Progressive collapse triggered by fire induced column loss: Detrimental effect of thermal forces
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In progressive collapse analysis, event-independent column loss is commonly used as a design scenario. Yet this scenario does not account for the fire-induced thermal forces that develop in case of a fire. The thermal forces may cause detrimental load redistributions in the structure, notably during the cooling phase. However, as the response of entire structures during the full course of fires until burnout has received little attention, these effects are not well established. The objective of this paper is to analyze the mechanisms of load redistribution in a structural system comprising a column subjected to localized fire, with a focus on the effects of the cooling phase. Numerical simulations by nonlinear finite element method are used, after validation against experimental data. The observed mechanisms result in tension building up in the fire-exposed column and overloading the adjacent columns in compression. Consequently, the damaged vertical member redistributes a force that is larger than the force initially carried. This can lead to failure of vertical members not directly affected by the fire and trigger a progressive collapse. These mechanisms are parametrically studied on a simple system composed of a column and a linear spring. Major parameters influencing the residual tensile force in the fire-exposed column are the maximum reached temperature and the relative stiffness of the remainder of the structure. The analysis of a twenty-story steel frame building under localized fire attacking one ground level perimeter column confirms the development of these mechanisms in a real design. The results have important implications as they question the validity of an event-independent design scenario for capturing the influence of column failure due to fire loading.