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Applications of CFD and Other Techniques to Large Fire Losses


 Empire Landmark Hotel

 1400 Robson St, Vancouver, BC V6G 1B9

The reconstruction of fire scenarios using modelling and other techniques is not new. Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) has been employed for some years now in the design of fire protection systems as part of the fire and life safety design of buildings, in particular smoke control. Property protection is also an important consideration, where large fires can have a devastating impact on business continuity and be the result of long and expensive legal enquiries.

CFD is now also used routinely in fire forensics, where knowledge of the fire risks and fire protection systems in such situations is essential in the analysis of the fire, and the forensic team has to bring different skill sets to the production of the forensic report. In these often detailed and complex cases, CFD may be but one component of the overall analysis, fitting into a wider probabilistic analysis. Here, event tree modelling can play a very important role, allowing the relative importance of various factors, e.g. sprinkler system failure, to be quantified. CFD may be employed as a ‘calibration’ tool, examining a sub-set of critical scenarios in detail.


Large property and financial fire losses in the UK will be discussed to provide a context for the CFD and accompanying analysis in the forensic and legal processes that follow. The application of the various techniques for complex cases to help ascertain the probable origin and development of fire will be illustrated. This will include probabilistic fire risk assessment, analysis of fire risk in relatively enclosed spaces and high rack warehouses fire modelling using CFD.

Stewart Miles is a principal engineer with International Fire Consultants in the United Kingdom. He has worked on the development and application of fire modelling tools, including CFD, for over 25 years both through the IFC Group and the Building Research Establishment (BRE) which helped pioneer CFD fire modelling. An early example of the application of CFD to fire forensics included the Kings Cross fire in the London Underground, where the significance of the ‘trench effect’ was identified.

The IFC Group have acted as expert witnesses for some of the UK’s largest fire losses: $500 million or more. They have established a multi-disciplinary team to address various technical aspects of complex cases. Contributions from individual team members include analysis of the internal and external fire records, actions in a fire emergency, testing and maintenance of systems/known defects, effects of various conditions/predispositions on the status of systems’ performance and event tree analysis in support of certain hypotheses and fire scenarios.

Date: September 29, 2015
Time: Registration and Reception 5:30pm
Location: Empire Landmark Hotel (1400 Robson St)
Cost: Members - $30; Non-members $35. Please bring cash or a cheque payable to BC Society of Fire Protection Engineers to cover the cost of dinner.
Registration Deadline: September 25, 2015

Start date: 
Tuesday, September 29, 2015 - 17:30

Signups closed for this Event