Structural Fire Engineering

International team advances structural fire engineering

Our Performance-Based Philosophy

Holmes brings a customized approach to Structural Fire Engineering, a service that designs a structure to remain standing in the event of a fire. Structural Fire Engineering not only enhances life safety and property protection—it can unlock significant cost-savings and aesthetic benefits, too. From the get-go, we meet with project stakeholders to thoroughly understand a building’s performance goals relative to its specific context: its use, materials, architecture, jurisdiction and project budget. Although the brunt of the analysis falls on Holmes Fire’s fire engineers, Holmes Structures and Holmes Consulting’s structural engineers also contribute. The collaboration between these two disciplines often results in construction cost savings for our clients.

Each building is assessed on a case-by-case basis, on its own terms, to reach an optimum, tailored solution. Our approach deviates from traditional methods of designing structures for fire-resistance, which limit a structure’s response to fire within a contained furnace model. Rather, we analyze how a structure would perform in real-world scenarios with the heat turned up. A Performance-Based Engineering (PBE) approach allows us to assess a structure’s resilience in various configurations, leading to an optimum solution that achieves the required fire rating. By implementing state-of-the-art technology, we design real structures for real fires.

Our Team

We employ structural fire engineers internationally, many of whom hold specialized PhDs. Cumulatively, we represent vast knowledge and applications of Structural Fire Engineering in Australia, New Zealand, and the United States. Our staff authors technical research articles, sits on code committees for structural fire resistance, and presents at industry conferences. We also have the capability to tap structural engineers from Holmes Structures and Holmes Consulting for close-knit collaboration on in-depth structural analysis. Our fire engineers and structural engineers rub shoulders in several of our shared offices, allowing for the organic, spontaneous interchange of ideas and problem-solving.

Our Technologies

Since 2013, we’ve been utilizing non-linear analysis to achieve optimal structural fire solutions. Non-linear analysis allows us to closely examine the behavior of a given structure under realistic fire exposure, down to a singular connection detail. We run our analyses through SAFIR, a bespoke finite element software, to model the structural fire performance of the building in various configurations, providing intuitive visuals for our clients and building authorities. Through PBE, we demonstrate that our designs meet or exceed prescriptive building codes, standards and legislation—justifying highly-tailored performance solutions across jurisdictions.