A Combustible-Cladding Fire-Risk Analysis Case Study

Jeffrey Harper
Vice President
Jensen Hughes, Chicago

The sustainable growth of polycentric cities will necessarily include the reuse of existing building stock. Regardless of whether a city has been around for more than 100 years, like London or Chicago, or if it is relatively new, like Dubai, that city is likely to have a stock of buildings that were either built in the last 20 years, or which have experienced significant renovations in the past 20 years that may have included modification to some or all of the building façade. In the last 20 years, the world has seen several significant fires involving very tall buildings, in which one major form of fire spread involved combustible materials that may have been inappropriately used in the design and construction of the façade. A fire risk analysis can potentially assist in the determination of what quantity of the combustible façade materials should be removed.

The designers and planners of our future cities need to understand the impacts of the presence of combustible materials on the exterior of buildings that may be forming the nuclei of polycentric city neighborhoods. While removal and replacement of the combustible materials is the most prudent option, it is often not feasible. Fire-risk analysis can be an effective tool to systematically identify fire-related threats for the purposes of developing a mitigation strategy. This presentation includes a case study of the complexities associated with conducting a fire-risk analysis on a building having been partially clad in aluminum composite panels with a polyethylene core.

Accompanying PowerPoint Presentation