thomas and Heselden 1972) helped to more fully
explain the physical phenomena of ventilation controlled
fires. Such ventilation controlled fires representing the
scenario where a fire burning in a building breaks the
window glazing, permitting hot gases to flow out the top
portion of the opening. A portion of the hot gases are
unable to burn inside the room due to limited air
(ventilation controlled) but, upon movement to the
exterior, encounter sufficient air entrainment, allowing
the hot fuel gases to burn outside the building. The
result is a flame projecting out and upward from the
window. From a visual perspective, flame extension is
estimated at the point that flame temperature drops below
540°C (1,000°F), which corresponds to the flame no
longer appearing luminous.
Taking the data of various researchers, Ove Arup &
Partners was commissioned to develop a number of
correlations to estimate flame projections and flame
temperatures under natural or forced draft conditions
(Law and O’Brien 1975). We know from this work that
the fire flame projection and temperature profile will be a
factor of window area and height, room geometry, fuel
contents and burning rate, and wind velocity. In review,
our knowledge of fire dynamics allows us to understand
how the building interior areas and curtain wall can be
attacked by fire in three principal ways. Figure 1
illustrates the potential temperature and heat flux
characteristics of a fully developed, unsprinklered
compartment fire.
Figure 1. Exterior curtain wall and floor fire exposure mechanisms.
(Schirmer Engineering, 2007)
The three principal mechanisms at work in Figure 1
are as follows:
x Inside – Flames and fire gases in the building
attack the interior surfaces and details of the
curtain wall and associated perimeter fire barrier
materials.
x Outside – Flames and hot gases projecting from
fire-broken glazing or other openings directly
impinge on the curtain wall exterior face
(convection).
x Outside – Flames projecting from fire-broken
glazing or other openings radiate heat to and
through glazed surfaces or through other
openings to building contents and furnishings.
The exterior building architectural features
incorporated as elements of the façade or, which perhaps,
are due to the structural floor plate changes, can impact
the flame projection and associated corrective and
radiation heat exposure to the façade. Work done at the
National Research Council of Canada (Oleszkiewicz
1990-91), showed the extent to which horizontal
projection above flames issuing from a window below
can be effective at reducing the flame exposure. This
work also showed that vertical exterior elements could
have a negative impact by increasing the vertical
projection of flames along a façade. Figure 2 illustrates
the change in fire flame position and extension due to a
horizontal projection above a window and vertical panels
located at each side of a window.
Figure 2. Impact of horizontal and vertical projections on window
plume. (Oleszkiewicz Nov.1990, Fire Technology, p. 366)
In terms of hazard reduction or increase, Figure 3
illustrates how the deflection of the flame by a horizontal
projection reduces the heat transferred to the wall above
the burning compartment. Conversely, the vertical
projections increase the heat transfer to the wall. The
increase in heat flux with vertical projections installed is
due to the restriction of lateral air entrainment, which
forces a lengthening of the gas plume as it seeks to
entrain more air for combustion.
CTBUH 8th World Congress 2008 4
Figure 3. Decrease and increase of heat transfer for horizontal and
vertical projections on window plume. (Oleszkiewicz Nov.1990, Fire
Technology, p. 367)
Oleszkiewicz conducted propane fueled
experiments in a three-story high facility using a window
of 2.6m width and 1.37m high (8.5 ft x 4.5ft) and fires on
the order of 6MW. Horizontal projections of 0.3, 0.6
and 1.0m (approximately 1, 2, and 3.3 ft) were compared
to the case of flames issued out the window along a
vertical wall with no projections. Heat flux (connective
+ radiative) measurements taken at 1m, 2m, 3m (3.3, 6.6,
10.8 ft) above the top of the window showed a significant
decrease in heat flux with horizontal flame deflectors in
place. For example, at the 1m height above the window
opening, heat flux ranged from approximately 50 kw/m
2
to 100 kw/m
2
. However, as indicated in Figure 4 at the
1m height, total heat flux was reduced by approximately
55%, 60% and 85% respectively for projections of 0.3,
0.6 and 1.0m. These reductions show the effectiveness of
a horizontal projection. By comparison, Oleszkiewicz
noted that a vertical spandrel wall was not found to be a
practical means of protection against flames issuing from
an opening. Achieving a 50% decrease in heat flux
exposure via a vertical spandrel panel in this same test
server would require a 2.5m (8.2 ft) high spandrel. It is
noted that the same performance in heat flux reduction
was achieved with the 0.3m (1 ft) horizontal projection at
1m above the opening.
Background on Current Code Practices
Today’s codes such as the 2007 International
Building Code and the National Fire Protection
Association’s 2006 Building Construction and Safety
Code (NFPA 5000) recognize that with a properly
designed and operational sprinkler system, the threat of
fire spread along the exterior of the curtain wall is
effectively mitigated. This is a critical assumption that
deserves further consideration in the context of super
high-rise buildings and is discussed in detail later.
Figure 4. Heat transfer comparison of exposures for 0.3, 0.6 and 1.0m
horizontal flame deflectors. The data is normalized to readings taken
at 1m above the opening with no horizontal deflector. (Oleszkiewicz
Nov.1991, Fire Technology, p. 339)
From a fire containment perspective, there are
currently two basic ways to provide a code complying
curtain wall design in fully sprinklered buildings. The
most basic approach is for the curtain wall to be
supported directly on the structural floor slab edge, which
precludes any gap or joint condition, given that the floor
slab is continuous to or extends past the building
envelope. This type of installation would permit
floor-to-floor glazed curtain wall assemblies in fully
sprinklered buildings as shown in Figure 5.
Figure 5. Curtain wall supported on Slab edge. (Schirmer
Engineering, 2007)
This approach is sometimes observed in high-rise
building design, but it is not the most common approach
for the installation and support of curtain walls. The
second approach is applicable when the curtain wall
CTBUH 8th World Congress 2008 5
assembly is positioned just outside the edge of a fire rated
floor system, such that a void space results between the
floor system and the curtain wall assembly as shown in
Figure 6.
Figure 6. Curtain wall hung off Slab edge. (Schirmer Engineering,
2007)
The noted codes require that the void space at the
slab edge in Figure 6 be sealed with an approved material
or system to prevent the interior spread of fire (IBC 713.4,
NFPA 5000 8.9.3). This requires some form of a joint
system or what today are called “perimeter fire barrier
systems.” The basic performance criterion for these
perimeter fire barrier systems is either one of the
following:
1. Such material or systems shall be securely installed
and capable of preventing the passage of flame and
hot gases sufficient to ignite cotton waste where
subject to ASTM E119 time-temp fire conditions for
a time period equal to the fire resistance of the floor
assembly, or
2. Such material or systems are to be tested in
accordance with ASTM E2307, “Standard Test
Method for Determining Fire Resistance of Perimeter
Fire Barrier Systems Using Intermediate-Scale
Multi-Story Test Apparatus”.
The methodology for compliance with either the
criteria of item 1 above or item 2 is essentially the same,
the former being the original performance intent
statement which evolved into the more recent and
formally defined ASTM Standard. Although a defined
ASTM Standard does exist, there is confusion in the
building industry among design architects and fire
engineers resulting from differences in the rating criteria
imposed by various testing laboratories. Underwriters
Laboratories (UL) certifies perimeter fire barrier systems
under the product category “Perimeter Fire Barrier
Containment Systems”. The systems certified by UL
use the same two-story large scale fire test apparatus as
are described in the ASTM E2307 Standard. However,
the systems certified by UL are measured in four aspects
– an F-Rating, a T-Rating, an Integrity Rating and an
Insulation Rating. The ASTM E2307 Standard requires
the reporting of an F-Rating and a T-Rating. This is in
contrast to the F-rating which is the only requirement
stipulated by the 2006 IBC and NFPA 5000 (per code
change proposal.) It is important to understand these
ratings and the purpose behind each rating.
F-Rating: An F-rating evaluates the most
fundamental function of a perimeter fire barrier system.
The F-rating is given if the vertical passage of flame and
hot gases sufficient to ignite a cotton pad is prevented by
the perimeter fire barrier system. This is testing the
ability of the perimeter fire barrier system to maintain fire
resistance in the void space between the interior surface
of the curtain wall assembly and the floor slab edge. The
F-rating is expressed in hours (e.g. 2 hours) for
comparison to the fire resistance rating of an associated
floor assembly.
T-Rating: A T-rating evaluates the extent of
temperature increase on the non-fire side of the perimeter
fire barrier system. The temperature measurements are
taken at a point 25.4mm (1 in.) or less above the fill
materials perimeter fire barrier system. A T-rating is
expressed in hours for perimeter fire barrier systems that
do not show a temperature rise of 181C (325F) for any
individual thermocouple, or a temperature rise of 139C
(250F) for averaged thermocouple points (required for
wide voids). T-ratings are typically in on the order of 0, ¼
and ½ hour.
Insulation Rating: This rating provided under
the UL certification process is similar to the T-Rating per
the ASTM E2307 procedure; however, UL additionally
evaluates the temperature rise on the unexposed interior
surface of the curtain wall assembly above the fill
materials. This is intended to determine if fire can spread
to a floor above through the curtain wall construction and
not just the fill material of the perimeter fire barrier
system. Insulation ratings are typically in on the order of
0, ¼ and ½ hour.
Integrity Rating: This rating provided under the
UL certification process is similar to the F-Rating per the
ASTM E2307 procedure; however, UL additionally
evaluates if there is any flame passage or surface flaming
on the interior surface of the curtain wall assembly above
the fill materials. In addition, the glazing above the fire
exposed floor is monitored to determine when the glazing
breaks. The intent of monitoring the glazing integrity is to
identify how long in hours the curtain wall glazing will
CTBUH 8th World Congress 2008 6
survive, resisting the fire leapfrog that has been observed
to occur in multi-story buildings.
The F-Rating and Integrity Rating are sometimes
interrelated in that a perimeter fire barrier system will not
be capable of achieving an F-Rating if the curtain wall
does not maintain integrity and allows the perimeter fire
barrier system to become dislocated or displaced during
the fire test. This is generally the case for fully glazed
curtain wall systems that incorporate glazed insulated
spandrel panels. The failure mode for such assemblies
occurs if the spandrel glazing and framing members are
not sufficiently insulated. Under these conditions, the
perimeter fire barrier system fill materials will fall out of
place when the glazing panel and associated insulation
fail to maintain a compression fit with the fill materials of
the perimeter fire barrier system. This has often resulted
in confusion and frustration for architects desiring to use
full height, floor-to-floor glazed openings.
Given that the 2006 IBC and NFPA 5000 codes
only require the void at the intersection of the curtain
wall and the floor assembly be protected with fire barrier
fill materials, there is often confusion. There are no
formally published tested perimeter fire barrier systems
that allow for floor-to floor height vision glazing. This is
mostly an artifact of the nature of compression fit type
fire barrier methods and their integration with fully
glazed curtain walls. If a tested perimeter fire barrier
system could be shown to stay in-place in the void after
the glazing failed, then code compliance would be
achieved. Yet, the extent of the failed glazing may raise
concerns for flames readily entering adjacent spaces
above. This lack of such capable perimeter fire barrier
systems poses a challenge to curtain wall
designers/architects who wish to create façades using
expansive vision glass panels.
The issue of performance expectations of non-fire
rated curtain walls and the associated perimeter fire
barrier assembly has been a significant item of discussion
in the United States. As a result of recent code changes
is it reported (Koffel 2005) that the code intent is to
recognize that if the curtain wall assembly does not have
the same fire resistive capability of the floor slab, then
the system protecting the void space need not perform
after curtain wall integrity is lost.
Loss History
The threat of floor-to-floor fire spread at the
exterior façade of any building is real and confirmed via
actual unsprinklered high-rise building fires. A number
of incidents have been identified in the literature (Shriver
2006, Belles 1986). The following summaries are based
on information extracted from the noted references:
John Hancock Center, Chicago, Illinois, USA, 100
stories (Peterson 1973):
In 1972 this fire started on the 96
th
story in an
unsprinklered two-level cocktail lounge, and caused
damage to the 95
th
through 97
th
stories. The fire burned
for about an hour and 20 minutes. The floors throughout
were of poured concrete; outer skin was of glass set in
aluminum mullions with a ¼-inch-thick aluminum skin
over the steel beams and columns on the exterior of the
building. One-half-inch plate glass windows in aluminum
mullions extend from the floor to the ceiling. At the
firefighters arrival, the fire had broken windows on the
96
th
floor, and burning fire gases were pushing out of the
openings. Because the sides of the building taper toward
the top and because there was very little wind that
morning, breaking glass slid down the side of the
building instead of falling freely or flying around.
Windows along approximately 60 feet of the 96
th
story
were cracked or broken, some exterior aluminum skin
near them melted, as did some of the mullions. Fire
entered the 97
th
story through the window, but was
confined to some combustibles on a test bench. Very little
combustible material in the 97
th
story was a major reason
the damage from this fire was not much greater.
Investigators noted that had there been a different
occupancy on the 97
th
floor, with more combustible
materials near the windows, a serious fire probably would
have developed.
Andraus Building, Sao Paulo, Brazil, 31 stories,
(Willey 1972):
This building was a department store occupying the
basement and seven stories above grade. The 8th to 31
st
floors were office use. In 1972 this fire occurred on the
4
th
floor of the department store. The fire developed on
the four floors of the department store and then spread
externally up the side of the building, involving another
24 floors. The fire gutted most areas of the building. A
total of 16 fatalities resulted. The building façade had
extensive floor-to-ceiling areas of ¼-inch plate glass set
in steel frames supported on a concrete spandrel (14.2 in.
high) that was integral with the concrete floor slab.
Every other section of windows was operable. From the
4
th
and 5
th
floors, the fire spread up the open stairs to
involve the 6
th
and 7
th
floors. As heat broke window glass,
flames broke out the north side on all four floors, forming
a flame front that exposed three or four floors above the
department store. The heat from exposing flames ignited
combustible ceiling tiles and wood partitions on each
floor. The estimated time for full involvement of the
façade after flame had emerged from the department store
floors was 15 minutes. Approximately 300 people fled to
the roof top heliport and eventually rescued by
helicopters. Fire department response involved 28
pumpers, numerous tank trucks, and four aerial ladders.
CTBUH 8th World Congress 2008 7
Occidental Center Tower, Los Angeles, CA, USA, 32
stories, (Lathrop 1977):
In 1976 this fire was of incendiary origin on the
20
th
floor of a non-sprinklered building. A flammable
liquid was used, and the fire was quite large from the
very beginning. The exterior curtain wall consisted of
glazed terrazzo tile extending 4-feet-3-inches below the
floor line, and 2-feet-9-inhes above it. The window
opening was approximately 71 inches high. The
window was of tempered glass. Both horizontal and
vertical aluminum sun screens were attached to the
exterior of the building. Fire damaged approximately
60% of the floor of fire origin, and then spread externally
to the 21
st
floor, destroying approximately 10% of that
floor. Broken glass falling from the building was
reported to have hit the ground at distances up to 70 feet
from the building. The fire was knocked down
approximately one hour and 30 minutes after the initial
alarm. A total firefighting force of approximately 300
men were utilized in suppressing the fire.
The Las Vegas Hilton, Las Vegas, NV, USA, 30 stories
(Demers 1982):
In 1981 this fire occurred on the 8
th
floor in the
vicinity of the East Tower elevator lobby. Fire spread
from the 8
th
floor to the 30
th
floor vertically. The fire
caused eight fatalities and approximately 350 injuries.
On the exterior wall of elevator lobbies, three
3-foot-by-6-foot windows of double-strength plate glass
created a large glass area 6 feet by 9 feet, set on the
concrete slab. The glass was recessed 18 inches and was
separated vertically by a 3-1/2-foot spandrel. The
spandrel was prefabricated assembly of masonry, plaster,
and gypsum wallboard on steel stud, with no apparent
evidence of combustible material. The fire progressed
vertically up the exterior of the building, floor by floor.
After the eighth floor become involved, it is estimated
that the vertical exterior spread took 20 to 25 minutes to
reach the top of the 30-story building. Occupants
evacuated the building by way of the stairway, were
trapped in their rooms by the fire, or waited out the fire in
their rooms. Many people encountered smoke in the
stairway, especially in the East Tower east interior
stairway. Some people in the stairway were able to get to
the roof and were rescued by helicopters. A total of 23
engines, six ladders, two snorkels, nine rescue units, two
air cascade units, and 12 helicopters were utilized during
the firefighting and rescue operations.
First Interstate Bank Building, Los Angeles, CA, USA,
62-story office building (Klem 1988):
In 1988 this fire started on an office floor, and by
the time the fire department arrived, a significant portion
of the floor was involved in flame. Fire extended to four
floors before being contained after 3-1/2 hours. The
building was being retrofitted with sprinklers, but the
system was not operational at the time of the fire. A
3-inch void between the floor slab and the exterior
aluminum and glass curtain wall was filled with thermal
insulating material extending approximately 18 in. above
and below the floor slab. Gypsum board enclosed the
safing material above the floor slab. The insulation
below the floor deck was open to a ceiling return air
plenum. About 40 persons were in the building. The fire
department rescued two from the 37
th
floor and one from
the 50
th
. The fire department with 64 fire companies and
383 fire fighters made a stand on the not-yet-involved
16
th
floor and was able to stop further spread.
One Meridian Plaza, Philadelphia, PA, USA, 30
stories (Klem 1991):
In 1991 this fire started on the 22
nd
floor in a
vacant office in a pile of linseed-soaked rags. It burned
for more than 19 hours, completely consuming eight
floors. There were three firefighter fatalities, and 24
were injured. The exterior of the building was covered by
granite curtain wall panels with glass windows attached
to the perimeter floor girders and spandrels. Exterior
vertical fire spread occurred as a result of exterior
window breakage, and this was the cited primary means
of fire spread. There were no sprinklers in the building up
to the 30
th
floor, where ten sprinklers supplied by fire
department pumpers are reported to have stopped fire
spread. Only building staff were in the building at the
time of the fire. Fire attack was hampered by heavy
smoke, complete failure of the building’s electrical
system, and inadequate water pressure. Firefighting was
abandoned after 11 hours due to risk of structural
collapse.
Parque Central, East Tower, Caracas, Venezuela,
56-story office building:
In 2004 this fire started on the 34
th
floor and
eventually extended all the way to the top of the 56-story
building. There were no functioning sprinkler systems.
Pumps and standpipe systems apparently were not
working. Photographs show evidence of fire spread along
the exterior façade. The building was unoccupied, but
three employees and up to about 25 firefighters were
injured. Firefighters backed by helicopters and troops
battled the blaze for 12 hours before abandoning the
effort due to fear of structural collapse.
Several observations are apparent upon review of
these seven incidents and which point to fire risk
assessment considerations.
1. Large fire department manpower and apparatus
response was observed in six of the seven incidents.
In two cases, One Merdian Plaza and Parque Central,
the fire departments abandoned their efforts due to
fears of structural collapse.
2. In several incidents occupants fled to the roof of the
building to be rescued by helicopters. In contrast
many of today’s super high-rise buildings will not
have an accessible roof to facilitate occupant rescue
operations.
CTBUH 8th World Congress 2008 8
3. Fire spread was attributable to broken windows and
flame extension along the exterior facades. The
number of floors involved was 3 of 100 stories, 28 of
31 stories, 2 of 32 stories, 23 of 30 stories, 4 of 62
stories, 8 of 30 stories, and 23 of 56 stories
respectively for the seven incidents.
4. The value of sprinklers was observed in the One
Meridian Plaza incident where ten sprinklers supplied
by fire department pumpers are reported to have
stopped fire spread. It is reported(Klem 1991) that the
sprinklers activated as a result of heat transmission
via broken windows and through the void space that
existed between the floor slab and exterior granite
façade, as well as, heat conduction through the floor
slab. As combustibles ignited at multiple locations
the sprinklers operated and extinguished the fires.
Curtain Wall Components – Performance Factors
Curtain walls are a relatively complex combination
of components that include aluminum frames, vision
glass; spandrel panels of glass, metal or stone; metal back
pans; insulation; gaskets; sealants; and anchors or
connectors of steel or aluminum. Given a fully developed
fire exposure in a room or space (i.e. sprinkler system out
of service or failure scenario) bordered by a building’s
curtain wall system, it can be expected that vision glass
failure will occur within minutes. Once the failure occurs
and flames are extending to the exterior, the various
curtain wall components and any perimeter fire barrier
system are then subject to thermal forces and degradation
that can result in fire spread to the floor above. The
nature of the curtain wall design will dictate the relative
capability to resist floor-to-floor fire spread. Key factors
that impact the curtain wall’s resistance to vertical fire
spread are as follows:
x Full height or partial height (i.e. spandrel panel
design) vision glass systems
x Nature of the glass used to construct glazing
system
x Nature of the curtain wall components (e.g.
framing, spandrel panels)
x Height of spandrel panels
x Vertical or horizontal projections on exterior that
may deflect or enhance flame behavior
x Building geometry at curtain wall – twister,
staggered, sloped, etc.
x Operable windows/openings – size, vertical or
horizontal orientation
x Ability of perimeter fire barrier system to remain
in void during fire exposure
When full height vision glass systems are used,
flame extension and heat fluxes to the window areas
above can be expected to be greater than that expected for
curtain walls using a spandrel panel design. A spandrel
panel design will limit the flame extension and reduce
heat flux to the areas above by providing an opaque
surface to block the heat transfer. To prevent the leapfrog
effect using a spandrel design requires a vertical spandrel
dimension of approximately four and five feet in order to
match the performance, respectively, of one and two hour
fire rated floors (Shriver 2006). The construction of the
spandrel can be an important factor to the performance of
the perimeter fire barrier system. Typical aluminum
framed curtain walls using spandrel glass require that the
glass be appropriately insulated using mineral wool rather
than fiberglass based insulations that will melt.
Additionally, the aluminum mullions require insulation
protection, otherwise the aluminum frame will melt and
no longer support the wall system. These measures will
help keep the glass spandrel panel and any associated fire
barrier system intact. Precast panels offer the advantage
of high resistance to heat exposure and offer a solid rigid
surface for securely positioning or compression fitting a
perimeter fire barrier system into the void between the
precast panel and the floor slab edge. Metal curtain wall
panels or metal back pans that, when subjected to the fire
heat, may warp or distort allowing gaps to develop at the
perimeter fire barrier system, and specific measures may
be needed to stiffen the metal pans.
Glass used in curtain wall assemblies may be one
of several types – float glass which may be heat
strengthened or tempered glass, and laminated or wired
glass. Vision glass can be single, double or triple glazed,
and are typically assembled into an insulating glass unit
(IGU). Vision glass may also be tinted to provide a heat
absorbing quality, or coated to provide a heat reflective
capability. All of these features can impact the
performance of glass under fire exposure, however, very
little is currently known about the fire performance of the
wide variety of IGUs that are possible. What we do know
about glass performance is limited to standard single
glazed assemblies and, recently, some information on
double glazed units has been presented.
Small scale tests (Kim, Lougheed 1990) have
shown that plain float glass exposed to radiation at 10
kW/m
2
and 40 kW/m
2
in glass broke at temperatures of
150-175C within eight minutes and one minute
respectively. In these same tests, heat strengthened and
tempered glass survived 43 kW/m
2
for 20 minutes
without breaking while reaching temperatures of 350C.
Additional small scale tests (Mowrer 1998) showed that
single glazed windows failed in the range of 40 to 50
kW/m
2
, noting that 33 kW/m
2
appeared to be a level
below which failure did not occur.
Of course, the ignition of materials on the
unexposed side of a window is of key importance. It is
important to know what quantity of radiation will be
transmitted through a glass layer to combustible materials
on the unexposed side, given that 10 – 40 kW/m
2
can
ignite materials in the range of lightweight fabric
materials to common cellulosics (Deal 1995). Again,
the results of small scale tests have shown that a double
CTBUH 8th World Congress 2008 9
glazed assembly will absorb approximately 90% of the
thermal flux and is capable of reducing heat flux from
100 kW/m
2
to 8 kW/m
2
(unsprinklered conditions.) This
is significant only if the glass does not break and
maintains its integrity as a solid barrier. A recent study
(Shields, Silcock, Flood 2005) indicates that double
glazed systems exposed to heat fluxes as high as 25-170
kW/m
2
provided much better integrity than single glazed
systems. Tests using more fire resistant glass products
(Manzello, et al 2007), known as SAFTI Superlite II XL
and Superlite I, showed that single pane glass would fall
out of the frame at temperatures of 400-500C with
nearby heat fluxes measured at 50-70 kW/m
2
.
This brief summary of available data suggests
some limits of performance for glass breakage, fallout
and reduction of heat flux to combustible materials,
however, more testing to determine the performance of
large IGUs is needed to better understand these
fire-related performance metrics. It may be that actual
IGUs may show fire performance benefits not yet
understood, however, full installations with framing
elements, sealants and gaskets may play a key role –
positive or negative. Such full scale installations are not
known to have been tested to any degree that allows for
reasonable conclusions about installed performance.
Building geometry and exterior projections of the
curtain wall or building structural elements can have a
beneficial or negative effect on flame length extension
and heat flux exposure to curtain wall elements above the
fire compartment. This can be particularly important if
operable windows or ventilation openings are used. Of
course, any such opening can allow the unrestricted
passage of flames and hot gases from a fire on a floor
below into the floor above. The position of the window or
ventilation opening relative to the expected flame
extension is important in assessment of the leapfrog risk.
Risk Assessment Factors
Several factors to consider in a risk assessment of
leapfrog fire spread at the building façade include, but
may not be limited to, the following:
x Automatic Sprinkler Systems’ reliability
x Fire Department/Brigade response capabilities
x Building height
x Building occupancy considerations – e.g., office,
residential, hospitals, mercantile
x Building compartmentation features
x Building evacuation strategies
x Fire hazard – fuel loads, continuity of
combustibles, compartment sizes
x Security threat assessment scenarios
Sprinklered high-rise buildings have a very
successful record of life safety and property protection
performance. For this reason, the IBC and NFPA 5000 do
not require fire resistance rated spandrels or flame
deflectors at the building façade in fully sprinklered
buildings. There are many sources in the literature that
review this successful record, however, significant
reliance on sprinkler systems becomes exceedingly more
critical for super high-rises. As the height of buildings
increase, so does the complexity of sprinkler systems
with an integrated network of piping zones, valves,
pumps, power supplies, and water supply tanks. Many
components are required to be operational and operated
properly for the sprinkler system’s success. Sprinkler
system maintenance can be a major maintenance activity
for today’s super high-rise buildings and is key to
successful performance. A recent analysis (Hall 2006) of
data from the National Fire Incident Reporting System
(U.S. data) indicates that for all building types, sprinklers
failed to operate in 7% of structure fires. The identified
reasons for these failures were 65% of the systems were
shut off, 16% were defeated by manual intervention, 11%
were due to lack of maintenance, 5% of the systems were
the wrong type, and 3% were due to damaged system
components. These failure rates may or may not be
applicable to new super high-rise buildings, but it is
important to note that human error is the primary factor.
Consequently, it is important for buildings with complex
sprinkler system design to have features and redundancies
that can overt issues of human error and maximize
sprinkler system reliability.
Sprinkler system designs can be enhanced to
improve the reliability. Gravity feed systems that do not
rely solely on electric pumps and emergency power
supplies can assure that natural pressures are available to
supply sprinklers. Also, piping schemes that use riser
cross connections or feeds from alternate floors can
provide additional assurances that a single closed valve
does not negate sprinkler water flow. Electrical
supervision of valves and other sprinkler components has
long been recognized to be a most important feature to
monitor sprinkler operational status. The value of
sprinklers was observed in the One Meridian Plaza
incident where ten sprinklers supplied by fire department
pumpers are reported to have stopped fire spread after
burning for 19 hours. If buildings’ sprinkler systems can
be designed so that successive floors cannot be turned off
with a single valve, then a significant level of redundancy
to protect against leapfrog can be maintained.
Fire department response capabilities need to factor
into the leapfrog analysis for super high-rise buildings.
Prior incidents in unsprinklered buildings demonstrate the
difficulty that large, capable fire departments may have
for buildings 60 stories or less in height. Consider that
many of the new class of high-rise buildings will double
or triple this height. An important question in this regard
is, “Does the local fire department have the response
capabilities and response plan to handle an unsprinklered
fire in a super high-rise building?” If the answer is
“no,” then, again, great reliance is shifted to the
automatic sprinkler system.
CTBUH 8th World Congress 2008 l0
Several basic building features and occupancy
considerations that may impact the assessment of
leapfrog risk are:
x Assembly occupancies - have large and
potentially dense population of occupants. Often
these occupancies are found at the very top
levels of super high-rise buildings.
x High-rise residential – sleeping occupants in
buildings generally of high degree of fire
resistive construction and floor-to-floor
compartmentation (except for the façade). The
defend-in-place concept has been used in
apartment buildings of fire-resistive construction,
where it can be safer to remain in the apartment
than to attempt evacuation. If the
defend-in-place concept is to be viable for the
wide variety of possible fire scenarios, then the
leapfrog issue needs to be addressed. Human
behavior has been, on several occasions, cited as
playing a major role in the fatalities and injuries
in high-rise residential buildings (Macdonald
1985, Proulx 1996) Both authors' works have
seriously questioned the appropriateness of
evacuation of high-rise residential buildings,
including hotels. Frequently, occupants who
stayed in their apartments or hotel rooms were
safe and uninjured, while those who evacuated
became casualties. In an unsprinklered super
high-rise fire scenario, maintaining safe floor
areas (safe from leapfrog effect) for residential
occupancies could be a critical need.
x Hospital facilities – these are facilities in which
occupants can be expected to require assistance
from staff and are physically not capable of
relocating down stairs or to the building exterior.
This may be the most critical situation that
deserves consideration of the leapfrog risk.
Horizontal exits, where a floor is subdivided into
two fire areas, are often used in hospital
facilities and can be a mitigating factor in the
risk assessment for hospitals or other occupancy
groups.
x Super tall buildings – buildings with large
occupant loads and long total evacuation times
(e.g. >1 hour). In an unsprinklered super
high-rise fire scenario, fire spread by vertical
means, whether exterior or interior, may
unnecessarily subject large numbers occupants
to adverse conditions from a single fire event.
The relative fire hazard of various occupancies can
present varying levels of concern in assessment of
leapfrog risk. Residential occupancies are generally
well compartmented units. In the event of a sprinkler
failure and fire spread to a residential unit on the floor
above, it should be recognized that the fire would not
propagate readily due to the fire-resistive enclosure walls
of apartment units. Note that this generally assumes
vertical stacking of units. Conversely, in a retail or office
occupancy, there is far less subdivision to provide passive
fire containment, increasing the risk of fire spread.
Security threat assessment scenarios should
consider the impact of any damage scenarios on the
performance of the buildings fire protection features and,
specifically the sprinkler systems. The survivability of
sprinkler system features and water supplies may be
critical to prevent a major fire spread event that results
from a security threat scenario.
Conclusion
Our understanding of fire and its mechanisms of
spread in buildings no longer eludes us, however, the
risks of fire spread related to super high-rise buildings
and the facades that define their character has not been
well examined. Current code practices recognize the
successful record of fully sprinkler protected high-rise
buildings and only require that the void space between
the curtain wall and the floor slab be resistive to fire
spread using a perimeter fire barrier system. These
curtain wall code allowances are key to providing
architects with the design freedom to design unique and
creative facades. However, the rating systems used by
testing laboratories has created confusion about what type
of a perimeter fire barrier system and associated curtain
wall system is appropriate.
This paper has attempted to explain the laboratories’
rating systems and the expected performance for tested
curtain wall designs. The rating systems focus narrowly
(yet appropriately) on the fire testing of specific
assemblies that are not necessarily consistent with the
goals of the architect, yet the larger concern is the
associated risk of the fire leapfrog effect for super
high-rise buildings. A review of the history of significant
unsprinklered high-rise fire losses where the leapfrog
effect was evident shows that the hazard is real and can
be catastrophic. Key factors that impact a curtain wall’s
fire resistance are outlined and can be useful if there is a
need to provide enhanced protection or evaluate a curtain
wall assembly’s potential performance when subject to
uncontrolled heat/flame exposure. The most important
concept is that the risk for super high-rise buildings
requires the consideration of several factors that include
the engineering design of the sprinkler systems, fire
department response capabilities, the occupancies and
associated fire loads, the building’s evacuation approach,
compartmentation features, and security threat
assessment scenarios. With appropriate consideration and
evaluation of these risk factors, it should be possible to
select a curtain wall design that meets both aesthetic
goals and fire safety objectives of a super high-rise
building.
CTBUH 8th World Congress 2008 ll
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The glass broke out under this exposure.5 ft) above the top of the window. In this paper. From a fire dynamics perspective. More importantly. The code provisions and current test standards applicable to perimeter fire barrier systems (installed between the façade and slab edge) will be reviewed including discussion of why developing standards may jeopardize architects’ creative designs in the future.  CTBUH 8th World Congress 2008 . curtain wall fire testing work done in the1990’s and the continuing testing efforts of product manufacturers and testing laboratories. The hot gases from the fire room window measured 400-600°C (750°-1. wrapped to the structural frame beneath. Deerfield. it is often the goal of skyscraper architecture to define a personality or individual character through the design of any skyscraper’s façade. One test of Yokoi’s was a test room with plywood walls/ceilings and a fire load of 40kg/m2 (8 lb/ft2). Mechanisms of Fire Spread Our understanding of the mechanisms of floor-to-floor fire spread at the curtain wall have been established by the work of fire researchers and fire engineers dating back to the 1960’s-70’s.750mm (5.Building Façade or Fire Safety Façade? Daniel J. FSFPE Schirmer Engineering Corporation. Indeed. the mechanisms of fire spread at the façade and the recognized fire safety considerations will be reviewed. curtain wall. In recent decades the desire for taller structures and. poses new concerns for the newest class of super high-rise structures. 707 Lake Cook Road. the mechanisms of fire spread at the façade and the recognized fire safety considerations will be reviewed. In 2005 at the 7th World Congress of the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH) many unique designs were showcased with twisted facades.75 ft. This paper will outline the list of risk factors that may influence issues of curtain wall fire safety design and discuss what building systems and features can factor into an analysis to validate a given curtain wall’s design details. high-rise. is reason to review the fire safety issues related to façade or curtain wall design. which is characteristic of residential occupancies and at the lower end of the fire load scale. IL 60015 Abstract In this paper. where two glazed walls are separated by distances of less than a meter are being implemented. Additionally. as architects develop new and leading edge creative curtain wall designs. a trip to any library to browse the many books on high-rise architecture or skyscrapers provides us with page after page of photographs of hundreds of towering structures. reliability of sprinkler systems and associated water supplies. The risk of fire spread through articulated elements of the façade or vertically around the facade via the mechanism of flame leap. particularly. it becomes more critical to consider the risk factors that can impact the building’s overall level of fire safety.) above the top edge of the fire room window. The code provisions and current test standards applicable to perimeter fire barrier systems (installed between the façade and slab edge) will be reviewed including discussion of why developing standards may jeopardize architects’ creative designs in the future. instilling a sense of grandeur as if each new skyscraper were an artist’s sculpture. These twisted façade designs.. each with a face and personality as unique as the architects and engineers that imagined and designed each tower. it becomes more critical to consider the risk factors that can impact the building’s overall level of fire safety. leapfrog Introduction Visually. categorized as tordos or twisters (Vollers 2005). and the characteristics of the building and building’s occupants. This paper will outline the list of risk factors that may influence issues of curtain wall fire safety design and discuss what building systems and features can factor into an analysis to validate a given curtain wall’s design details. More importantly. Keywords: façade. Double curtain wall systems. fire spread. due to the creativity of architects. double skin designs and other new facade creations this author has encountered pose new challenges from a fire engineering perspective. we know that flames emitting from an exterior window can extend higher than 5m (16. new and unique façade designs are continually appearing. is often key to an architect’s desire to evoke our emotions. O’Connor P.E.112°F) at 1. often using curved surfaces and rotated floor plates that complicate the façade connections and hidden details of fire barrier assemblies. those that are competing for recognition to be among the tallest. Yokoi reported such results in 1960. This face or skin. These unique designs veer from the more traditional continuous vertical façade surfaces of the past. as architects develop new and leading edge creative curtain wall designs. if not the world’s tallest. The concerns revolve around the issues of fire department response capabilities.

Ove Arup & Partners was commissioned to develop a number of correlations to estimate flame projections and flame temperatures under natural or forced draft conditions (Law and O’Brien 1975). CTBUH 8th World Congress 2008  . We know from this work that the fire flame projection and temperature profile will be a factor of window area and height. The result is a flame projecting out and upward from the window. Exterior curtain wall and floor fire exposure mechanisms. which corresponds to the flame no longer appearing luminous. Outside – Flames projecting from fire-broken glazing or other openings radiate heat to and through glazed surfaces or through other openings to building contents and furnishings.000°F).Analysis of 400 fire compartment experiments (Thomas and Heselden 1972) helped to more fully explain the physical phenomena of ventilation controlled fires. Figure 3 illustrates how the deflection of the flame by a horizontal projection reduces the heat transferred to the wall above the burning compartment. Impact of horizontal and vertical projections on window plume. (Oleszkiewicz Nov.1990. our knowledge of fire dynamics allows us to understand how the building interior areas and curtain wall can be attacked by fire in three principal ways. 366) Figure 1. From a visual perspective. Such ventilation controlled fires representing the scenario where a fire burning in a building breaks the window glazing. permitting hot gases to flow out the top portion of the opening. In review. p. A portion of the hot gases are unable to burn inside the room due to limited air (ventilation controlled) but. and wind velocity. Taking the data of various researchers. can impact the flame projection and associated corrective and radiation heat exposure to the façade. are due to the structural floor plate changes. encounter sufficient air entrainment. The increase in heat flux with vertical projections installed is due to the restriction of lateral air entrainment. flame extension is estimated at the point that flame temperature drops below 540°C (1. Figure 2. fuel contents and burning rate. impinge on the curtain wall exterior face (convection). Fire Technology. Figure 1 illustrates the potential temperature and heat flux characteristics of a fully developed. allowing the hot fuel gases to burn outside the building. which perhaps. which forces a lengthening of the gas plume as it seeks to entrain more air for combustion. the vertical projections increase the heat transfer to the wall. unsprinklered compartment fire. This work also showed that vertical exterior elements could have a negative impact by increasing the vertical projection of flames along a façade. Conversely. Figure 2 illustrates the change in fire flame position and extension due to a horizontal projection above a window and vertical panels located at each side of a window. upon movement to the exterior. 2007) The three principal mechanisms at work in Figure 1 are as follows: Inside – Flames and fire gases in the building attack the interior surfaces and details of the curtain wall and associated perimeter fire barrier materials. showed the extent to which horizontal projection above flames issuing from a window below can be effective at reducing the flame exposure. room geometry. (Schirmer Engineering. Work done at the National Research Council of Canada (Oleszkiewicz 1990-91). The exterior building architectural features incorporated as elements of the façade or. Outside – Flames and hot gases projecting from fire-broken glazing or other openings directly In terms of hazard reduction or increase.

3.3m (1 ft) horizontal projection at 1m above the opening. For example. The data is normalized to readings taken at 1m above the opening with no horizontal deflector.3 ft) were compared to the case of flames issued out the window along a vertical wall with no projections. This is a critical assumption that deserves further consideration in the context of super high-rise buildings and is discussed in detail later. given that the floor slab is continuous to or extends past the building envelope. heat flux ranged from approximately 50 kw/m2 to 100 kw/m2.6. Background on Current Code Practices Today’s codes such as the 2007 International Building Code and the National Fire Protection Association’s 2006 Building Construction and Safety Code (NFPA 5000) recognize that with a properly designed and operational sprinkler system.3. Decrease and increase of heat transfer for horizontal and vertical projections on window plume. The most basic approach is for the curtain wall to be supported directly on the structural floor slab edge.2 ft) high spandrel. which precludes any gap or joint condition.0m. but it is not the most common approach for the installation and support of curtain walls. 6. Technology. 3m (3. there are currently two basic ways to provide a code complying curtain wall design in fully sprinklered buildings. 60% and 85% respectively for projections of 0. 10.5ft) and fires on the order of 6MW. This type of installation would permit floor-to-floor glazed curtain wall assemblies in fully sprinklered buildings as shown in Figure 5.1990. Heat flux (connective + radiative) measurements taken at 1m. as indicated in Figure 4 at the 1m height. Achieving a 50% decrease in heat flux exposure via a vertical spandrel panel in this same test server would require a 2. p.8 ft) above the top of the window showed a significant decrease in heat flux with horizontal flame deflectors in place.6m width and 1. Figure 5. Fire Figure 4. The second approach is applicable when the curtain wall  CTBUH 8th World Congress 2008 . 0. By comparison. total heat flux was reduced by approximately 55%. (Schirmer Engineering. at the 1m height above the window opening. 0. and 3. 0. 2007) This approach is sometimes observed in high-rise building design.0m (approximately 1. These reductions show the effectiveness of a horizontal projection. Horizontal projections of 0. Oleszkiewicz noted that a vertical spandrel wall was not found to be a practical means of protection against flames issuing from an opening. From a fire containment perspective. Curtain wall supported on Slab edge.37m high (8. 339) Oleszkiewicz conducted propane fueled experiments in a three-story high facility using a window of 2.0m horizontal flame deflectors.6 and 1. Fire Technology.1991. p. It is noted that the same performance in heat flux reduction was achieved with the 0.5 ft x 4. Heat transfer comparison of exposures for 0.6 and 1. the threat of fire spread along the exterior of the curtain wall is effectively mitigated. 2m. However.6 and 1. 367) (Oleszkiewicz Nov.3.5m (8.3.Figure 3. (Oleszkiewicz Nov. 2.

The F-rating is expressed in hours (e. Curtain wall hung off Slab edge. NFPA 5000 8. such that a void space results between the floor system and the curtain wall assembly as shown in Figure 6. or a temperature rise of 139C (250F) for averaged thermocouple points (required for wide voids). UL additionally evaluates if there is any flame passage or surface flaming on the interior surface of the curtain wall assembly above the fill materials. A T-rating is expressed in hours for perimeter fire barrier systems that do not show a temperature rise of 181C (325F) for any individual thermocouple. the former being the original performance intent statement which evolved into the more recent and formally defined ASTM Standard.3).) or less above the fill materials perimeter fire barrier system.) It is important to understand these ratings and the purpose behind each rating. there is confusion in the building industry among design architects and fire T-Rating: A T-rating evaluates the extent of temperature increase on the non-fire side of the perimeter fire barrier system. the glazing above the fire exposed floor is monitored to determine when the glazing breaks.4mm (1 in.4. F-Rating: An F-rating evaluates the most fundamental function of a perimeter fire barrier system.9.assembly is positioned just outside the edge of a fire rated floor system. The intent of monitoring the glazing integrity is to identify how long in hours the curtain wall glazing will CTBUH 8th World Congress 2008  . ¼ and ½ hour. Figure 6. The methodology for compliance with either the criteria of item 1 above or item 2 is essentially the same. T-ratings are typically in on the order of 0. This is testing the ability of the perimeter fire barrier system to maintain fire resistance in the void space between the interior surface of the curtain wall assembly and the floor slab edge. This requires some form of a joint system or what today are called “perimeter fire barrier systems. an Integrity Rating and an Insulation Rating. Integrity Rating: This rating provided under the UL certification process is similar to the F-Rating per the ASTM E2307 procedure. However. 2007) (Schirmer Engineering. the systems certified by UL are measured in four aspects – an F-Rating. Underwriters Laboratories (UL) certifies perimeter fire barrier systems under the product category “Perimeter Fire Barrier Containment Systems”. This is in contrast to the F-rating which is the only requirement stipulated by the 2006 IBC and NFPA 5000 (per code change proposal.” The basic performance criterion for these perimeter fire barrier systems is either one of the following: 1. a T-Rating. however. “Standard Test Method for Determining Fire Resistance of Perimeter Fire Barrier Systems Using Intermediate-Scale Multi-Story Test Apparatus”. ¼ and ½ hour. or 2. Insulation ratings are typically in on the order of 0. This is intended to determine if fire can spread to a floor above through the curtain wall construction and not just the fill material of the perimeter fire barrier system. The temperature measurements are taken at a point 25. Insulation Rating: This rating provided under the UL certification process is similar to the T-Rating per the ASTM E2307 procedure. In addition. engineers resulting from differences in the rating criteria imposed by various testing laboratories. 2 hours) for comparison to the fire resistance rating of an associated floor assembly. The noted codes require that the void space at the slab edge in Figure 6 be sealed with an approved material or system to prevent the interior spread of fire (IBC 713.g. Although a defined ASTM Standard does exist. The systems certified by UL use the same two-story large scale fire test apparatus as are described in the ASTM E2307 Standard. Such material or systems are to be tested in accordance with ASTM E2307. Such material or systems shall be securely installed and capable of preventing the passage of flame and hot gases sufficient to ignite cotton waste where subject to ASTM E119 time-temp fire conditions for a time period equal to the fire resistance of the floor assembly. however. UL additionally evaluates the temperature rise on the unexposed interior surface of the curtain wall assembly above the fill materials. The F-rating is given if the vertical passage of flame and hot gases sufficient to ignite a cotton pad is prevented by the perimeter fire barrier system. The ASTM E2307 Standard requires the reporting of an F-Rating and a T-Rating.

Chicago. In 1972 this fire occurred on the 4th floor of the department store. The fire gutted most areas of the building. The heat from exposing flames ignited combustible ceiling tiles and wood partitions on each floor. forming a flame front that exposed three or four floors above the department store. flames broke out the north side on all four floors. The fire developed on the four floors of the department store and then spread externally up the side of the building. and caused damage to the 95th through 97th stories. From the 4th and 5th floors. This is generally the case for fully glazed curtain wall systems that incorporate glazed insulated spandrel panels. The 8th to 31st floors were office use. This lack of such capable perimeter fire barrier systems poses a challenge to curtain wall designers/architects who wish to create façades using expansive vision glass panels. The F-Rating and Integrity Rating are sometimes interrelated in that a perimeter fire barrier system will not be capable of achieving an F-Rating if the curtain wall does not maintain integrity and allows the perimeter fire barrier system to become dislocated or displaced during the fire test. a serious fire probably would have developed. One-half-inch plate glass windows in aluminum mullions extend from the floor to the ceiling. Fire department response involved 28 pumpers. Sao Paulo. (Willey 1972): This building was a department store occupying the basement and seven stories above grade. Fire entered the 97th story through the window. involving another 24 floors. the fire spread up the open stairs to involve the 6th and 7th floors. The issue of performance expectations of non-fire rated curtain walls and the associated perimeter fire barrier assembly has been a significant item of discussion in the United States. The floors throughout were of poured concrete. Given that the 2006 IBC and NFPA 5000 codes only require the void at the intersection of the curtain wall and the floor assembly be protected with fire barrier fill materials. some exterior aluminum skin near them melted. Because the sides of the building taper toward the top and because there was very little wind that morning. 31 stories. The following summaries are based on information extracted from the noted references: John Hancock Center. as did some of the mullions. At the firefighters arrival. floor-to-floor glazed openings. breaking glass slid down the side of the building instead of falling freely or flying around. There are no formally published tested perimeter fire barrier systems that allow for floor-to floor height vision glazing. Very little combustible material in the 97th story was a major reason the damage from this fire was not much greater. high) that was integral with the concrete floor slab. As a result of recent code changes is it reported (Koffel 2005) that the code intent is to recognize that if the curtain wall assembly does not have the same fire resistive capability of the floor slab. the extent of the failed glazing may raise concerns for flames readily entering adjacent spaces above. Loss History The threat of floor-to-floor fire spread at the exterior façade of any building is real and confirmed via actual unsprinklered high-rise building fires. This is mostly an artifact of the nature of compression fit type fire barrier methods and their integration with fully glazed curtain walls. As heat broke window glass. Approximately 300 people fled to the roof top heliport and eventually rescued by helicopters. Under these conditions. The failure mode for such assemblies occurs if the spandrel glazing and framing members are not sufficiently insulated. Illinois. The estimated time for full involvement of the façade after flame had emerged from the department store floors was 15 minutes. Andraus Building. A total of 16 fatalities resulted. USA. 100 stories (Peterson 1973): In 1972 this fire started on the 96th story in an unsprinklered two-level cocktail lounge.2 in. there is often confusion. resisting the fire leapfrog that has been observed to occur in multi-story buildings. the fire had broken windows on the 96th floor. then the system protecting the void space need not perform after curtain wall integrity is lost. with more combustible materials near the windows. and four aerial ladders. Yet. The fire burned for about an hour and 20 minutes. and burning fire gases were pushing out of the openings. Investigators noted that had there been a different occupancy on the 97th floor.  CTBUH 8th World Congress 2008 . Brazil. A number of incidents have been identified in the literature (Shriver 2006. The building façade had extensive floor-to-ceiling areas of ¼-inch plate glass set in steel frames supported on a concrete spandrel (14. numerous tank trucks. If a tested perimeter fire barrier system could be shown to stay in-place in the void after the glazing failed. then code compliance would be achieved. outer skin was of glass set in aluminum mullions with a ¼-inch-thick aluminum skin over the steel beams and columns on the exterior of the building. This has often resulted in confusion and frustration for architects desiring to use full height.survive. but was confined to some combustibles on a test bench. Every other section of windows was operable. Windows along approximately 60 feet of the 96th story were cracked or broken. Belles 1986). the perimeter fire barrier system fill materials will fall out of place when the glazing panel and associated insulation fail to maintain a compression fit with the fill materials of the perimeter fire barrier system.

Firefighting was abandoned after 11 hours due to risk of structural collapse. 30 stories (Klem 1991): In 1991 this fire started on the 22nd floor in a vacant office in a pile of linseed-soaked rags. with no apparent evidence of combustible material. a significant portion of the floor was involved in flame. Fire attack was hampered by heavy smoke. CA. and 2-feet-9-inhes above it. There were no sprinklers in the building up to the 30th floor. were trapped in their rooms by the fire. Exterior vertical fire spread occurred as a result of exterior window breakage. 32 stories. It burned for more than 19 hours. Philadelphia. Both horizontal and vertical aluminum sun screens were attached to the exterior of the building. Las Vegas. There were three firefighter fatalities. and by the time the fire department arrived. In contrast many of today’s super high-rise buildings will not have an accessible roof to facilitate occupant rescue operations. A 3-inch void between the floor slab and the exterior aluminum and glass curtain wall was filled with thermal insulating material extending approximately 18 in. 1. and the fire was quite large from the very beginning. The insulation below the floor deck was open to a ceiling return air plenum. Gypsum board enclosed the safing material above the floor slab. 56-story office building: In 2004 this fire started on the 34th floor and eventually extended all the way to the top of the 56-story building. 62-story office building (Klem 1988): In 1988 this fire started on an office floor. Venezuela. Occupants evacuated the building by way of the stairway. The Las Vegas Hilton. Parque Central. The building was unoccupied. The fire was knocked down approximately one hour and 30 minutes after the initial alarm. USA. and gypsum wallboard on steel stud. The fire caused eight fatalities and approximately 350 injuries. USA. A flammable liquid was used. above and below the floor slab. The window was of tempered glass. complete failure of the building’s electrical system. In two cases. three 3-foot-by-6-foot windows of double-strength plate glass created a large glass area 6 feet by 9 feet. CTBUH 8th World Congress 2008  . or waited out the fire in their rooms. and this was the cited primary means of fire spread. 2. Los Angeles. The glass was recessed 18 inches and was separated vertically by a 3-1/2-foot spandrel. Pumps and standpipe systems apparently were not working. About 40 persons were in the building. There were no functioning sprinkler systems. the fire departments abandoned their efforts due to fears of structural collapse. six ladders. One Merdian Plaza and Parque Central. Broken glass falling from the building was reported to have hit the ground at distances up to 70 feet from the building. After the eighth floor become involved. completely consuming eight floors. The fire progressed vertically up the exterior of the building. First Interstate Bank Building. (Lathrop 1977): In 1976 this fire was of incendiary origin on the 20th floor of a non-sprinklered building. In several incidents occupants fled to the roof of the building to be rescued by helicopters. floor by floor. PA. and then spread externally to the 21st floor.Occidental Center Tower. Los Angeles. Photographs show evidence of fire spread along the exterior façade. where ten sprinklers supplied by fire department pumpers are reported to have stopped fire spread. Fire damaged approximately 60% of the floor of fire origin. Fire extended to four floors before being contained after 3-1/2 hours. Fire spread from the 8th floor to the 30th floor vertically. USA. One Meridian Plaza. 30 stories (Demers 1982): In 1981 this fire occurred on the 8th floor in the vicinity of the East Tower elevator lobby. Several observations are apparent upon review of these seven incidents and which point to fire risk assessment considerations. but three employees and up to about 25 firefighters were injured. Many people encountered smoke in the stairway. and 12 helicopters were utilized during the firefighting and rescue operations. The building was being retrofitted with sprinklers. Caracas. The window opening was approximately 71 inches high. The fire department with 64 fire companies and 383 fire fighters made a stand on the not-yet-involved 16th floor and was able to stop further spread. Large fire department manpower and apparatus response was observed in six of the seven incidents. and inadequate water pressure. A total of 23 engines. nine rescue units. Some people in the stairway were able to get to the roof and were rescued by helicopters. set on the concrete slab. The spandrel was prefabricated assembly of masonry. but the system was not operational at the time of the fire. Only building staff were in the building at the time of the fire. two snorkels. it is estimated that the vertical exterior spread took 20 to 25 minutes to reach the top of the 30-story building. USA. especially in the East Tower east interior stairway. The fire department rescued two from the 37th floor and one from the 50th. The exterior of the building was covered by granite curtain wall panels with glass windows attached to the perimeter floor girders and spandrels. East Tower. A total firefighting force of approximately 300 men were utilized in suppressing the fire. On the exterior wall of elevator lobbies. and 24 were injured. destroying approximately 10% of that floor. plaster. The exterior curtain wall consisted of glazed terrazzo tile extending 4-feet-3-inches below the floor line. Firefighters backed by helicopters and troops battled the blaze for 12 hours before abandoning the effort due to fear of structural collapse. NV. CA. two air cascade units.

All of these features can impact the performance of glass under fire exposure. and specific measures may be needed to stiffen the metal pans. 2 of 32 stories.g. spandrel panels) Height of spandrel panels Vertical or horizontal projections on exterior that may deflect or enhance flame behavior Building geometry at curtain wall – twister. it can be expected that vision glass failure will occur within minutes. Again. framing. Glass used in curtain wall assemblies may be one of several types – float glass which may be heat strengthened or tempered glass. Additional small scale tests (Mowrer 1998) showed that single glazed windows failed in the range of 40 to 50 kW/m2. and 23 of 56 stories respectively for the seven incidents. given that 10 – 40 kW/m2 can ignite materials in the range of lightweight fabric materials to common cellulosics (Deal 1995). Precast panels offer the advantage of high resistance to heat exposure and offer a solid rigid surface for securely positioning or compression fitting a perimeter fire barrier system into the void between the precast panel and the floor slab edge. The number of floors involved was 3 of 100 stories. A spandrel panel design will limit the flame extension and reduce heat flux to the areas above by providing an opaque surface to block the heat transfer. 4. double or triple glazed. and anchors or connectors of steel or aluminum. sloped. vertical or horizontal orientation Ability of perimeter fire barrier system to remain in void during fire exposure When full height vision glass systems are used. It is important to know what quantity of radiation will be transmitted through a glass layer to combustible materials on the unexposed side. 28 of 31 stories. vision glass. very little is currently known about the fire performance of the wide variety of IGUs that are possible. 23 of 30 stories. the various curtain wall components and any perimeter fire barrier system are then subject to thermal forces and degradation that can result in fire spread to the floor above. noting that 33 kW/m2 appeared to be a level below which failure did not occur. Once the failure occurs and flames are extending to the exterior. The value of sprinklers was observed in the One Meridian Plaza incident where ten sprinklers supplied by fire department pumpers are reported to have stopped fire spread. recently. Vision glass may also be tinted to provide a heat absorbing quality. 8 of 30 stories. It is reported(Klem 1991) that the sprinklers activated as a result of heat transmission via broken windows and through the void space that existed between the floor slab and exterior granite façade. Of course. Typical aluminum framed curtain walls using spandrel glass require that the glass be appropriately insulated using mineral wool rather than fiberglass based insulations that will melt. Metal curtain wall panels or metal back pans that. These measures will help keep the glass spandrel panel and any associated fire barrier system intact. the results of small scale tests have shown that a double  CTBUH 8th World Congress 2008 . otherwise the aluminum frame will melt and no longer support the wall system. sprinkler system out of service or failure scenario) bordered by a building’s curtain wall system. and are typically assembled into an insulating glass unit (IGU). Fire spread was attributable to broken windows and flame extension along the exterior facades. however. etc. staggered. Operable windows/openings – size. sealants. flame extension and heat fluxes to the window areas above can be expected to be greater than that expected for curtain walls using a spandrel panel design. the aluminum mullions require insulation protection. the ignition of materials on the unexposed side of a window is of key importance. Curtain Wall Components – Performance Factors Curtain walls are a relatively complex combination of components that include aluminum frames. when subjected to the fire heat. and laminated or wired glass. The construction of the spandrel can be an important factor to the performance of the perimeter fire barrier system. metal back pans. To prevent the leapfrog effect using a spandrel design requires a vertical spandrel dimension of approximately four and five feet in order to match the performance. 4 of 62 stories. as well as. respectively. Lougheed 1990) have shown that plain float glass exposed to radiation at 10 kW/m2 and 40 kW/m2 in glass broke at temperatures of 150-175C within eight minutes and one minute respectively. Additionally.e. heat strengthened and tempered glass survived 43 kW/m2 for 20 minutes without breaking while reaching temperatures of 350C. As combustibles ignited at multiple locations the sprinklers operated and extinguished the fires.e. Given a fully developed fire exposure in a room or space (i. In these same tests.3. may warp or distort allowing gaps to develop at the perimeter fire barrier system. spandrel panel design) vision glass systems Nature of the glass used to construct glazing system Nature of the curtain wall components (e. Vision glass can be single. gaskets. The nature of the curtain wall design will dictate the relative capability to resist floor-to-floor fire spread. or coated to provide a heat reflective capability. spandrel panels of glass. some information on double glazed units has been presented. Key factors that impact the curtain wall’s resistance to vertical fire spread are as follows: Full height or partial height (i. metal or stone. insulation. heat conduction through the floor slab. Small scale tests (Kim. What we do know about glass performance is limited to standard single glazed assemblies and. of one and two hour fire rated floors (Shriver 2006).

et al 2007). sprinklers failed to operate in 7% of structure fires. Risk Assessment Factors Several factors to consider in a risk assessment of leapfrog fire spread at the building façade include. Many components are required to be operational and operated properly for the sprinkler system’s success. 16% were defeated by manual intervention. the following: Automatic Sprinkler Systems’ reliability Fire Department/Brigade response capabilities Building height Building occupancy considerations – e. data) indicates that for all building types. significant reliance on sprinkler systems becomes exceedingly more critical for super high-rises. great reliance is shifted to the automatic sprinkler system. It may be that actual IGUs may show fire performance benefits not yet understood. full installations with framing elements. Also. Of course. A recent study (Shields. hospitals. The identified reasons for these failures were 65% of the systems were shut off. “Does the local fire department have the response capabilities and response plan to handle an unsprinklered fire in a super high-rise building?” If the answer is “no. sealants and gaskets may play a key role – positive or negative. mercantile Building compartmentation features Building evacuation strategies Fire hazard – fuel loads. These failure rates may or may not be applicable to new super high-rise buildings. Silcock. There are many sources in the literature that review this successful record. Such full scale installations are not known to have been tested to any degree that allows for reasonable conclusions about installed performance. however. then a significant level of redundancy to protect against leapfrog can be maintained. Sprinkler system maintenance can be a major maintenance activity for today’s super high-rise buildings and is key to successful performance. residential. showed that single pane glass would fall out of the frame at temperatures of 400-500C with nearby heat fluxes measured at 50-70 kW/m2. it is important for buildings with complex sprinkler system design to have features and redundancies that can overt issues of human error and maximize sprinkler system reliability.S. A recent analysis (Hall 2006) of data from the National Fire Incident Reporting System (U. more testing to determine the performance of large IGUs is needed to better understand these fire-related performance metrics. continuity of combustibles. 11% were due to lack of maintenance. valves. the IBC and NFPA 5000 do not require fire resistance rated spandrels or flame deflectors at the building façade in fully sprinklered buildings. Tests using more fire resistant glass products (Manzello. known as SAFTI Superlite II XL and Superlite I. If buildings’ sprinkler systems can be designed so that successive floors cannot be turned off with a single valve. piping schemes that use riser cross connections or feeds from alternate floors can provide additional assurances that a single closed valve does not negate sprinkler water flow. but it is important to note that human error is the primary factor. again. Consequently. power supplies.. This brief summary of available data suggests some limits of performance for glass breakage. compartment sizes Security threat assessment scenarios Sprinklered high-rise buildings have a very successful record of life safety and property protection performance. Building geometry and exterior projections of the curtain wall or building structural elements can have a beneficial or negative effect on flame length extension and heat flux exposure to curtain wall elements above the fire compartment. This can be particularly important if operable windows or ventilation openings are used. The position of the window or ventilation opening relative to the expected flame extension is important in assessment of the leapfrog risk. so does the complexity of sprinkler systems with an integrated network of piping zones. however. and water supply tanks. Gravity feed systems that do not rely solely on electric pumps and emergency power supplies can assure that natural pressures are available to supply sprinklers. capable fire departments may have for buildings 60 stories or less in height. Consider that many of the new class of high-rise buildings will double or triple this height. As the height of buildings increase.glazed assembly will absorb approximately 90% of the thermal flux and is capable of reducing heat flux from 100 kW/m2 to 8 kW/m2 (unsprinklered conditions.) This is significant only if the glass does not break and maintains its integrity as a solid barrier.g. and 3% were due to damaged system components. Prior incidents in unsprinklered buildings demonstrate the difficulty that large. any such opening can allow the unrestricted passage of flames and hot gases from a fire on a floor below into the floor above. Sprinkler system designs can be enhanced to improve the reliability. Fire department response capabilities need to factor into the leapfrog analysis for super high-rise buildings. An important question in this regard is. office.” then. but may not be limited to. however. fallout and reduction of heat flux to combustible materials. Electrical supervision of valves and other sprinkler components has long been recognized to be a most important feature to monitor sprinkler operational status. For this reason. CTBUH 8th World Congress 2008  . 5% of the systems were the wrong type. Flood 2005) indicates that double glazed systems exposed to heat fluxes as high as 25-170 kW/m2 provided much better integrity than single glazed systems. pumps. The value of sprinklers was observed in the One Meridian Plaza incident where ten sprinklers supplied by fire department pumpers are reported to have stopped fire spread after burning for 19 hours.

then the leapfrog issue needs to be addressed.have large and potentially dense population of occupants. Key factors that impact a curtain wall’s fire resistance are outlined and can be useful if there is a need to provide enhanced protection or evaluate a curtain wall assembly’s potential performance when subject to uncontrolled heat/flame exposure. compartmentation features. Proulx 1996) Both authors' works have seriously questioned the appropriateness of evacuation of high-rise residential buildings. where a floor is subdivided into two fire areas. The survivability of sprinkler system features and water supplies may be critical to prevent a major fire spread event that results from a security threat scenario. there is far less subdivision to provide passive fire containment. fire department response capabilities. yet the larger concern is the associated risk of the fire leapfrog effect for super high-rise buildings. The rating systems focus narrowly (yet appropriately) on the fire testing of specific assemblies that are not necessarily consistent with the goals of the architect. the occupancies and associated fire loads. Super tall buildings – buildings with large occupant loads and long total evacuation times (e. Human behavior has been. on several occasions. occupants who stayed in their apartments or hotel rooms were safe and uninjured. whether exterior or interior. increasing the risk of fire spread. The relative fire hazard of various occupancies can present varying levels of concern in assessment of leapfrog risk. it should be recognized that the fire would not propagate readily due to the fire-resistive enclosure walls of apartment units. Security threat assessment scenarios should consider the impact of any damage scenarios on the performance of the buildings fire protection features and. The defend-in-place concept has been used in apartment buildings of fire-resistive construction. Horizontal exits. 0 CTBUH 8th World Congress 2008 .Several basic building features and occupancy considerations that may impact the assessment of leapfrog risk are: Assembly occupancies . Conclusion Our understanding of fire and its mechanisms of spread in buildings no longer eludes us. The most important concept is that the risk for super high-rise buildings requires the consideration of several factors that include the engineering design of the sprinkler systems. >1 hour). while those who evacuated became casualties. maintaining safe floor areas (safe from leapfrog effect) for residential occupancies could be a critical need. A review of the history of significant unsprinklered high-rise fire losses where the leapfrog effect was evident shows that the hazard is real and can be catastrophic. the rating systems used by testing laboratories has created confusion about what type of a perimeter fire barrier system and associated curtain wall system is appropriate. These curtain wall code allowances are key to providing architects with the design freedom to design unique and creative facades. Residential occupancies are generally well compartmented units. With appropriate consideration and evaluation of these risk factors. where it can be safer to remain in the apartment than to attempt evacuation. specifically the sprinkler systems.g. in a retail or office occupancy. Current code practices recognize the successful record of fully sprinkler protected high-rise buildings and only require that the void space between the curtain wall and the floor slab be resistive to fire spread using a perimeter fire barrier system. This may be the most critical situation that deserves consideration of the leapfrog risk. Frequently. however. and security threat assessment scenarios. may unnecessarily subject large numbers occupants to adverse conditions from a single fire event. the risks of fire spread related to super high-rise buildings and the facades that define their character has not been well examined. This paper has attempted to explain the laboratories’ rating systems and the expected performance for tested curtain wall designs. High-rise residential – sleeping occupants in buildings generally of high degree of fire resistive construction and floor-to-floor compartmentation (except for the façade). are often used in hospital facilities and can be a mitigating factor in the risk assessment for hospitals or other occupancy groups. Often these occupancies are found at the very top levels of super high-rise buildings. including hotels. cited as playing a major role in the fatalities and injuries in high-rise residential buildings (Macdonald 1985. If the defend-in-place concept is to be viable for the wide variety of possible fire scenarios. In an unsprinklered super high-rise fire scenario. In the event of a sprinkler failure and fire spread to a residential unit on the floor above. the building’s evacuation approach. However. Hospital facilities – these are facilities in which occupants can be expected to require assistance from staff and are physically not capable of relocating down stairs or to the building exterior. Note that this generally assumes vertical stacking of units. Conversely. it should be possible to select a curtain wall design that meets both aesthetic goals and fire safety objectives of a super high-rise building. In an unsprinklered super high-rise fire scenario. fire spread by vertical means.

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