High profile, fire-induced structural collapses such as the World Trade Center and the MacArthur Maze highway overpass in Oakland, CA, have underlined the need for improved methods that accurately evaluate expected performance of structures subject to fire.
Since 2001, we have developed expertise in structural analysis to combat the effects of fire. We approach solutions knowing fire may threaten structural integrity as the primary cause or following extreme events such as blasts or impacts (multi-hazard). Fire protection and structural engineering are disconnected in the US even though the threat is well documented empirically. Hinman makes the connection between the fire threat and the resulting structural impact by introducing an engineering framework that geometrically maps the range of fire influence and quantifies the effects on the structure. We use this framework to identify the fire vulnerabilities of existing structures and to develop design criteria for new structures that meet the owner's desired performance goals. Our approach uses fidelity methods appropriate to the project: our own Fire Loading and Mitigation Evaluator (FLaME) software (design level fidelity) or commercially available computational fluid dynamics and finite element software (research/forensic level fidelity).
Hinman staff continues to publish papers on structural fire engineering in major peer-reviewed journals, present at technical conferences internationally on research development, and participate in the ASCE and ACI design guideline development of structural fire engineering.