A Critical Evaluation of BS PD 7974-7 Structural Fire Response Data Based on USA Fire Statistics

M. Manes*, D. Rush

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Probabilistic techniques deal with the randomness of variables and reliability of safety system but their application in fire safety engineering is limited due to the lack of data related to real structures subjected to real fires. This can be overcome by analysis of national fire statistics provided by fire departments. Fire statistics databases are a collection of data from real structures subjected to real fires and provides an understanding of real effectiveness of different fire safety measures (i.e. compartmentation) which influence the spread and growth of fire, and ultimately their monetary consequence. The ability to understand the realistic responses of buildings in fire is the fundamental basis of British Standards PD 7974-7, which provides data to perform probabilistic risk assessments for fire. However, the current data presented by BS PD 7974-7:2003 (referred to as PD 7974-7 within this paper) was developed between 1966 and 1987. This research has used the USA fire statistic database of 2014 to recreate the tables present in the PD 7974-7, compare the results, and understand their evolution in time. The comparison between PD 7974-7 and the USA fire statistics introduced in this paper shows that modern fire frequency can be up to more than 10 times smaller than presented in PD 7974-7; area damage in m2 and spread of fire are linked to automatic extinguish systems effectiveness and greater in the USA fire statistics than predicted by PD 7974-7. This clearly demonstrate the need of updates to PD 7974-7 and feeds towards a better understanding of the robustness, and potentially the resilience, of real structures in fire.

Original languageEnglish
JournalFire Technology
Early online date12 Oct 2018
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 12 Oct 2018

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • Fire damage
  • Fire financial loss
  • Fire frequency
  • Fire safety systems
  • Fire statistics
  • Performance based-design
  • Probabilistic risk assessment


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