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What are the Risks Entailed from Smoke in Fires?

9 September 2021


On 09 September the latest Fire Information Exchange Platform (FIEP) webinar was held, organised by Efectis as technical secretariat and supported by the European Commission and more specifically DG Grow, with the topic development and risk of smoke in fires covered by four presentations.

Mrs. Fulvia Raffaelli, Head of unit at the European Commission’s Directorate-General GROW, introduced the webinar with the good news as the renewal of the FIEP contract seems to be on the right track. While the contract is not yet signed, this is already excellent news for our community as there are many fire safety topics that deserve to be amplified on the FIEP platform.

September 9th’s  first speaker was Lieuwe de Witte (IFV/ EUFSA). He shared the results of research conducted in the Netherlands in 2019 on smoke propagation in residential buildings. With two scenarios per day for a fortnight and increasingly efficient measuring equipment, Lieuwe was able to present the different components of smoke, their impact and the parameters of the different situations. He reminded the audience that twenty years ago the focus was on the fire itself, but progress means that smoke is now the main focus. Today’s important questions are around whether or not to evacuate in certain fire situations – depending on the threat of the fire itself, but also the impact of the nature and quality of products and furniture on smoke. He concluded that both need to be considered. (Reading: Smoke propagation in residential buildings)

Tommaso Buzzigoli from IDF introduced his modeling project. Tommaso described the different modeling existing methods (analytical, simplified, and advanced) and how to use each for best results. He defined the main factors affecting the model – these include geometrical and boundary conditions, characteristics of materials, smoke and heat spread and smoke management. He also emphasized the link with the impact on the environment.

Evacuation modelling was presented by Michael Spearpoint (OFR). Michael described precisely all the different stages of an evacuation and where attention should be paid.  Evacuation modelling calculates the time for occupants to reach a place of relative safety in the event of a fire (including human behavior, movement mechanics, interaction with built environment, effects of fire and smoke). Michael spoke about the ASET (available safe escape time) /RSET (required safe escape time) ratio and the safety margin concept that has be used in many models.

Finally, Gildas Auguin (Efectis) took us through an interesting experience on a real tunnel fire test performed by Efectis in France. He advocated this on-site evaluation as an additional tool to evaluate the global fire safety performances of a system, a building, or a design. Gildas explained the need to adapt the fire scenario design and method accordingly to the situation and objectives. He ended his presentation with recommendations on the assessment of performance and efficiency of such an on-site test and the points to be considered about smoke.

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