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Fires in buildings have always been a threat to human life and property. The threat increases as larger numbers of people live and work in bigger buildings throughout the world. Professor Buchanan’s interest in structural fire engineering was initiated by Professor Brady Williamson in the 1970s at the University of California at Berkeley, and developed during his subsequent career as a practising structural engineer, then as an academic. Dr Abu was introduced to the subject by Professor Ian Burgess and Professor Roger Plank at the University of Sheffield in 2004, and has since worked with a number of consultants in the field.

New Zealand became one of the first countries to adopt a performance‐based building code in the late 1980s, stimulating a demand for qualified fire engineers. This led to the establishment of a Master’s Degree in Fire Engineering at the University of Canterbury, where one of the core courses is structural fire engineering, now taught by Dr Abu. The lecture notes for that course have grown into this book. Many masters and PhD students have conducted research which has contributed to our knowledge of fire safety, and much of that is reported here.

Professor Buchanan and Dr Abu have both been involved in many problems of fire safety and fire resistance, designing fire resisting components for buildings, assisting manufacturers of fire protecting materials, and serving on national fire safety committees. Preparation of this book would not have been possible without the help of many people. We wish to thank Charley Fleischmann, Michael Spearpoint, Peter Moss, Rajesh Dhakal and other colleagues in the Department of Civil and Natural Resources Engineering at the University of Canterbury, and a large number of graduate students. Many people provided helpful comments on the text, figures, and underlying concepts, especially Philip Xie, Melody Callahan, and a large number of friends and colleagues in the international structural fire engineering community.

This book is only a beginning; the problem of fire safety is very old and will not go away. We hope that this book helps to encourage rational improvements to structural fire safety in buildings throughout the world. The second edition has been a long time coming because of devastating earthquakes in Christchurch and other unforeseen difficulties. We hope that it has been worth the wait.  This book is an introduction to the structural design of buildings and building elements exposed to fire.

Structural fire resistance is discussed in relation to overall concepts of building fire safety. The book brings together, from many sources, a large volume of material relating to the fire resistance of building structures. It starts with fundamentals, giving an introduction to fires and fire safety, outlining the important contribution of structural fire resistance to overall fire safety. Methods of calculating fire severity and achieving fire resistance are described, including fire performance of the main structural materials.

The most important parts of the book are the design sections, where the earlier material is synthesised and recommendations are made for rational design of building elements and structures exposed to fires. This book refers to codes and standards as little as possible. The emphasis is on understanding structural behaviour in fire from first principles, allowing structural fire safety to be provided using rational engineering methods based on national structural design codes.  This book is primarily written for practising structural engineers and students in structural engineering who need to assess the structural performance of steel, concrete or timber structures exposed to unwanted fires.