FEMTC 2022

Full Height External Fire Spread

Paul Blake - University of Leeds


An investigative study was performed using experimental data from large-scale fire tests to model full height fire spread in the external walling systems of tall buildings.

BS8414-1:2015 outlines a large-scale test method used in the UK for external façade systems where a fire is simulated to have breached through an orifice such as a window and then spread up the exterior face of a building. The reference test cases are assessments of external walling systems carried out by the British Research Establishment (BRE) in 2017 and were commissioned by the UK authorities (Department for Communities and Local Government, DCLG) as part of the more comprehensive, post-incident investigation into the Grenfell Tower fire. Seven separate fire tests were commissioned, each with different walling configurations and primary materials. The external walling system installed at Grenfell Tower comprised of an Aluminum Composite Material (ACM) outer panel, which contained Polyethylene (PE) and a layer of insulation comprising Polyisocyanurate (PIR).

This investigative study used Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) models utilizing Fire Dynamics Simulator (FDS). The first part of the study was to replicate the findings of the post-incident testing conducted by the BRE-DCLG. The BRE-DCLG result reports give temperature rise readings at different depths within the material, allowing comparison in FDS with the conduction through the solid material. The second phase of the study was to apply the data and techniques used to replicate the BRE-DCLG fire testing to design a CFD model for use with a tall building a scale model of the Grenfell Tower building was developed with an external fire spread model.

This project forms part of a continuing self-commissioned PhD research venture conducted at the University of Leeds to model the external fire spread in façade systems and evacuation strategies in tall buildings.

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