Effects of a Combustible Ceiling in a Burning Compartment on the Carbon Monoxide Levels in an Adjacent Corridor.
Effects of a Combustible Ceiling in a Burning
Compartment on the Carbon Monoxide Levels in an Adjacent
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.
Sponsor:National Institute of Standards and Technology,
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.