The Sabah Al-Salem University City is an education and knowledge destination of the future.
Fire ripped through two buildings at Sabah Al-Salem University City in 2013 causing 200,000 SF of concrete damage.
The fire damage caused spalling and delamination at the columns, the top of the slabs, beams, and the soffit of slabs.
Localized evaluation of the damage utilized drill probes to help determine the depth of the damage.
Concrete cores were chemically treated with rainbow indicator to help determine the depth of carbonation which is an indication of fire damage.
Schmidt hammer testing was used determine the relative surface hardness of the concrete to help determine if the concrete was effected by the fire.
Direct tension pull off tests verified that sound parent concrete was reached and that all the fire damaged concrete has been removed.
The form and pump technique was used to repair soffits, vertical elements, and top slabs.
An accelerated schedule allowed for repair work to be completed during construction of the rest of the campus.
Owner 
Sabah Al-Salem University
Location 
Shidadiyah, Kuwait
Project Team 
STRUCTURAL
Specialty Contractor
STRUCTURAL TECHNOLOGIES
Concrete Repair Solution Builders
Dar Al-Handasah Consultants
Engineer-of-Record

Sabah Al-Salem University Fire Damage Repairs

Project Highlights 
  • 250 Repair Technicians from 5 Countries
  • Over 170,000 SF of Repairs
  • Accelerated Repair Schedule 
Project Description 

Kuwait City is a modern, thriving metropolis with a population over 4 million people. As one of the most progressive Arab nations, Kuwait is committed to investing its resources in ways that benefit its citizens and the entire region – with a key objective being education. The $3 Billion Sabah Al-Salem University City is located southwest of Kuwait City, in Shidadiyah, where an over 6 million square meter (60 million square foot) plot was allocated. Sabah Al-Salem University City is designed to provide world class educational facilities equipped with advanced learning resources for over 40,000 students. This campus is intended to be a node for education and a knowledge destination of the future.

 

Disastrous Fire Strikes University

Partway through construction, two buildings caught fire including the College of Arts and the College of Education, both of which are intended for female students. A large amount of wood was used for the formwork and served as the primary fuel source. As a result, these structures were on fire for over 3 hours. After the fire was extinguished, preliminary site investigations estimated the damaged concrete at 18,580 square meters (200,000 square feet). The structures were in need of immediate shoring in many areas due to the severity of the damage. The fire damaged concrete was located at the columns, the top of the slabs, beams, and soffits. The scale and pace of this project required a unique approach that is uncommon in the repair industry. Typically, an engineer will conduct a detailed survey and provide repair recommendations to the repair contractor. For this project, STRUCTURAL collaborated with Dar Al-Handasah Consultants and the Concrete Repair Solution Builders of STRUCTURAL TECHNOLOGIES at the point of construction which enabled real time testing of the fire damaged concrete. Through this approach, the team was able to get a very accurate understanding of the damage to each affected structural element and to prescribe the proper repair approach. The engineering investigations of the fire damage concrete were closely followed by the repair crews of STRUCTURAL.

 

Investigation of Fire Damaged Concrete

A localized fire damage evaluation program was developed that began with visual inspections, drawings, mapping, photo documentation, and non-destructive and semi-destructive testing. A series of techniques were utilized to detect the extent of the area affected by the impingement of the flames, as well as the depth of the damage. STRUCTURAL crews used acoustic emission (hammer) sounding to identify the delamination and Schmitt hammer testing helped determine relative surface hardness of the concrete. Drill probes were used to determine the depth of fire damage and how much of the concrete needed to be removed until sound parent concrete was uncovered. After the damaged concrete was removed, direct tension pull off tests were used as tactile verification of reaching sound parent concrete. The completed evaluation and the testing results helped to determine the proper concrete repair at every location to ensure a long lasting repair.

 

Repair Process

The scale of the project required over 250 repair technicians from over 5 countries to complete the scope of repairs. Local labor crews were added and given comprehensive training to ensure quality and safety practices were maintained throughout the job. Fire damaged concrete was removed with small electric and pneumatic chipping hammers. These small sized hammers were used in order to prevent micro-cracking of the substrate. Once the removal of the fire damaged concrete was completed, direct tension bond tests were performed to verify that the damaged concrete was fully removed. Localized repairs were categorized to understand the levels of damage and the best repair solution. For vertical surfaces, such as columns and walls, traditional form and pump techniques were utilized. For horizontal elements, such as soffits and the underside of the slab, repairs depended on how deep the deterioration infiltrated the structure. If the deterioration did not reach the rebar, shotcrete was the repair approach, but if the deterioration did reach the rebar, traditional form and pump techniques were again utilized. To repair the top slab, the form and pour method was used. Hand placement was used to repair small areas as needed.

 

Overcoming Challenges and Bridging the Cultural Gap

Materials, tools, and equipment were very difficult to come by and posed some challenges in completing the repair work. A resource manager was hired to negotiate and purchase materials locally. If supplies were not available nearby, research was done to locate and obtain materials throughout the Middle East region for expedited delivery. International collaboration was a unique factor throughout the project. Because of the language barriers, visual cues were the best way to ensure understanding. Quality control and assurance practices had to be specifically developed in order to communicate with the multi-national crew. As a result, check off system was implemented and attached to each repair item. These lists detailed step-by-step procedures and, through the use of color coded stickers, identified where in the repair process each item was by using color coded stickers. To communicate the importance of safety, a Job Safety Analysis (JSA) with graphics was also developed. The JSA used various illustrations and diagrams to identify the tools that would be used for each repair, the hazards that may be encountered, and the precautions that should be taken.

 

Successful Repairs Help Build the Future

The flagship Sabah Al-Salem University City project was put on hold for over a year, but with an accelerated schedule, construction was able to be performed the same time as the repair work. Through a hybrid system approach, engineering and construction converged to allow for a full, unique understanding of the deterioration for each structural element. A fast-paced repair process was implemented after the severity was determined. As a result of localized evaluations and repairs, approximately 85% of the original estimated repair area actually needed repair. This reduction in scope saved money and time. After the successful completion of over 15,790 square meters (170,000 square feet) of repair from the fire damage, students are finally getting the university they deserve.