In the event of exposing the concrete structures to a fire, a temperature gradient is established across the cross section of concrete structures. For shallow covers, the steel reinforcement inside the structures rises in temperature. Generally speaking, steel loses about half of its strength when temperature rises to about 550oC. Gradually, the steel loses strength and this leads to considerable deflections and even structural failure in the worst scenario. Hence, adequate cover should be provided for reinforced concrete structure as a means to delay the rise in temperature in steel reinforcement.
This question is taken from book named – A Self Learning Manual – Mastering Different Fields of Civil Engineering Works (VC-Q-A-Method) by Vincent T. H. CHU.