Fires can cause major disruption to highway operations. Major bridge fires resulting in serious structural damage or collapse are infrequent but are often highlighted in special reports and news articles. There is also an undocumented number of smaller bridge fires occurring throughout the United States each year that cause varying degrees of disruption, repair actions, and maintenance cost. These incidents appear to stem primarily from vehicle (often truck) fires, but bridges have also been damaged by fires in adjacent facilities and from other causes. The recent bridge fires in California, Michigan, and New York have highlighted the need to understand the frequency and severity of these incidents as well as to review available information on mitigation strategies, damage assessments, and repair techniques.
The objectives of this research were to (1) investigate the susceptibility of highway bridges to fire damage (e.g., by material and design types, geometry, and fire load); (2) develop guidance for damage assessment and repair techniques; and (3) develop guidance for reducing the risk of fire damage.