Thermal and Structural Response of Beam-End Shear Connections During a Large Compartment Fire Experiment

Xu Dai* (Corresponding / Lead Author), Lisa Choe, Erica Fischer, Charles Clifton

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    The role of steel connections is essential in structural fire design and analysis for steel-framed composite structures. The current structural design provisions provide strength reduction factors of load-carrying members and their end-connection elements at elevated temperatures, based on small-scale experiments under uniform heating conditions. The realistic thermal and structural evolution in member connections, especially as part of full-scale floor assemblies exposed to a large compartment fire, has not been well characterized. A large compartment fire experiment was recently conducted on a 9.1 m by 6.1 m composite floor assembly as part of a two-story steel-framed building. The test assembly had a total of ten shear-tab (fin-plate) connections subjected to combined fire and mechanical loading. This paper presents the measured thermal response of these connections to fire and comparison with the corresponding Eurocode 3 predictions with two methods (1) incorporating the beam bottom flange temperature at midspan and (2) the section factor method. The results show that the Eurocode 3 methods conservatively predict the maximum temperature during heating and the cooling rate but overestimate the high-temperature strength of connections when estimated using the section factor method, showing that the Eurocode 3 simplified approaches are not meant to provide the details of the failure mode for connections. This study suggests that estimating the strength of connections using strength reduction factors may not guarantee a safe structural fire design. In addition, this paper estimated the total axial force (from slab and beam) at the composite connection via using the strain gauge measurements close to the column bases which were not exposed to fire. It suggests realistic axial load and rotational demand on the shear connection due to restraints to thermal elongation or contraction of supported members should be considered in future design guidance as should designing and detailing the connections for ductility to withstand the inelastic deformation demands during the heating and the cooling phases.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalFire Technology
    Publication statusPublished (VoR) - 5 Jul 2023


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