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Evaluation of Fire Safety

ISBN: 978-0-471-49382-2
496 pages
March 2004
Evaluation of Fire Safety (0471493821) cover image


Fire safety is a major concern in many industries, particularly as there have been significant increases in recent years in the quantities of hazardous materials in process, storage or transport. Plants are becoming larger and are often situated in or close to densely populated areas, and the hazards are continually highlighted with incidents such as the fires and explosions at the Piper Alpha oil and gas platform, and the Enschede firework factory. As a result, greater attention than ever before is now being given to the evaluation and control of these hazards.

In a comprehensive treatment of the subject unavailable elsewhere, this book describes in detail the applications of hazard and risk analysis to fire safety, going on to develop and apply quantification methods. It also gives an explanation in quantitative terms of improvements in fire safety in association with the costs that are expended in their achievement. Furthermore, a quantitative approach is applied to major fire and explosion disasters to demonstrate crucial faults and events.


  • Full international coverage and a review of several major fires and explosion disasters.
  • Presentation of the properties and science of fire including the latest research.
  • Detailed coverage of the performance of fire safety measures.

This is an essential book for practitioners in fire safety engineering, loss prevention professionals, technical personnel in insurance companies as well as academics involved in fire science and postgraduate students. This book is also a useful reference for fire safety officers, building designers, engineers in the process industries, safety practitioners and risk assessment consultants.

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Table of Contents



1 The place of fire safety in the community.

1.1 The nature of the fire hazard.

1.2 Interaction between fire hazard and other hazards.

1.3 Major fire hazard areas.

1.4 The total cost of fires.

1.5 Prescriptive and functional approach to fire safety.

1.6 Purpose and outline of this book.

1.7 Definitions.



2 The fire safety system.

2.1 Basic questions of fire safety.

2.2 Fire safety objectives.

2.3 Steps in fire safety design.

2.4 Sources of fire safety data.

2.5 Subsystems.

2.5.1 Fire occurrence and fire prevention.

2.5.2 Fire development and fire control.

2.5.3 Harmful effects.

2.5.4 Direct detriment.

2.5.5 Consequential effects and fire accommodation.

2.5.6 Fire safety design and management.

2.6 Contribution of fire safety engineering.

2.7 Approaches to quantitative evaluation of fire safety.

2.8 Other systems approaches.

2.9 Risk management.

2.10 Trade-off, equivalency, cost benefit, and cost effectiveness.

2.11 How safe is “safe enough?”.



3 Review of some major fire & explosion disasters.

3.1 Introduction.

3.2 Major disasters in buildings involving sudden rapid spread of fire.

3.2.1 Summerland Leisure Center, Isle of Man, 1973.

3.2.2 The Stardust Dance Club fire, Dublin, 1981.

3.2.3 King’s Cross Underground Station, London, 1987.

3.2.4 Bradford City Football Ground, 1985.

3.2.5 Interstate Bank, Los Angeles, 1988.

3.2.6 Dupont Plaza Hotel, Puerto Rico, 1986.

3.3 Fires in which extensive spread of smoke was a major factor.

3.3.1 Beverly Hills Supper Club, Kentucky, 1977.

3.3.2 Fairfield Home, Nottinghamshire, 1974.

3.4 Fires associated with explosions.

3.4.1 MV Betelgeuse, Ireland, 1979.

3.4.2 Ronan Point, London, 1968.

3.4.3 Piper Alpha Platform, North Sea, 1988.


4 Requirements from public and private authorities for fire safety.

4.1 Introduction.

4.2 US regulatory environment.

4.2.1 Codes and standards.

4.2.2 Consensus codes and standards.

4.2.3 Limitations of existing codes.

4.2.4 Code adoption and enforcement.

4.3 National Fire Protection Association.

4.3.1 NFPA codes and standard-making process.

4.3.2 Performance option.

4.3.3 Life safety code.

4.3.4 NFPA building code.

4.4 Model building and fire codes.

4.4.1 Model code writing organizations.

4.4.2 International Code Council (ICC).

4.5 Other nonprofit organizations.

4.5.1 Product standards and testing.

4.5.2 Underwriters laboratories.

4.5.3 Engineering societies.

4.5.4 Insurance organizations.

4.6 US federal agencies.

4.6.1 Workplace fire safety.

4.6.2 Consumer products.

4.6.3 Transport.

4.6.4 Nonregulatory activities.

4.7 Canadian regulations.

4.7.1 National Research Council.

4.7.2 Canadian Commission on Building and Fire Codes.

4.7.3 Objective-Based Codes.

4.7.4 Institute for Research in Construction.

4.7.5 Canadian Standards.

4.8 United Kingdom.

4.8.1 Buildings.

4.8.2 Industrial and process hazards.

4.8.3 Consumer fire safety.

4.8.4 Transport.

4.8.5 Fire safety audits and checklists.



5 Physical data.

5.1 Introduction.

5.2 Burning and ignition.

5.2.1 Mechanisms of burning.

5.2.2 Properties of flaming combustion of liquids and solids.

5.2.3 Ignition.

5.2.4 Identification and power of ignition sources.

5.3 Spread of fire.

5.3.1 Radiation from flames.

5.3.2 Convection from flames.

5.3.3 Measurements of heat transfer from flames.

5.3.4 Radiation from hot gas layers.

5.3.5 Convection from hot gas layers.

5.3.6 Fire spread along surfaces.

5.4 Circumstances favorable to rapid fire spread.

5.5 Sudden massive flaming in buildings.

5.6 Sudden massive flaming during fires in process industries.

5.7 Production and movement of smoke and toxic gases.

5.8 Postflashover fires in buildings.

5.9 Interaction between fire and structures.

5.10 Defenses against smoke.

5.11 Fire detection.

5.12 Fire suppression.

5.13 Interaction between fire and people.

5.14 Explosions.

5.15 Fire scenarios in fire safety design.



6 Sources of statistical data.

6.1 Introduction.

6.2 Fire departments and brigades.

6.2.1 United Kingdom.

6.2.2 United States of America.

6.2.3 Japan.

6.2.4 Other countries.

6.3 Insurance organizations and fire protection associations.

6.3.1 United Kingdom.

6.3.2 United States of America.

6.3.3 Other Countries.

6.4 Special databases.

6.4.1 United Kingdom.

6.4.2 United States of America.

6.4.3 International.

6.5 Other data sources.

6.5.1 Minor databases.

6.5.2 Research studies.

6.6 Ancillary statistics.

6.6.1 Population data.

6.6.2 Building stock.

6.6.3 Economic data.

6.6.4 Other ancillary statistics.

6.6.5 International sources.

6.7 Discussion.

6.7.1 Use of statistics.

6.7.2 Limitations in the use of national statistics.

6.7.3 Gaps in national fire statistics.

6.7.4 International comparisons.



7 Occurrence and growth of fire.

7.1 Introduction.

7.2 Probabilistic approach.

7.3 Probability of fire starting.

7.4 Probable damage in a fire.

7.5 Extent of spread.

7.6 Fire growth rate.

7.7 Fire severity.

7.8 Special factors.



8 Life loss.

8.1 Introduction.

8.2 Characteristics of fire casualties.

8.3 Location of casualties.

8.4 Nature of injuries.

8.5 Materials first ignited.

8.6 Casualty rate per fire.

8.7 The time factor.

8.8 Evacuation model.

8.9 Multiple-death fires.

8.10 Other measurements of life risk.

8.11 Impact of product choices on life risk – US method.



9 Property damage.

9.1 Introduction.

9.2 Probability distribution.

9.3 Extreme value theory.

9.3.1 Introduction.

9.3.2 Extreme order distributions.

9.3.3 Estimation of extreme order parameters.

9.3.4 Behavior of large losses.

9.3.5 Return period.

9.3.6 Average and total loss.

9.4 Multiple regression.

Appendix: Properties of extreme order statistics.

9A.1 Basic properties.

9A.2 Estimation of extreme order parameters.

9A.3 Variation in sample size.


10 Performance of fire safety measures.

10.1 Introduction.

10.2 Fire prevention measures.

10.2.1 Introduction.

10.2.2 Dwelling fires – house-to-house visits.

10.2.3 Chip or fat pan fires – television advertisement.

10.2.4 Space heater fires – television advertisement.

10.3 Automatic detectors.

10.3.1 Performance.

10.3.2 Effectiveness – property protection.

10.3.3 Effectiveness – life safety.

10.3.4 Reliability.

10.3.5 Addressable systems.

10.3.6 False alarms.

10.4 Sprinklers.

10.4.1 Performance.

10.4.2 Effectiveness – property protection.

10.4.3 Effectiveness – life safety.

10.5 Structural (passive) fire protection.

10.5.1 Fire resistance.

10.5.2 Compartmentation.

10.5.3 Means of escape facilities.

10.5.4 Fire door.

10.6 Effectiveness of other fire protection devices.

10.6.1 Fire extinguishers.

10.6.2 Ventilation systems.

10.7 Interactions.

10.7.1 Automatic detectors and fire brigade.

10.7.2 Sprinklers and fire brigade.

10.7.3 Sprinklers and structural fire protection.

10.7.4 Sprinklers and ventilation systems.



11 Deterministic fire safety modeling.

11.1 Introduction.

11.2 Models of enclosure fires.

11.2.1 Theory and concept of zone models.

11.3 Dynamics of enclosure fires.

11.3.1 Heat release.

11.3.2 Fire-generated flows.

11.3.3 Stratification.

11.3.4 Mixing.

11.3.5 Heat transfer and mass loss to surfaces.

11.3.6 Flow through openings.

11.4 Zone modeling of preflashover enclosure fires.

11.4.1 Conservation of mass and energy.

11.4.2 The hot layer.

11.4.3 Flame and burning objects source terms.

11.4.4 Fire plume source terms.

11.4.5 The hot-layer source terms.

11.4.6 Heat conduction source terms.

11.4.7 Convective heat flux source terms.

11.4.8 Radiative heat flux source terms.

11.4.9 Flows through vertical vents source terms.

11.4.10 Products of combustion source terms.

11.5 One-zone modeling of postflashover fires.

11.5.1 Theoretical model.

11.5.2 Numerical solution procedure assumptions.

11.6 Field modeling of enclosure fires.

11.6.2 Method of solution.

11.7 Evacuation modeling.

11.7.1 Evacuation model – EXITT.

11.7.2 Evacuation model – EGRESS.

11.7.3 Evacuation model – SIMULEX.


Greek symbols.


12 Model Validation.

12.1 Introduction.

12.2 Validation of zone models.

12.3 The Harvard V zone model (first).

12.3.1 Experimental setup.

12.3.2 The fire.

12.3.3 Measurements.

12.3.4 Comparison of results.

12.4 Harvard VI zone model.

12.4.1 Experimental setup.

12.4.2 The fire.

12.4.3 Measurements.

12.4.4 Discussion of results.

12.4.5 Conclusions.

12.5 FAST zone model.

12.5.1 Experimental setup.

12.5.2 Comparison of results.

12.5.3 Another validation of FAST.

12.6 CFAST.

12.6.1 CFAST validation.

12.6.2 Discussion of results.


12.7.1 Experimental setup.

12.7.2 Discussion of results.

12.8 Validation of field models.

12.9 JASMINE field model.

12.9.1 Enclosure fires with natural ventilation.

12.9.2 Enclosure fires (forced ventilation).

12.9.3 Ceiling jet for confined and unconfined ceilings.

12.9.4 Tunnel fires.

12.10 CFDS-FLOW3D field model.

12.10.1 Single-enclosure fires with natural ventilation.

12.10.2 Multiroom enclosure fires with natural ventilation.

12.10.3 Large single-cell enclosure fire.

12.11 Conclusions concerning validation of zone and field models.



13 Point systems – a single index.

13.1 Introduction.

13.2 Concepts.

13.2.1 Defensibility.

13.2.2 Heuristic models.

13.2.3 Multiattribute evaluation.

13.2.4 Application.

13.3 Examples of established point systems.

13.3.1 Gretener method.

13.3.2 Dow fire and explosion index.

13.3.3 Fire Safety Evaluation System (FSES).

13.3.4 Multiattribute evaluation examples 369

13.4 Multiattribute evaluation 372

13.4.1 Attributes.

13.4.2 Attribute weighting.

13.4.3 Attribute ratings.

13.4.4 Scoring methods.

13.5 Criteria.

13.6 Summary.




14 Logic trees.

14.1 Introduction.

14.2 Management of fire safety.

14.3 Logic trees.

14.4 Decision tree.

14.5 Event tree.

14.6 Fault tree.


15 Stochastic fire risk modeling.

15.1 Introduction.

15.2 General model.

15.3 Markov model.

15.3.1 Mathematical representation.

15.3.2 Markov chains.

15.3.3 Markov process.

15.4 State transition model – spread within a room.

15.5 State transition model – spread from room to room.

15.6 Network models.

15.6.1 Elms and Buchanan.

15.6.2 Platt.

15.6.3 Ling and Williamson.

15.7 Random walk.

15.8 Percolation process.

15.9 Epidemic theory.



16 Fire safety concepts tree and derivative approaches.

16.1 Introduction.

16.2 Fire safety concepts tree.

16.2.1 Configuration of the tree.

16.2.2 Applications.

16.3 The GSA Goal-Oriented System approach.

16.3.1 Components of the goal-oriented systems approach.

16.3.2 Quantitative aspects.

16.3.3 Limitations of the GSA approach.

16.3.4 Summary of the GSA approach.

16.4 Modified approach.

16.4.1 Postulates of fire spread.

16.4.2 Stress-strength models.

16.4.3 Probability distributions.

16.4.4 Modified approach.

16.4.5 Example.

16.4.6 Limitations of the modified approach.

16.4.7 Summary of the modified approach.

16.5 WPI engineering method.

16.5.1 Framework of the WPI engineering method.

16.5.2 Event trees.

16.5.3 Quantification.

16.5.4 Limitations of the WPI engineering method.

16.5.5 Summary of the WPI engineering method.


17 Fire safety assessment in the process industries.

17.1 Introduction.

17.2 Legislation for control of major hazards.

17.3 Point schemes used in the process industry.

17.3.1 Dow chemical points scheme.

17.3.2 The mond fire, explosion and toxicity index.

17.4 Instantaneous Fractional Annual Loss (IFAL).

17.5 Hazard and operability studies.

17.6 Failure Mode and Effects Analysis (FMEA).

17.6.1 Failure Mode Effects and Criticality Analysis (FMECA).

17.6.2 Reliability of fire protection systems.

17.7 Inherent safety.

17.8 Stages in safety design for new plant.

17.9 Examples of logic tree analysis in process industries.



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