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Steel, not concrete, to blame for collapse


Sir, I would like to respond to your March 31 report, 'Spanish tower fire sparks steel row'.

It is disingenuous to dismiss this obvious failure of the fire protected steel columns and beams as 'tenuous'. The Madrid Windsor tower had a reinforced concrete core with a structural steel perimeter fame.

It was not a typical concrete frame building.

It was the failure of this perimeter that resulted in the partial structural collapse.

The performance of concrete structures was vindicated by the BRE report Fire safety in concrete structures: background to BS8110 Fire Design.

The research for the report found that the provisions of BS8110 in relation to assumed periods of concrete fire resistance were in many cases conservative and that evidence from real fires over a number of years proves that the tabular approach in the code is effective.The report concluded that the conservatism of existing data means further research would potentially result in greater cost economies for concrete.

It should also be remembered that the steel industry has had to invest heavily in fire research due to the fire performance inferiority of the material.

Steve Elliott Project director, British Association of Reinforcement Camberley Surrey