Tenability Analysis of Television Fires in a Sprinkler Protected Compartment (2004)
AuthorsShelley, Jonathan Paulshow all
Unwanted smoke detector activation is an increasing problem in New Zealand, particularly in multi-storey apartment buildings. Many of these building are designed for the accommodation of tertiary students, and will generally have very small living areas combined with a kitchenette. The deemed to satisfy provisions of the building code require smoke detection in the means of escape within a household unit. In most multi-storey apartment buildings there is only one way out of the apartment and this is usually through the living area, therefore smoke detection must be included in this area. The small size of this space however means that cooking fumes are a frequent source of unwanted smoke detector activation. One proposed solution to this problem is to remove the smoke detection from the living area, and rely on a fast response residential sprinkler system to provide sufficient early warning in the event of fire. The purpose of this study was to evaluate whether the warning provided by a fast response residential sprinkler system would be adequate to allow occupants to safely escape from an apartment in the event of a fire. The scenario selected for the evaluation involved a television fire in the living room, with the occupant asleep in an adjacent bedroom and the connecting door between the two rooms closed. Previous live fire demonstrations by the New Zealand Fire Service indicated that burning televisions can produce significant quantities of smoke at relatively low heat release rates. It was considered that the low heat release rate would challenge the response capability of the sprinkler head, and that the large quantity of smoke would present a serious threat to the occupant attempting to escape through the living area. The performance of the sprinkler system was assessed against that of an optical smoke detector and an ionisation smoke detector. These smoke detectors represent the level of safety required by the deemed to satisfy provisions of the building code. At the same time the performance of alternative detection systems including CO and heat was also be explored, along with the reaction time of smoke detectors in the spaces adjoining the living room (since the proposal is only to remove smoke detection from the living area).