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Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Science of Suppression FIRESEAT symposium

On November 9th, 2011 the students from the International Masters of Science in Fire Safety Engineering (IMFSE) studying in Edinburgh University were invited to attend the 5th FIRESEAT symposium "The Science of Suppression". During this conference, attended by ~85 people, we saw eight different speakers from varying parts of the world discussing topics focus around fire suppression.

The first speaker we had the privilege of seeing was Ronald Alpert. As the Alpert Correlations were among the topics covered in our Fire Dynamics course, we were all excited to hear him speak. Alpert explained how he designed his correlations and revisited them with new experiments. He eagerly stressed his excitement for someone to advance his correlations past the current level in which they are.

The next speaker was Yibing Xin of FM Global. Sprinkler technology was the topic discussed. FM Global is working on being able to affectively model how sprinkler systems work during suppression. By doing so, they are creating a new modeling tool, FireFOAM. This would be a very useful tool because of the expensive costs of having full-scale burns. We recognize the challenges faced in order to create a program such as this, although there is no doubt that it would be a great use to the Fire Protection Community.

Andre Marshall form the University of Maryland was the third speaker of FireSeat. The research Marshall is conducting also focuses around sprinklers. In contrast to Yibing, his research involves quantitatively breaking down the spray pattern of a sprinkler head and analyzing it. The techniques being used by Marshall are nothing short of impressive.

FireSeat at this point made a turn toward the use of water mist sprinkler systems. Louise Jackman of LPCB discussed some research she was conducting. This involved using mist systems in different setting with different variables. All we could conclude from this was that mist systems are temperamental, in which the system requires just the right variables to effectively work.

The next speaker was Stefan Kratzmeir of IFAB. He discussed his research involving the use of water mist systems in tunnels, hiting mist could be effective in mitigating a fire. Our concern with this topic was the interaction between the mist and the ventilation. We felt this concern was not addressed.

The next research area discussed was the use of cryogenic suppression, presented by MichaelDelichatsios of the University of Ulster. He explained the used of cryogenic material (mainly liquid nitrogen) to extinguish pool fires and wood crib fires. Although the method was effective, the delivering of the agent to the seat of the fire seems to remain the issue in which water and foam systems still have over such a suppression agent.

Suppression in tunnels again arose with the next speaker, Elizabeth Blanchard. Her modelling results of fire suppression inside a medium size tunnel seemed to be more accurate than previous studies. But the question already began to loom among our students concerning the interaction between the mist delivered and ventilation. Our concern was again not addressed, despite the effectiveness of the mist system to mitigate fire and enhance visibility, we felt more research should be performed to address the issue.

The final speaker of the 2011 FireSeat was Stefano Chiti of COWI. This research involved using hypoxic air for fire suppression and prevention. This would basically displace oxygen in the combustion process making combustion slow or near impossible to occur. This is a good research area, especially since Halon is no longer being used. We can see the use of this being great as long as it is ensured not to effect human life.

FireSeat was a great experience. It showed suppression research has many different areas that will improve the suppression actions of the Fire Protection Community in the future.

by Joshua Reichert and Oriol Rios, 2011 IMFSE students

Thursday, January 12, 2012

World War II Fire Safety Propaganda Posters

In June 2009 the Fire Safety Engineering group from The University of Edinburgh begun the challenge of scanning more than 40,000 documents previously located in the BRE Fire Research Archive at the BRE headquarters in Watford. The BRE Fire Research Archive contained documents published during the early and mid-20th century, in almost every topic related to Fire Science, opinion sheared by the few ones that have gone through some of the tens of thousands of documents. A previous description of this project was blogged at an earlier stage.

For the last two years the Fire Safety Engineering group has developed a, postgraduate student-led, self-funded, project to scan these documents, making them available online for the entire fire community at the Digital Preservation of the FRS/BRE Fire Research Archives open access collection from the Edinburgh Research Archive.

To date, the progress of this project has only been possible thanks to the time and resources selflessly given by Kate Anderson, Susan Deeny, Guillermo Rein, Ania Grupka, Tao Gao, Natalia Mambrilla, John Gales, Agustin Majdalani, Marcin Gorączniak, Sarah Higginson, Iris Chang, Frances Radford, Aleksandra Danielewicz and others members of the Fire Safety Engineering group (undergraduate, postgraduates, staff members and visitors), which have participated in some way or another. The support of Theo Andrew, co-developer of the open access and open source Edinburgh Research Archive, has been also been of immense help.

Some time ago, John Gales, PhD student from the Fire Safety Engineering group, come across a file containing World War II fire safety propaganda posters design and printed by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) in Boston, Massachusetts, between 1942 and 1944. The single act of finding the posters was a gift on John’s behave, to the entire fire community, which would have otherwise be lost with time. The posters went through a high quality scanning process and then uploaded into the open access collection. The rareness of the posters found by John was something unique, and like this, many other documents have been found and uploaded into the online collection.

The project is now expanding fast and the Digital Preservation of the FRS/BRE Fire Research Archives online open access collection has now 291 documents, which is expected to reach 500 during the first semester of 2012, being this just the tip of the iceberg of what can be achieved.

Thanks to Guillermo for being the driving force and common denominator throughout the project.

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Fire on Earth at the 2011 European Geosciences Union

Dear Researchers interested in Fire and the Earth System,

We very much hope that you will join us at European Geosciences Union (EGU) General Assembly 2012 in Vienna this April by submitting an abstract to our session "Understanding Fire Phenomena in the Earth System Using Interdisciplinary Approaches". The session aims to bring together all disciplines within fire science toward increasing scientific understanding of the impact of fires on the Earth system. The session will position contributors into four key fire research themes:
  • Fire Behaviour
  • Fire and the Biosphere
  • Fire and Earth’s Past
  • Fire and the Earth System
These groupings are designed to enhance interaction between the communities of fire safety science and engineering, wildfire ecology, palaeofire and Earth system science enabling insight to be gained into the influence of fire on our planet. More importantly we hope that the session will enhance interaction between all our communities.

The deadline for your abstract submission is 17th January 2012.

EGU has a number of exciting fire based sessions this year making it a must for all of us interested in fire science.

We hope to see you all at Vienna in April.

Best wishes,

Claire Belcher and Guillermo Rein (session organizers)