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Langdon-Thomas, G.J., 1961. FIRE AND SINGLE-STOREY FACTORIES. Fire Research Notes 483
The passing of the Factories Act 1959 and the not inconsiderable increase in the industrial fire losses for the last year or two have high-lighted the hazard from fire in large factory buildings. A number of these fires have resulted in losses of more than a million pounds. An inspection of the ruins of these large fires, the majority of which are single-storey shed type buildings, show many features in common and from which a number of important lessons may be learnt. In all these large fires the manufacturing process was not the one for which the buildings were originally designed. The result of this is that major alterations have been carried out both to the structure and to the internal layout of the building. To facilitate the movement of goods and equipment from one department to another, individual buildings have been connected by roofing between one and another and in some cases by enclosing walls as well. The size and layout of the buildings, as originally planned, was usually adequate to keep possible fire losses within reasonable limits. The interconnection of one building with another has resulted, however, in a continuous and complex conglomeration of space, in many instances constituting many acres under one roof. To increase accommodation within these vast areas, offices and stores on galleries, have in many cases been constructed. The effect of such alteration to the original shell of the building has been virtually to construct a series of buildings within a building. The structure of these large factories was of the lightest form of construction, brick or sheeted walls, steel trussed frames, protected metal or asbestos-cement roof coverings and in some cases underdrawn with combustible lining materials. Irrespective of the type of material used and the method of construction, because of the extensive areas at risk, large and very expensive fires developed. Production and administrative needs of industry require, in many cases, large individed space and administrative compartments within these areas are of course a necessity. How can these needs be met and at the same time provide a reasonable standard of safety for personnel and minimize losses should fire occur? It is the purpose of this paper to analyse the basic causes and effects of these large fires and to suggest methods of reducing the risk of small fires becoming large and expensive ones. It must be appreciated that in considering factory design, in relation to the reduction of the hazard from fire, statutory requirements in byelaws and regulations under the Factories Acts must be complied with, all of which are outside the scope of this note.