Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock ( ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Structural Design for Fire: A Survey of Building Codes and Standards



Dat Duthinh


This document is a critical assessment of building codes and standards pertaining to structural design for fire from the United States, Canada, European Union members, Japan, New Zealand and Australia. These countries were selected because of their vigorous research activities on this topic, and the relevance of their engineering practice to that in the US. In the US, there is a dynamic interplay between various consensus-based code writing bodies (such as the International Building Code IBC), and professional associations (such as the American Society of Civil Engineers ASCE, the Society of Fire Protection Engineers SFPE, the American Institute for Steel Construction AISC, the American Concrete Institute International ACI, the Precast/prestressed Concrete Institute PCI), which can produce authoritative and influential guidance documents. So it has been necessary to study not just the codes and standards but also the specifications and guides where applicable. The review focuses on structures made of steel or concrete or composites of steel and concrete. The assessment identifies gaps in U.S. codes and standards for the design of structures for fire. The document is organized in eight chapters. Chapter 1 introduces the scope of the survey. Chapter 2 presents the concepts behind prescriptive and performance-based standards. Chapter 3 reviews methods used to model fires, including standard fires, as well as various fire scenarios and design fires. Chapters 4 to 7 review design and analysis methods and fire design standards for structures made of steel (Ch. 4), reinforced concrete (Ch. 5), steel-concrete composites (Ch. 6) and prestressed concrete (Ch. 7). Finally, Chapter 8 offers recommendations for future work that addresses the identified gaps in US building codes and standards.
Technical Note (NIST TN) - 1842
Report Number


building codes, building standards, concrete, fire, steel, steel-concrete composite, structural engineering.


Duthinh, D. (2014), Structural Design for Fire: A Survey of Building Codes and Standards, Technical Note (NIST TN), National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD, [online], (Accessed April 16, 2024)
Created October 1, 2014, Updated November 10, 2018