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Heat Release Rate: The Single Most Important Variable in Fire Hazard.

pdf icon Heat Release Rate: The Single Most Important Variable in Fire Hazard. (862 K)
Babrauskas, V.; Peacock, R. D.

Fire Retardant Chemicals Association (FRCA). Fire Safety Developments and Testing: Toxicity--Heat Release--Product Development--Combustion Corrosivity. Proceedings. Fall Meeting, 1990. October 20-25, 1990, Ponte Vedra Beach, FL, FRCA, Lancaster, PA, 67-80 pp, 1990.

Fire Safety Journal, Vol. 18, No. 3, 255-272, 1992.


heat release rate; fire hazard; fire endurance; building fires; fire tests


Heat release rate measurements are sometimes seen by manufacturers and product users as just another piece of data to gather. It is the purpose of this paper to explain why heat release rate is in fact, the single most important variable in characterizing the 'flammability' of products and their consequent fire hazard. Examples of typical fire histories are given which illustrate that even though fire deaths are primarily caused by toxic gases, the heat release rate is the best predictor of fire hazard. Conversely, the relative toxicity of the combustion gases plays a smaller role. The delays in ignition time, as measured by various Bunsen burner type tests, also have only a minor effect on the development of fire hazard.