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Review on Fire Safety in Car Parking

Authors:

Abstract

This paper mainly highlights on car parking safety from fire. Nowadays many underground car parks are constructed in large residential, administrative and office buildings. A large portion of them are developed with a view of tackling the issues related to indoor air quality, for example, carbon monoxide emitted from vehicles. In such cases, mechanical ventilation frameworks must be introduced to supply air that is natural. An abundant number of fire mishaps involving car parking lots in the recent decades have brought a serious focus on this issue. There have been some concerns about the causes of fires in car parks associated with present day vehicle construction & the way these flames can spread to the automobiles that are parked close by. Thus, this paper will mainly highlight the various aspects on how these parking lots catch fire and also on how the fire spreads vigorously endangering the whole building. The safety measures using various engineering controls on how to curb the smoke and heat production will also be discussed. The study discusses one case study on major car parking fire accident and also alludes to the safer building design of a car parking lot taking into concerns regarding fire and .
Proceedings of National Conference: Advanced Structures, Materials and Methodology in Civil Engineering
(ASMMCE 2018), 03 - 04th November, 2018
PAPER CODE: C 503
ASMMCE’18 595
Review on Fire Safety in Car Parking
Deepanshu Rajora,1 B.P. Yadav, 2
1*,M.Tech Student, Department of Health, Safety and Environment, University of petroleum and Energy Studies, Dehradun
2Associate Professor, Department of Health, Safety and Environment, University of petroleum and Energy Studies, Dehradun
Abstract:
This paper mainly highlights on car parking safety from fire. Nowadays many underground car parks are
constructed in large residential, administrative and office buildings. A large portion of them are developed with
a view of tackling the issues related to indoor air quality, for example, carbon monoxide emitted from vehicles.
In such cases, mechanical ventilation frameworks must be introduced to supply air that is natural. An abundant
number of fire mishaps involving car parking lots in the recent decades have brought a serious focus on this
issue. There have been some concerns about the causes of fires in car parks associated with present day vehicle
construction & the way these flames can spread to the automobiles that are parked close by. Thus, this paper will
mainly highlight the various aspects on how these parking lots catch fire and also on how the fire spreads
vigorously endangering the whole building. The safety measures using various engineering controls on how to
curb the smoke and heat production will also be discussed. The study discusses one case study on major car
parking fire accident and also alludes to the safer building design of a car parking lot taking into concerns
regarding fire and .
Keywords: vehicles, car, fire safety, parking design
Introduction
Nowadays, car parking structures are generally found in abundance in urban areas or cities. These structures are
solitary, or sometimes co-exist with a residential compound. Structures can be many storey, above ground and
may be open or closed; and be utilized to park and safely keep different kinds of vehicles (EC 1999). The
increase in the rate of construction of underground parking lots, especially in crowded urban places leads to
safety concerns related to fire hazards. As a result, a rigid set of restrictions has to be implemented which needs
proper planning in advance. Due to crouched or low roofs, and absence of openings, there is an effect on the
scenario of fire leading tohigher temperature in these structures and more damage (Zhao and Kruppa 2004).
Parking garage fires are generally limited to a single vehicle. Only about 8 percent of incidents extend to the
area beyond the footprint of the vehicle, where the fire has originally started. In simple words, the majority of
fires are bound to a single vehiclein scope (MZ and Spearpoint 2014). However, it is difficult to predict when
the fire will strike. The worries regarding human life and property damage have prompted the consideration of
effects of fires in developing automobiles parking structures. The structural design and materials used for the
parking lot play a vital role in controlling fire and ensuring a safe and sound car storage area. For the same
reasons, it is important for a manufacturer or builder to keep in mind the various standards and codes necessary
for a safe design while constructing parking lots
Table 1: List of car parking fire
S.
No.
Fire accident and place
Number of
vehicles damaged
Damage
1
Liverpool Echo arena Car park
1400
Nil (animals died)
2
Frolunda Square ,Sweden
100
Nil
3
Palace Vendome fire , Paris
40
Firemen affected by smoke
4
Raipur Railway station parking fire
200
Nil
5
Atlanta International Airport Parking
3
Nil
From Table 1, one can observe that that there have been many cases of car parking fire incidents in and around
the world, but fortunately no people have been injured. It doesn’t mean that the issue does not need attention.
Instead, these events should be treated as a near miss incident for human lives.
Proceedings of National Conference: Advanced Structures, Materials and Methodology in Civil Engineering
(ASMMCE 2018), 03 - 04th November, 2018
PAPER CODE: C503
ASMMCE’18 Rajora, D. 596
Causes of Fire Occurrence in Car Parking Area
In a car there is abundance of inflammable materials including flammable fluids like petrol, engine oil, seats and
plastics used in the interior. As Oxygen is abundant in nature, it is very demanding to cut the supply of Oxygen
to prevent the fire at the start or its spread after an accident. Depending on the miles the car has travelled before
parking, weather, adjacent vehicle, state of the car machinery and human failure, the possible causes are as
follows: (i) Arson: It is very much possible that someone may alight the car, which can be a deliberate Violation
(whether Routine, Situational, or Exceptional),(ii) Electronic malfunction within the car, (iii) Static electricity:
Static discharges of the car or adjacent cars, through friction build-up in the tyres, or wind blowing over the
metal body causes ignition spark,(iv) Radiation: If the car is parked where there is a radiation leak from the
buildings or other one off scenarios where the other vehicles are carrying unsafe illegal materials,(v)
Electricity/arcing: This normally happens when we park the car under overhead electric lines, (vi)
Flashpoint/auto-ignition: The flashpoint of gasoline is -43 degree C, and auto-ignition temperature is 280 degree
C, hence car temperature matters a lot, (vii) Poor maintenance: Leaking fluids, Overheating engines,
Overheating catalytic converters, battery issues, bad gasket are all examples of poor maintenance which may
lead to fire(Chow 1998).
It becomes very important to carefully examine the parking lot involved in a fire accident to understand the basis
of the origin & spread of fire. Since fresh air is abundant, open-sided parking areas may easily lead to fire due to
easy availability of ventilation. It is possible for the fire to spread easily in case of availability of materials which
can easily catch fire. On the other hand, enclosed parking lots have more probability to witness under-ventilated
fires as a result of short-supply of air. Consequently, the material is left incompletely burnt resulting into
production of harmful gases which affect the persons respiratory tract (DCLG 2010).
The format and structure of automobile parking premises imply that fire spread starting with one automobile
then onto the next is a definite risk. Vehicles are for the most part stationed closely thereby facilitating flame to
spread from one car to another. Moreover car parking premises mostly have rooftop which is quiet lower
enabling warmth & smoke development simply over the vehicles (PJHJ et al. 2003).
Building Design of Parking Lot
Car parking lot can be broadly classified into open and closed based on guidelines provided by European
Convention for Constructional Steelwork (ECCS) which states that, a parking lot will be termed as “open” if the
area of wall ventilation is present at two facades facing in opposite side. Usually open car parking area are
highly ventilated which helps in keeping the fire in its zone of ignition thus avoiding flashover(Wang 2014).
In order to test the structural fire behaviour of steel members, a study was conducted in the year 2000 called the
“three fire test”. This test was conducted in an unprotected real car park consisting of 3 cars, made of concrete
steel. The duration of the fire test was one hour and twenty minutes and the maximum temperature that reached
the ceiling just above the car was 1040 degree C. After cooling the structure only a slight deformation of twenty
five millimetres was observed however the structure did not collapse. Thus this test successfully concluded that
concrete steel is indeed resistant to fire.
One of the important requirements for a proper parking lot is the suitable number and size of columns in parking
structures. It should be kept in mind seen that large columns do not congest the traffic lanes width and, the
parking space. Furthermore, corrosion, chloride attack and leakage may occur in the floor deck joints. So the
number of joints should be kept minimal. Manufacturers should provide impact resistance test and density
hardness in order to verify if their structural product would stay in place if stressed over the design limits. Also,
in order to protect the parking structure from harsh external weather conditions, roof insulation should be carried
out and an external wall may need to be constructed. In order to overcome the expansion due to thermal energy,
expansion joints can be used. These joints should be designed in such a manner that they are able to withstand
vehicular weight (Fettah 2016)
Liverpool echo arena car park fire
A huge fire in Liverpool destroyed up to 1,400 vehicles in a multi-storey car park, forcing many people to spend
New Year's Eve in a temporary shelter. The concerned fie department termed the blaze as one of the worst it had
ever dealt with. As per the report filed by the police, an accidental fire in one car which spread to other vehicles
appeared to have been the cause for the fire. Nearby apartments had to be evacuated due to smoke. People were
Proceedings of National Conference: Advanced Structures, Materials and Methodology in Civil Engineering
(ASMMCE 2018), 03 - 04th November, 2018
PAPER CODE: C503
ASMMCE’18 Rajora, D. 597
also frightened by the noise as car windows exploded during the fire. About 21 fire engines were put into service
for dousing the fire. The risk of building collapse made the situation worse. All vehicles left in the 1,600-
capacity car park were destroyed. The temperature reached during the blaze was between 800C and 1,000 degree
C. Although crews attended within eight minutes of the alarm, the flames spread so quickly they were not able to
control the blaze. A study conducted afterwards concluded that the sprinkler system would have stopped the fire
in time. Moreover, a sprinkler system would certainly have limited the spread and given a much better
opportunity to put the fire out before it spread to the extent it did.
Control Measures for Fire Prevention and Mitigation
The sorts of fire protection framework introduced in parking lots have to be site-specific. The main control
systems are smoke detection system, a sprinkler system and a programmed fire detection system (Merci and
Shipp 2013). Investigations of previous accidents completed across various countries have demonstrated that
sprinkler frameworks in parking structures help extraordinarily in protecting lives & lessen harm by fire.
Automobile parking lots are outlined with lower rooftop stature, permitting sudden sprinkler action. But as
vehicles do not allow the penetration of water, installing sprinkler system framework doesn’t have any impact on
the fires inside car. Sprinklers work by creating a cooling effect. As a result of the water emanating from
sprinklers, the temperature gets cooler, which in turn, prevent the fire spread. However, sprinklers don’t help in
expelling the dangerous gases and smoke formed by fire (Jian-pinget al. 2011). At least one method for
ventilation of smoke and warmth is needed in all vehicle parking areas. Ventilation is an important factor,
clearly demonstrated by many researches to tremendously lessen the probability of flame spreading between
neighbouring autos. As an extra measure of assurance, programmed fire detector is generally provided to
provide a rapid reaction to the occurrence of fire. Impulse fan, if installed, assists drawing out harmful gas and
smoke towards proper exit points (Wang and Yan 2008).
Apart from the above, other measures have significance for controlling fire in a parking lot are: passage forfire
engine to enter and exit the parking in a quicker manner, private fire hydrant, hose reels, Firefighting staircase
for cars with more height(Matsushita et al. 1993).
The parameters for a suitable car parking lot design should include: easy and simple entrance and exit to and
from the car lot; uncomplicated flow of traffic in and around the parking lot; proper ventilationand low
maintenance. In order to satisfy all these above requirements for a proper car parking design, steel construction
is a very suitable solution. Thus various advantages of steel construction include: lower dead load, faster
construction, low maintenance and highly resistant to fire (Wang 2014). For making general public aware, safety
drills can also be conducted based on the different scenarios which are assumed to be found in the parking
structures to calculate the best response to be useful in emergencies.
Conclusions
This study reviews the fire in car parking lots and sheds light on the causes and solutions for the same. It is very
important to identify and analyse the sources from which a fire could occur in a car parking lot.The sources like
highly combustible material and loose wiring etc. need to be kept away or monitored intensively. The building
design and the materials used in constructing the parking lot have a vital role to play and it is required on the
part of the builders to keep fire safety in mind while constructing a parking lot. The relevant codes and standards
should be followed while designing the parking lots. It would help control various hazards in parking structures.
Various fire protection systems e.g. smoke and fire detection system and sprinkler systems in parking lots may
control the fire in origin as well as its spread.
References
Chow, W. (1998). "On safety systems for underground car parks."Tunneling and Underground Space
Technology13(3): 281-287.
Jian-ping, Y., Zheng, F., Zhi, T., Jia-yun, S. (2011)."Numerical Simulations on Sprinkler System and Impulse
Ventilation in an Underground Car Park." Procedia Engineering11: 634-639.
Matsushita, K., Miura, S., Ojima, T. (1993). "An environmental study of underground parking lot developments
in Japan."Tunnelling and Underground Space Technology8(1): 65-73.
Merci, B. and M. Shipp (2013). "Smoke and heat control for fires in large car parks: Lessons learnt from
research?" Fire safety journal57: 3-10.
Proceedings of National Conference: Advanced Structures, Materials and Methodology in Civil Engineering
(ASMMCE 2018), 03 - 04th November, 2018
PAPER CODE: C503
ASMMCE’18 Rajora, D. 598
Mz, M. T. and Spearpoint,M. (2014). "Development of fire scenarios for car parking buildings using risk
analysis." Fire Safety Science11: 944-957.
EC (1999). Development of design rules for steel structures subjected to natural fires in Closed Car
Parks.European Commission. ISBN: 92-828-7164-9
DCLG (2010). "Fire spread in car parks." BD2552, Department for Communities and Local Government.
PJHJ, W.V.D., Borgers, A.W.J., Timmermans, H.J.P. (2003). "Travelers micro-behavior at parking lots-a model
of parking choice behavior."
Wang, Z. and Yan, Q. (2008)."The Study on the Fire Incipient Fault and the Fire Countermeasure of the Large-
scale Underground Garage [J]." Journal of Chinese People's Armed Police Force Academy8: 021.
Zhao, B. and J. Kruppa (2004)."Structural behaviour of an open car park under real fire scenarios." Fire and
materials28(24): 269-280.
Fettah, B. (2016). Fire analysis of car park building structures.
Wang, Y. C. (2014). Steel and composite structures: Behaviour and design for fire safety, CRC Press.
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Development of design rules for steel structures subjected to natural fires in Closed Car Parks
  • Ec
EC (1999). Development of design rules for steel structures subjected to natural fires in Closed Car Parks.European Commission. ISBN: 92-828-7164-9
BD2552, Department for Communities and Local Government
  • Dclg
DCLG (2010). "Fire spread in car parks." BD2552, Department for Communities and Local Government.