Influence of Building Structure and Building Content on Residential Fires

University essay from Lunds universitet/Avdelningen för Brandteknik

Abstract: In Europe, there are still a significant amount of residential fires. Particularly fires in the living room are a major threat to the occupants. Much research has been done to residential fires. However, there is still little known about the impact of the development of building structures and building content on the fire behaviour and room conditions. This report shows a clear view of how these developments affect the fire behaviour in residential buildings. A comparison is made between traditional, renovated and today’s houses. Due to several events in the past, building structures have changed dramatically. To keep heat longer inside the building, and therefore cost-saving, insulation structures and double glazing become common for the new building from the 1970s. In 1997, new buildings had to be even better insulated. At this time, better/thicker insulation material and better double glazing were introduced. By the application of more and/or better insulation materials, less heat will be lost. For the energy consumption and CO2 emission, this is a positive effect. However, during a fire situation, this means that the heat which is generated by the fire, can not leave the enclosure quickly. As a result of that, higher temperatures and therefore a greater risk in the residential building will be reached. Also, the building content has changed the last decades. Modern furniture is made of different materials than before the energy crisis. In the 50’s mostly natural materials were used. Modern furniture is composed primarily of synthetics. This change has a major impact on the fire behaviour of furniture; natural products burn slower and produce less energy, than synthetics. When a building is furnished with modern furniture, and it ignites, this results in a very rapid fire development and smoke production. The safe evacuation time will be reduced dramatically in the case of modern furniture.

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