Faculty Advisor

Robert W. Fitzgerald

Faculty Advisor

Leonard D. Albano


In the United States design for fire safety follows a prescriptive code-based approach. Building codes detail the types of construction materials, assemblies, and fire suppression systems that are required for various building types. This prescriptive method has prevented structural engineers from exposure to performance-based design approaches for fire safety. The motivation for this thesis was to increase the awareness of the structural engineering field to the concepts behind structural design for fire safety. Extensive research has been published on the performance of structural steel in fire conditions, and simplified design tools already exist to describe its behavior. Such tools do not exist for reinforced concrete structures. Research on concrete has been more focused on material properties rather than structural performance. This thesis presents a simplified design tool which assesses the fire performance of reinforced concrete. An Excel-based spreadsheet application was developed for thermal analysis of concrete slabs. It accounts for different aggregate types, slab thicknesses, and fire exposures. Several analyses were performed with the spreadsheet application to examine the affect slab thickness and aggregate types have on the fire performance of concrete slabs in standard and natural fires. The results were compared with published test data and finite element software simulations to benchmark the accuracy of the proposed tool. Furthermore, methods for the design of reinforced concrete slabs in fire conditions are presented.


Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Degree Name



Civil & Environmental Engineering

Project Type


Date Accepted





reinforced concrete, performance-based design, Reinforced concrete, Fire testing