This week, June 23 – 29 is National Lightning Safety Awareness Week. According to the Lightning Safety Council, “National Lightning Safety Awareness Week was started in 2001 to call attention to this underrated killer. Since then, U.S. lightning fatalities have dropped from about 50 per year to about 30. This reduction in fatalities is largely due to greater awareness of the lightning danger, and people seeking safety when thunderstorms threaten. During National Lightning Safety Awareness Week, we encourage you to learn more about lightning and lightning safety “. It is very important to understand how to be safe during this natural phenomenon, and engineers have a hand in creating designs to ensure the safety of the public. Encorus’s Fire Protection Engineer John Allan offers more insight on the role engineers have in lightning safety.
There is no sure-fire way to tell when lightning will strike. Lightning is a force of nature that surely has a mind of its own, but with a little foresight, good engineering can protect a building and its occupants from lightning strike hazards. The consequences of lightning strikes are serious. Lightning is one of the leading causes of weather-related fatalities.
Lightning strike prevention is possible with the properly designed systems following tried and true methods of application. These methods have an interesting history and it should not be surprising to know that Benjamin Franklin was one of the first to test the principle. He is known as a founding father: the founder of the first fire station, the father of electricity, and an avid inventor. In 1747, Franklin took particular interest in electricity and started working on several experiments, including his famous key on a kite experiment. By 1749, he had predicted that lightning was static electricity – and he was right. In the summer of 1752, he was in the process of creating the first lightning protection system. He used the tall, sharp steeple as the lightning rod, now called an air terminal, to protect the Christ Church in Philadelphia, PA. His idea was that a sharp, pointed piece of iron could pull the electricity out of the cloud before lightning struck and started an electrical fire.
Over the years, the science of lightning protection has become more exacting. From this research, and a lot of trial and error, consensus code standards have been developed which are now part of our company’s tool box. Encorus Group has the capability and engineering experience to perform lightning assessment and calculations to determine the lightning risk value for a structure. This is a vital part of any new structure design and is critical to major building modifications.
Firewalls and fire barriers are both designed to prevent a fire from spreading, but these often-confused structures are actually quite different. Ideally, firewalls and fire barriers are used together to make a structure as safe as possible. These are the key factors in understanding the use of firewalls and fire barriers in construction.
The Facts About Firewalls
Firewalls are strong walls built to resist fire for up to four hours, remaining erect even if other parts of the building collapse. These exterior walls are thicker than standard walls and stretch from the foundation up to the roof. Structures subdivided with a firewall between them are considered separate buildings.
Firewalls must be constructed with materials that meet the fire-resistance building standards set by the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM). Long, high firewalls may be supported with pilasters or buttresses. A standard firewall is made from concrete or masonry and does not have windows, doors, or other openings. Expansion joints allow the material to expand to withstand the fire’s heat.
Firewalls do more than just contain the blaze. They must also withstand force from other structures or items that collapse within the building, such as inventory or storage.
Exploring Fire Barriers
Unlike exterior firewalls, fire barriers are walls built within a structure. They can either extend from the floor to the roof or from one floor to the ceiling of the floor above. These subdividers can cover hidden spaces and are supported by floors, columns, roofs, and other interior structures. Fire barriers can resist fire for up to three hours as long as the supporting structures have the same level of fire resistance.
This design can allow occupants to safely evacuate the building while containing the fire to the smallest possible area. This can protect the building both from fire and smoke damage, as well as water damage from sprinklers. A one-way fire barrier withstands flames from one side only. Two can be placed together to block fire from both sides.
At Encorus Group, we specialize in designing fire protection systems for medical, industrial, and nuclear facilities. Get in touch today or call 716.592.3980 to learn more about our services.
Encorus would like to extend a warm welcome to our 2019 summer intern group! We will be hosting four interns in our Springville and Buffalo offices. Noah Wichlacz is a student studying Biomedical Engineering at UB. This summer, he will be working out of our Buffalo office as an Engineering Technician intern. Shannon O’Neill is also working in the Buffalo office as an Engineering Technician intern. After the summer, Shannon will be returning to Penn State Behrend University for her junior year.
Two interns will be joining the Springville office for the summer. Mara Gilmartin is an incoming freshman at RIT, and will be assisting Encorus’s Marketing Department. Jenna Needleman will be supporting the Structural Engineering Department this summer and will return to RIT as a senior in the fall.
We’re happy to have these wonderful interns working alongside us for the whole summer!
Professionals in a wide range of industries turn to computer-aided engineering to assist with product design, development, and testing. Its ability to help resolve a number of engineering problems—including the simulation, optimization, and validation of products, tools, and processes—makes it an invaluable asset to businesses. Here are some of the advantages of computer-aided engineering.
Faster, Less Costly Product Development
Before computer-aided engineering, the development stages of a new product required many rounds of materials testing on physical prototypes, a time-consuming and costly endeavor. Now, thanks to advanced software, engineers can perform simulations, tests, and evaluations on new products in hours rather than days or weeks. It’s still necessary to test a physical prototype before proceeding with the serial production of a new product, but computer-aided engineering ensures that the first physical prototype of a design cycle has already been improved and optimized several times.
Simpler, More Accessible Capabilities
Engineering simulation used to be a much more complicated and difficult undertaking, especially for less experienced engineers who faced a steep learning curve. Thankfully, today’s computer-aided engineering tools help eliminate many of the barriers to mastery. This allows even inexperienced users without expert knowledge of physical testing to reach insightful, effective simulation results.
Many Fields of Application
The benefits of computer-aided engineering are wide-ranging and are applicable in a number of industries. Businesses producing automotive, aerospace, electronics, oil and gas, HVAC, and plant engineering products and services are just some of the possible beneficiaries of computer-aided engineering’s advantages. Thanks to advanced testing software, anything from cranes and bridges to racecars and power plants can make it through pre-production faster and with less expense.
Sometimes, flaws in a product’s early designs aren’t realized until far along the development process. When computer-aided engineering solutions are applied to a product’s development process, engineers can gain insight into possible problems and design flaws earlier than ever before. Design changes can be implemented as problems arise rather than later down the line when changes would be more expensive and time-consuming.
Encorus Group has been providing businesses across industries with engineering design, environmental, testing, and inspection services for over twenty years. To learn more about our capabilities, contact us online or call 716.592.3980 today.
Encorus is looking for a Senior Civil Engineer to join our team! The job description and requirements can be viewed here. If you want to join one of the fastest growing companies in Western New York, send your resumes to firstname.lastname@example.org.