The effect of separation distance between informal dwellings on fire spread rates based on experimental data and analytical equations

Antonio Cicione, Richard Walls, Zara Sander, Natalia Flores, Vignesh Narayanan, Sam Stevens, David Rush

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Globally, the number of informal settlement dwellings are increasing rapidly; these areas are often associated with numerous large fires. Unfortunately, until recently, very little research has been focused on informal settlement fire issues leaving any attempts to improve their fire safety lacking the evidence base to support effective-decision making. However, over the past 4 years, a limited number of researchers have looked at better understanding these fires through full-scale experimentation and numerical modelling; starting to provide the necessary evidence base and future research directions. It is with this background in mind that this paper seeks to provide a more fundamental understanding of the effect of dwelling separation distance on informal settlement fire spread based on full-scale experiments and analytical equations. In this paper two full-scale experiments were conducted. Both experiments consisted of multiple dwellings, with the main difference between the experiments being the separation distance. Fire spread times, heat release rates, door and window flow velocities, ceiling temperatures and incident heat fluxes were recorded and are reported for both experiments. Theoretical neutral planes are derived and compared to the experimental neutral planes, which show relatively good correlation. The paper continues by calculating the expected incident radiation and time-to-ignition, using the flux-time product method, of the two fire scenarios (i.e., the two experiments) through means of analytical equations, and these findings are compared to the experimental results. Through configuration factors, the paper shows the effect of separation distance, dwelling height and dwelling length on the times-to-ignition, where it is clear that the heat flux received by an adjacent dwelling decrease approximately exponentially as the distance between dwellings increases, and consequently, the time-to-ignition increases exponentially as the separation distance between dwellings increases.
Original languageEnglish
JournalFire Technology
Early online date30 Jul 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 30 Jul 2020


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