Structural fire engineering


The performance during and after fire of structures designed through traditional fire protection approaches is not well understood. This is because the common approach to fire protection of structure relies on outdated rules, empirical models and simplified calculations with limited scientific basis. For example, fire severity is commonly characterized by non-realistic nominal temperature-time curves, and structural performance is modelled on the level of individual elements – ignoring important system behavior effects. Furthermore, the uncertainty in material properties and structural response is rarely comprehensively considered, resulting in an unclear level of safety within the built environment.

Structural fire engineering aims to address the above shortcomings. Thus, structural fire engineering enables (for example) the use of innovative building materials, the adoption of new architectural concepts, and the cost-optimization of fire protection. By duly taking into account risk, uncertainty and lifetime performance, structural fire engineering contributes to a more resilient and sustainable built environment.

Research focus

A particular interest is given to the following problems:

  • Performance of structures and structural elements in natural fires
  • Post-fire assessment of structures
  • Lifetime cost-optimization of structural fire safety
  • Probabilistic risk assessment in fire safety engineering
  • Application of advanced surrogate modelling techniques to structural fire engineering (machine learning)

Selected ongoing and past research projects

  • Lifetime cost optimization of structural fire resistance
  • Performance of load-bearing glass in fire
  • Characterization of the importance of the fire decay phase
  • Behavior of structures in natural fires
  • Post-fire assessment of concrete structures


Prof. Ruben Van Coile (mail)

Collaboration within the FSSE group

Prof. Tarek Beji: Multi-phase aspects in fire 

Prof Bart Merci: Impact of fire dynamics on the structure

Research projects

Research Projects Structural Fire Engineering