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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


Leanne Smith said...


Thanks for this post it is really informative. Can you let me know if they are holding a conference in 2012? I am really interested in Fire Suppression and different techniques that are used and being discovered.

Ricky Carvel said...


We hope to have a conference on Wed 14th November 2012. Details will be posted on shortly.