On Friday May 17th, six Providence Engineers-In-Training had the opportunity to travel to the National Fire Research Laboratory, located within the campus of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in Gaithersburg, Maryland.
Researchers at NIST are currently undertaking a series of tests to examine the performance of structural assemblies during, and after, a fire event. Existing testing methods typically examine independent components of an assembly on a small scale, but the newly expanded National Fire Research Laboratory allows researchers to study how entire office buildings, hospitals and bridges react to fire under controlled laboratory conditions. These larger-scale tests closely resemble many common construction scenarios.
Currently, NIST researchers are performing tests on cold-formed steel wall assemblies that are subjected to lateral loads (wind or earthquake loading) after a fire event. They are also evaluating composite-concrete floor assemblies that meet a two-hour fire rating. In Spring 2019, NIST researchers performed a fire test on a 40-foot-long composite beam, the largest span beam to be subjected to fire testing, comparable to ASTM E119 tests. More testing on these assemblies will be done in Fall 2019.
As part of the trip, NIST researchers highlighted their ongoing research efforts and the overall capabilities of the research facility. This work is helping to greatly strengthen the scientific basis for improved fire protection standards and new innovations in building materials and design.
Pictured (L to R) are Providence Engineers-In-Training Matthew Hoffman, Jared Patota, Aaron King, Mason Brandt, Derrick Matthews and Alex van Eeden.