Posted on 15/01/2016 in News 32 2016
Fires are fast and deadly

Anja Hofmann, BAM Germany, summarised lessons from full-scale fire tests and fire modelling. Full-scale building fire tests were carried out in 2014 by BAM with the Fire Services of Frankfurt (TIBRO project), using five rooms in a building destined for demolition. The objective was to see how rapidly conditions become lethal in a fire in a furnished room and smoke toxicity developed in a room adjacent to the fire.

Tests (funded by EFRA) showed how fast fire becomes lethal in a modern home. Flashover occurred just 4 minutes after ignition (by a candle flame) in a furnished children’s bedroom: that is the transition from a developing fire to a fully developed fire where all contents are involved in the fire. Maximum temperatures had reached 400 °C near the floor (50 cm) and 1 000 °C near the ceiling. Flashover occurred after around 9 minutes in a small room containing just one upholstered chair in another test.

The fire tests in Frankfurt showed that fires developed significantly faster in the room with the modern furniture compared to a room with 1980’s furniture. In these room tests, smoke toxicity became lethal in an adjacent room after 7 – 9 minutes.

Anja Hofmann also discussed fire safety of ETICs (External Thermal Insulation Cladding panels) with polystyrene foam insulation. Energy saving objectives for buildings, particularly in renovation, is leading to widespread installation of such panels. Fire performance of these systems depends highly on the size and energy of the ignition source and the placement of the ignition source, i.e. inside or outside the building. This can be seen in real fires as well as in large and intermediate scale tests. Several full scale fire tests and numerical modelling of these fires have shown that modern room fires can result in significantly higher heat flux to the wall above an opening than is considered in the German proposed DIN test for facade systems.












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