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Major hazards arising from fires in warehouses and chemical stores


The objective is to quantify the hazards to man and the environment arising from fires in stores of toxic chemicals, particularly those containing pesticides, plastics and fertilizers.

This proposal is concerned with the quantification of hazards to man and the environment arising from fires in stores of toxic chemicals. The Sandoz warehouse fire and the Nantes fertilizer incident are typical examples. Current methods for computing the risks and consequences from such fires are inadequate due to the lack of any experimental data on the mix and yield of combustion products and the difficulty of predicting the rate of fire growth in such stores. Thus the aim of this project will be to provide a reliable and well validated set of models, suitable for use in a risk assessment.

There are 7 main work programmes as follows.
Review current data and assess the potential of the cone calorimeter for providing data relevant to the understanding and quantification of the initial growth of the fire, particularly the possibility that it will develop.
Undertake small and medium scale combustion experiments on a representative range of materials to quantify the burn rates, flame spread, and yield of combustion products.
Undertake parallel modelling studies of the above experiments to aid development of predictive models for these parameters.
Undertake full scale field studies to allow measurement of both the heat transfer to the building structure and the rate of fire development. The chemical consumption and takeup of the various consistuents will also be assessed at the same time, together with the plume behaviour and particular dispersion. The results will be compared with wind tunnel data to obtain scaling parameters.
Undertake modelling studies (including computational fluid dynamics(CFD) techniques) to assess predictive capabilities with respect to the flows of hot combustion products and plume dispersion.
Assess the viability of mitigation techniques such as water sprinklers and smoke vents.
Use the data to develop a computerized risk assessment methodology for predicting risk contours based on an expert system, and also methodologies for dealing with incidents.

Funding Scheme

CSC - Cost-sharing contracts


Health and Safety Executive (HSE)
Harpur Hill
SK17 9JN Buxton
United Kingdom

Participants (8)

AEA Technology plc
United Kingdom
Culcheth Laboratory Wighsaw Lane
WA3 4NE Warrington
Building Research Establishment (BRE)
United Kingdom
Bucknall's Lane Garston
WD2 7JR Watford
Building Research Establishment (BRE)
United Kingdom

WD6 2BL Borehamwood
Business Unit of TNO Built Environment and Geosciences
Van Mourik Broekmanweg 6
2628 XE Delft
9,Heroon Polytechniou 9
15780 Athens
Physis Srl
Via Musolesi 1/B
40138 Bologna
United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA)
United Kingdom
Winfrith Technology Centre
DT2 8DH Dorchester
University of Edinburgh
United Kingdom
West Mains Road
EH9 3JL Edinburgh