Builders turn to steel trussing as a precaution against fire

To mitigate the effects of fires on buildings, stakeholders in the property industry are seeking alternatives to wood, which has been the most commonly used material for trussing.

Mr Francis Gichuhi Kamau, an architect at A4 Architects, says that when a building catches fire, it normally spreads through the roof, which means the roofing material used is important. “Apart from other precautionary measures such as using calcium-silicate ceilings for commercial kitchens, using steel trusses is a splendid move,” says Mr Kamau. “One can use either light- or heavy-gauge steel trusses, depending on the building’s span.”

For instance, heavy-gauge steel is recommended for churches due to their large span while light-gauge steel is more suitable for residential buildings, which have a smaller span. “We are trying to conserve our environment by discouraging the use of timber for trussing; it means no cutting down of trees. Then, in terms of durability, steel trusses reign supreme.  We recommend the use of steel for trussing, but we advocate more for the light-gauge because the heavy-gauge is normally painted, and the paint catalyses the spread of fire in case of an outbreak,” says Mr Charles Mugo, a project sales engineer with Safal Building Systems Ltd, which specialises in the design, manufacture and supply of pre-engineered steel trusses. – Anonymous