Design Fire Characteristics for Probabilistic Assessments of Dwellings in England

Charlie Hopkin, Michael Spearpoint, Yong Wang, Danny Hopkin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In England, there are no fixed requirements on the parameters adopted when considering residential design fires, and analyses undertaken are often deterministic with limited consideration given to probabilistic assessments and the sensitivity of parameters. The Home Office dwelling fires dataset has been analysed, considering the fire damage area and the time from ignition to fire and rescue service arrival. From this, lognormal distributions for the maximum heat release rate (HRR) and fire growth rate of residential fires have been approximated. The mean maximum HRR ranges from 900 kW to 1900 kW, with a standard deviation ranging from 2000 kW to 3700 kW, depending on property type and room of fire origin. The mean growth rate, assuming a t2 relationship, ranges from 0.0022 kW/s2 to 0.0034 kW/s2, with a standard deviation ranging from 0.0071 kW/s2 to 0.0132 kW/s2. When considering incidents which result in immediate fire and rescue service call out following ignition, the mean growth rate increases to a range of 0.0058 kW/s2 to 0.0088 kW/s2. As a result of the analyses, design fire distributions are provided which can be adopted for probabilistic assessments. For deterministic analyses, it is proposed that an approximate 95th percentile fire may be adopted, aligning with a medium growth rate of 0.0117 kW/s2 and a maximum fuel-limited HRR in the region of 3800 kW to 4400 kW, depending on whether the dwelling is a house or an apartment. A 95th percentile design fire broadly aligns with values already specified in guidance, helping to substantiate the existing recommendations.
Original languageEnglish
JournalFire Technology
Publication statusPublished - 11 Nov 2019


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