FIRE SAFETY engineering and design is becoming more sophisticated believes Professor Ed Galea, director of fire safety engineering at Greenwich University. Galea was the keynote speaker at the ICE's 'Shaping the Future of Fire Safety' conference last week.
He told the audience that sophisticated software packages that will allow designers to model how fire spreads, human behaviour and structural performance are the future of fire safety engineering.
'Over the last 30 years modelling human movement has assumed that people are non-thinking and move like automatons that will miraculously split into even groups and move calmly to the nearest exit, ' said Galea.
'What really happens is adaptive behaviour; people always use the main exits not the fire exits and we have to model this type of action, ' he added.
Galea uses observational data obtained through watching real events and speaking to survivors of fires to model this behaviour accurately.
The spread of fire can be modelled using computational fluid dynamics (CFD). And integrated modelling will require closer interaction between CFD specialists and engineers, he explained.
'Using CFD requires a lot of expertise and specialists should work with fire engineers to get more meaningful information out of the models. Good software should be able to integrate these two disciplines, ' he said.
Galea has been using the EXODUS software developed at Greenwich University to carry out a range of research projects for clients including the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (ODPM) and British Airways.
Research topics include the twin towers (see News) and the new generation of aeroplanes known as the 'flying wing'.
His team is working on evacuation procedures that will get 1,000 passengers out of this futuristic plane within 90 seconds.
Other speakers at the event included Dr David Peace of the ODPM, Ron Bell from the Health & Safety Executive, Adair Lewis of the Fire Prevention Association and Andrew Marles of the Chief Fire Officers Association.