Trump Tower fire no match for containment-prone concrete

Sources: Washington Post, New York Times, CBS News; CP staff

Print and broadcast media reports indicate that a four-alarm fire on the 50th floor of Trump Tower in New York City was confined to an 1,100-sq.-ft. condominium, owing to the structure’s reinforced concrete construction. The April 7 blaze took the life of the property’s owner and engaged nearly 200 Fire Department of New York firefighters and EMS responders.

Fire containment is a principal engineering feature and value proposition of cast-in-place and precast concrete, or concrete masonry, in building assemblies.Containment through the use of noncombustible structural and enclosure materials fosters what building code professionals view as passive fire protection—in contrast to active protection measures led by the installation of automatic sprinklers. Such devices are lacking in the upper levels of the 58-story Trump Tower, which rose in the early 1980s as one of the city’s first high rises of all concrete—versus concrete-steel composite—design. In a social media dispatch during the fire service operation, President Donald Trump characterized his Fifth Avenue namesake property as “Very confined (well built building).”