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Improving Survivability in Motor Vehicle Fires.

pdf icon Improving Survivability in Motor Vehicle Fires. (51 K)
Digges, K. H.; Gann, R. G.; Grayson, S. J.; Hirschler, M. M.; Lyon, R. E.; Purser, D. A.; Quintiere, J. G.; Stephenson, R. R.; Tewarson, A.

Volume 1;

Interflam 2007. (Interflam '07). International Interflam Conference, 11th Proceedings. Volume 1. September 3-5, 2007, London, England, 135-143 pp, 2007.


motor vehicle fires; survivability; safety measures; safety standards; automobile fires; fire statistics; fire tests; flashover; large scale fire tests; plastics; equations; crashworthiness


Automobile fires are consistently among the largest causes of fire death in the United States (about 500 annually) and the U.S. motor vehicle industry has spent $14 million in recent years studying this problem. The authors of this review have analyzed the auto industry reports, the scientific literature, and statistical data, and conclude that measures should be taken to improve survivability in automobile fires. The US Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 302 was introduced almost 40 years ago to measure the flammability of interior materials, but improvements in the crashworthiness of automobiles and their fuel tanks and the increased use of combustible materials has changed the motor vehicle fire scenario significantly. In particular, the primary threat has changed from ignition of a small quantity of combustible interior materials by a lit cigarette, in 1960, to ignition of a large quantity of combustible interior and exterior materials by an impact-induced fire, at present. The authors therefore suggest that FMVSS 302 is no longer relevant to automobile fire safety and recommend improved standards based on objective criteria for fire safety performance (fireworthiness) at the system/vehicle level as is routinely done for crashworthiness.