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An Experimental Study on Burning of Vertical Cloth Panels

Mathur A., Vikas D.H. and Kale S., 2011. An Experimental Study on Burning of Vertical Cloth Panels. Fire Safety Science 10: 485-498. 10.3801/IAFSS.FSS.10-485


In many countries, tents are used for public gatherings. In India they are known as shamiana and are custom-made and assembled and disassembled at site in a short time. The structure consists of a metal or wood frame that is covered by fabric panels to produce a closed, open or semi-open structure. Fires in these structures are frequent and spread rapidly resulting in considerable loss of life. In this study, vertical panels of fabrics used in typical shamiana construction were tested for burning characteristics with a nichrome wire ignition as ignition source placed at two locations, viz., bottom center or top center. The process was video taped; individual images were analyzed for flame and char parameters. Bottom ignition of cotton panel results in rapid vertical spread where as with top ignition the burning process is much slower. With bottom ignition, polyester burning results in a regular fall of burning globules to the ground and the spread rate is slow as is the flame length. With top ignition, the burning rate is slower than that for bottom ignition. The combustion of these panels results in disintegration of the structure while propagating the fire to adjacent panels that could be the cause for rapid spread and high fatalities.

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