CHEPACHET, Rhode Island – FM Global engineers spend a lot of time lighting things up and blowing things up to find out the best ways to prevent things from hanging on or blowing up.
During a tour of the 1600-ac FM Global Research Campus, built in 2003, engineers for Johnston, the Rhode Island-based mutual insurance company replicated the impact of the 2017 hurricanes – showing damage that can be caused by projectiles throwing in windows at wind speeds of about 110 miles per hour, as well as protective measures – in the laboratory for natural hazards on Sunday.
"We all know that natural disasters are very harsh and very violent, and there is great potential for damage," says Victor Jaworski, head of branding experience for FM Global based in Johnston. "We cannot choose where a hurricane will make landfall. We cannot choose when an earthquake will strike. But there is hope. In fact, there is a choice in how we decide to plan and respond to these massive disasters. "
For example, a Houston-based client put up a flood barrier before Hurricane Harvey, who kept all his tools dry during the storm. "And when the water recovered and everyone could drive back to work, it was the building working and they could continue to serve their customers and make the revenue that the deal was meant to do," Jaworski said.
FM Global engineers also simulated the effect of an earthquake similar to the 7.1
"Most of the damage from earthquakes does not occur on the outside of the building, especially when builds on a little more modern, higher standards, "he said. "It is the internal bleeding that really gets you, because you can't keep the shaking, unlike the flood barriers that keep the river out and the plywood that keeps the wind out. And inside your building disturbs things and crushes and breaks. With earthquake we design some things to move with the earthquake and some things to resist the movement of the earthquake. "
FM Global engineers also simulated a flammable dust explosion and an event similar to Grenfell Tower fire that killed 72 people in London in 2017.
" It was a tragic fire, but probably the most tragic thing about that fire was that it was completely avoidable, "Jaworski said. "The management of the building wanted to modernize the building. They wanted to add some isolation factors. What they didn't know was that the (aluminum composite) product they decided to join would make this building … a fire trap."
For The fire that recently damaged the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, early indications is that it was probably an electrical fault, "which began," said Chris Johnson, a vice president of FM Global in Luxembourg.
"It's very difficult to prove exactly how it started. "I'm frustrating is why on earth we can't put any fire protection in these buildings?" he said, referring to such historic sites.