The New Haven (CT) Fire Department has recently released a Safety Bulletin to their members on the failure of fiberglass columns under fire conditions. The bulletin was a result of an incident that occurred at a recent fire involving a two story wood frame dwelling with a front porch, with it's roof supported by hollow fiberglass columns. Within minutes of the arrival of the NHFD units, the columns failed under fire exposure, bringing down the roof onto the front lawn.
No fire fighters were injured, however, based on this incident, the NHFD began to gather information on these columns. They conducted tests where the columns were loaded with barrels of water above and then exposed to a fire below. The columns failed in under 4 minutes. They have since found several of these building components throughout their city. While these columns have a rating for compression loads, it appears that fire has not been considered as a load.
Has anyone had any experience (good or bad) with these columns in the field?