Tag: forensic structural engineer

Structural forensic engineer

Forensic Engineering Explores Steel Framing After a Fire

One of the many roles of forensic engineering services people may not be aware of is assessing steel framing following a fire in a building. Steel can withstand high temperatures, and sometimes it may even look like it was unaffected after a fire. However, even if it appears to be normal, the integrity of the steel could have been compromised. A structural forensic engineer looks at many different factors to determine the integrity and viability of steel framing following a fire. Here are some of those factors, along with some background on how fire affects steel.

How A Fire’s Temperature Impacts Steel Strength

The higher a fire’s temperature is, the more steel will be impacted. The framing could buckle and twist, as well as experience a reduction in stiffness and overall yield strength. But the unique thing about steel is it’s possible for it to regain all its properties back if the fire’s temperature does not exceed 1,300 degrees Fahrenheit for more than about 20 minutes. However, if the temperature is higher than that or it takes longer for the fire to be extinguished, then a structural forensic engineer will likely find some major issues with the integrity of the steel.

Determining Whether Steel is Usable After A Fire

If you happen to watch steel framing as a fire is taking place, the average person will deem it unusable. However, buckling and other deformations can occur in steel at relatively low temperatures. This does not mean the overall integrity of the steel framing is completely and permanently compromised, though. Each situation is unique, which is why forensic engineering practices are needed to determine exactly whether steel framing is strong enough for people to even walk into, much less use the building ever again.

How Forensic Engineers Assess Steel Framing

A structural forensic engineer will look at the external appearance of steel to determine how high the temperature of a fire got, and how long it remained at that temperature. If the steel looks a normal color and there are no other obvious deformities, then most likely the temperature was less than 1,300 degrees Fahrenheit. But if the temperature exceeded that number, then the surface of the steel may appear oxidized, show signs of pitting, reduction of thickness and will have a different color. Once the structural forensic engineer determines the severity of the impact the fire had on the steel framing, he can determine whether the steel is usable as it is, if it can be used with slight modifications or if a complete replacement is needed.

BE Structural has a solid team of experts to provide many different forensic engineering services. A fire can cause an extensive amount of damage in a short period of time, so it’s important to have a structural engineer analyze the damage to deem the building safe or unsafe. To learn more about how the process works, feel free to contact us at any time.

Building envelope engineering

Can Structural Failures Be Prevented?

It seems like you hear about a structural failure every day somewhere around the world. While many of these failures occur as a result of a natural disaster, many of them could have been prevented with quality building envelope engineering. Building a new structure requires many different levels of analysis before the building process even begins. But missing just a single step could end up with forensic engineering services being at your property to pinpoint why the structure failed. Here are some ways structural failures can be prevented.

Importance of Soil Testing

The soil you decide to build a structure on is just as important as the building materials themselves. Many contractors will rely on the property owner to hire an outside service to do a soils report, and won’t even ask about it. Getting a soil analysis requires an upfront cost, but can prevent a failed structure in the long run. The best building envelope engineering companies will require a soils report before building the structure, just to ensure the stability of it for years to come.

Impact of Geotechnical Engineering and Structural Engineering

Geotechnical engineers focus on the rock and soil underneath the structure. Structural engineers focus on the actual building itself. While both analyze completely different aspects, they work together to ensure stable structures. When facade engineering consultants believe the foundation of a structure is unstable, they will many times call on geotechnical engineers to analyze the soil first. But when the two work together before a structure is even built, then structural failures can be prevented more often than not.

Experts Can Prevent Structural Failures

No one wants to have forensic engineering services out on their property to analyze a structural failure. Instead, rely on the experts to ensure this type of building failure won’t happen in the first place. Building a new structure is not a time to cut corners to save costs. Too many people underestimate the importance of analyzing all aspects of a building structure and the land it sits on, which is why we are seeing so many structural failures worldwide.

At BE Structural, our structural engineers can help you analyze your building materials and foundation to ensure stability. Our experienced facade engineering consultants will make suggestions based on thorough analysis so you can better prevent a structural failure from occurring. Be sure to contact us to learn more about how we can help you prevent structural failures.

Forensic Engineering: Crane Collapse on the Tappan Zee Bridge

expert forensic witness

Image Courtesy of Wikipedia

The Tappan Zee Bridge in New York is one of the busiest, since it connects the city’s northern suburbs. It’s estimated that around 138,000 cars travel on the bridge every day. It is currently undergoing construction, which is scheduled for completion in 2018. However, the completion date may be set back slightly after the recent collapse of one of the cranes being used for the bridge’s construction.

The crane supposedly malfunctioned and fell on the bridge, which caused the lanes to be shut down for hours. Fortunately, only minor injuries were sustained, including one construction worker, but the investigation into what caused the malfunction is just beginning.

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Water and Ice: Your Building’s Worst Enemies

Prevent ice dams with a structural inspection.

A structural inspection can help prevent ice dams.

Did you know water can cause some of the greatest damage to your commercial and residential construction, even beyond other natural disasters? Understanding how water leakage occurs and what damage it can do, underscores the effect this force of nature can have on your building’s construction.  A forensic structural engineer will look for potential or current water damage during a structural inspection and suggest the necessary measures needed.

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