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Design Fires for Deliberately Lit Fire Scenarios in which Bottled Petrol is used as the Accelerant

Richards, P., Fleischmann, C.M. and Spearpoint, M., 2008. Design Fires for Deliberately Lit Fire Scenarios in which Bottled Petrol is used as the Accelerant. Fire Safety Science 9: 1017-1028. doi:10.3801/IAFSS.FSS.9-1017


Deliberately lit fires can be viewed as a wide range of possible scenarios. How and when deliberately lit fires are included within a Fire Engineering Brief is primarily a political decision for the regulator. In New Zealand the proliferation of single means of escape high-rise residential buildings has prompted concern over a deliberately lit fire within the stairwell that can compromise the safety of all of the building occupants. This paper presents a brief look at the fire statistics for deliberately lit fires to determine if the single means of escape buildings exhibit a greater propensity to deliberately fires. Although the statistics do not show a significant increase in deliberately lit fires in attached accommodation buildings, the perception that a deliberately fire in the stairwells should be considered in the Fire Engineering Brief, has motivated this study. A series of experiments were carried out to simulate a glass bottle filled with petrol being thrown into a stairwell. Experiments were conducted using both timber and metal stairs with both plasterboard and concrete block walls. The size of the petrol bottle and location of the ignition were also investigated. The results of this work can be used to develop the design fire for a single petrol bottle thrown into a stairwell or other noncombustible enclosure.

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