Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Fire prevention: Water-mist may prevent rain of sparks

Date:
March 3, 2014
Source:
SINTEF
Summary:
Fire researchers have shown that sparks from a burning house can be prevented from spreading if the loft is fitted with an extinguishing system based on water-mist, i.e. tiny water droplets that turn into steam. Shortly after the catastrophic fire in Lærdal in Western Norway, which destroyed 40 buildings, an eleven-year-old report from the Norwegian Fire Research Laboratory, has once again become highly relevant.

Fire researchers have shown that sparks from a burning house can be prevented from spreading if the loft is fitted with an extinguishing system based on water-mist, i.e. tiny water droplets that turn into steam.

Related Articles


Shortly after the catastrophic fire in Lærdal in Western Norway, which destroyed 40 buildings, an eleven-year-old report from SINTEF NBL, the Norwegian Fire Research Laboratory, has once again become highly relevant.

When fire crews obtained permission to set fire to an old timber house beside the new E6 highway in Melhus in the County of Sør-Trøndelag, then under construction, SINTEF's fire researchers were given the chance to test the effects of a water-mist system that they had installed in the loft.

"We found that the water-mist kept the temperature in the loft fairly low for a reasonable length of time, in fact well below 100 oC, and this prevented the fire from breaking through the roof. When fire breaks out in a district of densely packed timber houses, it is important to be able to do just that, because it is when the flames rise through the roof that we get a rain of sparks," says research manager Anne Steen-Hansen of the Fire Research Laboratory at SINTEF.

In use in Røros

On the recommendation of SINTEF, water-mist systems were installed in the lofts of all the houses in a block of buildings in the World Heritage City of Røros.

Water-misting is a relatively new extinguishing method, which so far has mainly been used in ships, offshore platforms and industrial buildings, etc.

The method consists of drenching the site with tiny droplets of water, much of which is turned to steam by the heat of the fire. This has a number of fire-restricting effects: the water's own uptake of heat, particularly when it evaporates, cools down the flames. The water that reaches the surface of the fuel also helps to cool it down. At the same time, the volume of the water increases dramatically as it turns into steam, displacing oxygen that would otherwise feed the flames.

Sprinklers another good idea

According to Steen-Hansen, when wind conditions are such as they were in Lærdal a couple of weekends ago, everything depends on restricting a fire to the house where it started. The fire scientist points out that traditional sprinkler systems can also contribute to ensuring fire safety in areas of high-density timber housing.

"If there had been a sprinkler system in the house in Lærdal where the fire started, it is unlikely that the fire would have spread. So wherever there are listed timber houses it is obviously a good idea to install sprinkler systems, " says Anne Steen-Hansen.

Combination of measures

"Is an extinguishing system by itself enough to prevent future catastrophic fires such as destroyed much of Lærdal?"

"No; we need a combination of several fire-safety measures. Those that enable us to detect a fire in its early stages lead to a rapid alert and enable us to extinguish it quickly. It is also important that people should know how to prevent fires from starting and how to fight small fires themselves. We also need to develop reasonably priced extinguishing systems that are both reliable and easy to install.

The highly experienced fire scientist points out that there are still gaps in our knowledge about how different types of fire-safety measures work under different conditions, and that more research is needed in this area.

At the beginning of this year, SINTEF's Fire Research Laboratory gained a new majority owner in the shape of the SP Technical Research Institute of Sweden, and is now a part of this company. The fire research laboratories in both countries now comprise the largest fire research group in Europe.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by SINTEF. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

SINTEF. "Fire prevention: Water-mist may prevent rain of sparks." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 3 March 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140303084304.htm>.
SINTEF. (2014, March 3). Fire prevention: Water-mist may prevent rain of sparks. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140303084304.htm
SINTEF. "Fire prevention: Water-mist may prevent rain of sparks." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140303084304.htm (accessed October 25, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

EU Gets Climate Deal, UK PM Gets Knock

EU Gets Climate Deal, UK PM Gets Knock

Reuters - Business Video Online (Oct. 24, 2014) — EU leaders achieve a show of unity by striking a compromise deal on carbon emissions. But David Cameron's bid to push back EU budget contributions gets a slap in the face as the European Commission demands an extra 2bn euros. David Pollard reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Deep Sea 'mushroom' Could Be Early Branch on Tree of Life

Deep Sea 'mushroom' Could Be Early Branch on Tree of Life

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Oct. 24, 2014) — Miniature deep sea animals discovered off the Australian coast almost three decades ago are puzzling scientists, who say the organisms have proved impossible to categorise. Academics at the Natural History of Denmark have appealed to the world scientific community for help, saying that further information on Dendrogramma enigmatica and Dendrogramma discoides could answer key evolutionary questions. Jim Drury has more. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Tornado Rips Roofs in Washington State

Raw: Tornado Rips Roofs in Washington State

AP (Oct. 24, 2014) — A rare tornado ripped roofs off buildings, uprooted trees and shattered windows Thursday afternoon in the southwest Washington city of Longview, but there were no reports of injuries. (Oct. 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Fast-Moving Lava Headed For Town On Hawaii's Big Island

Fast-Moving Lava Headed For Town On Hawaii's Big Island

Newsy (Oct. 24, 2014) — Lava from the Kilauea volcano on Hawaii's Big Island has accelerated as it travels toward a town called Pahoa. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins