Fire & Explosion Effects

Why did it happen? Can it be fixed? How long will we be out of service? These are key questions faced by stakeholders after a fire or explosion event.

CTLGroup’s structural engineers, materials scientists, and analysts are equipped to evaluate the effects of thermal and pressure loads on a variety of systems and materials. Our experts work closely with our in-house laboratory staff to characterize thermal induced material changes and provide recommendations for repair. Working in tandem with chemical engineers and fire investigators we can assist with the determination of explosion origin and cause through the analysis of structural blast indicators which are used to estimate peak pressures achieved during blast events.

CTLGroup forensic engineers are experts in conducting thorough investigations of fire-affected structures as soon as it is safe to do so. Damage will be classified and areas exhibiting damage will be mapped. Cores will be taken from locations that exhibit the worst damage, intermediate damage, and no damage. Unaffected concrete and masonry provide useful references for the original condition of the structure.

Fire exposure can:

  • Decrease compressive strength of concrete
  • Decrease modulus of elasticity of steel reinforcing
  • Change the physical properties of concrete and aggregates
  • Damage concrete cover through spalling and cracking
  • Reduce fire resistivity

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Evaluating the Effects of Thermal and Pressure Loads

Laboratory
Petrographic examination is a vital part of fire damage investigation. It quick-ly reveals the extent of damage, assesses the condition of the remaining concrete, and determines the temperatures reached by the concrete at different depths. Engineers can use this information to focus additional sam-pling and to develop repairs.

Mechanical Testing
Compressive strength and modulus of elasticity determination are performed on suitable core samples to assess the residual engineering properties of the concrete. Metallurgical testing is conducted on lengths of exposed reinforce-ment or reinforcement embedded at depths determined to have been affect-ed by elevated temperatures. These tests provide vital information for the engineer to consider in repair design.

Specialized Consulting
Arson fires and insurance claims require careful documentation of each of the investigative steps described above. Critical field sampling may be conducted by a chemist. Laboratory testing for accelerants will involve specialized analytical techniques such as GC-MS, FTIR, and ICP.

Contact a CTLGroup fire and explosion investigation expert today by visiting www.ctlgroup.com/contact

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