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Effects of a Combustible Ceiling in a Burning Compartment on the Carbon Monoxide Levels in an Adjacent Corridor.

pdf icon Effects of a Combustible Ceiling in a Burning Compartment on the Carbon Monoxide Levels in an Adjacent Corridor. (475 K)
Lattimer, B. Y.; Vandsburger, U.; Roby, R. J.

National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and Society of Fire Protection Engineers (SFPE). International Conference on Fire Research and Engineering (ICFRE). Proceedings. September 10-15, 1995, Orlando, FL, SFPE, Boston, MA, Lund, D. P.; Angell, E. A., Editor(s)(s), 21-26 pp, 1995.


National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD


fire research; ceilings; combustibles; compartments; carbon monoxide; corridors; experiments


Exhaust gas inhalation is responsible for approximately two-thirds of the deaths in building fires. Many fatalities in building fires occur in enclosed locations remote from the burning compartment. A major component of the fire exhaust gases which are transported throughout a building is the odorless and colorless gas, carbon monoxide. In 1987, three people died due to carbon monoxide poisoning in the upstairs of a townhouse in Sharon, Pennsylvania. Extremely high levels of carboxyhemoglobin, 91%, were present in one of the victim's bloodstream. This prompted an investigation by NIST/BFRL to simulate the townhouse fire. The source of the fire was in the kitchen of the townhouse where a large amount of wood (wood paneling and cabinets) was located. The CO levels existing the kitchen were found to be as high as 8.5%-dry, while the levels upstairs where the bedrooms were located was 5.0%-dry. Experiments performed by Pitts and his coworkers in a reduced-scale concentrations were 6%-dry or greater in the rear and 12%-dry in the front of the compartment. This was a dramatic increase from the CO concentrations, approximately 4%-dry in the front and 3%-dry in the rear, seen in the non-combustible compartment. The portion of the building fire research ongoing at VPI & SU presented herein involves an investigation of the evolution of exhaust gases from an underventilated liquid hexane pool fire inside a reduced-scale compartment with and without a Douglas fir plywood ceiling. The work focused on the production of carbon monoxide (CO) and unburned hydrocarbons (UHC) inside the compartment and the transport and oxidation of the fire exhaust gases in a corridor adjacent to the burning compartment. The results of the experiments were compared to those reported by Pitts.