The Phase II fire is a condition similar to an air-
plane crash. A
has already occurred. An "out
of control" fire is already in progress. The only pointthat remains in question is the extent of the disaster.
THE PHASE I FIRE
Until very recently, fire technology was almost
totally controlled by the insurance industry. This
industry has been concerned with protecting
property. Thus the testing procedures that evolvedwere oriented toward Phase II fire conditions.
But, from a human life viewpoint, it is the Phase I
fire that is important for these reasons:
Fire can be readily controlled during the Phase I
Deadly conditions usually develop late in the
Phase I fire and when the Phase II stage is entered
deaths may have already occurred.
Permitting a fire to pass thru Phase I (where
detection and control is an easy matter) and enter the
Phase II stage represents an unacceptable conditionfrom a human viewpoint.
Those who place human life above the building
value must consider the control of the Phase I fire
their primary concern.
SYSTEMS SAFETY VS STRUCTURAL SAFETY
The structural fire safeguards, such as fireproofing
of the steel, exit ways, and fire compartments are
intended to perform after the fire has entered Phase
I I .
The building is becoming untenable, and the
occupants must leave to survive. The costs of these
systems often run to 20% of the total cost of the
building and sometimes higher. These are secondary
safeguards which become important only after failure
(the entering of Phase II) has already occurred.
The detection and control of the Phase I fire is
simple and inexpensive. Research indicates a water
supply of 5 to
GPM is adequate to control fire in
human occupancies. However, because of many
years of improper obstructions to sprinkler system
improvements, current sprinkler designs often require
water supplies in the 250 GPM to 500 GPM range.
Even this represents a major recent breakthrubecause fire regulations had previously forced
sprinkler design into the 500 to 2000 GPM range forhuman type occupancies.
With modest research, a plastic pipe sprinkler
system could be developed that would provide ex-
tremely close to 100% control of the Phase I fire for aprice in the range of 2°/0 to 3°/0 of the building cost.
D. THE HAZARD OF MATERIALS
Fire tests have been developed to test the burning
characteristics of plastic materials and to grade their
Often these tests have been oriented toward thePhase II fire. That is, a material has been judged on
the basis of an exposure to a severe fire. An example
is the carpet tests where many wood cribs were
burned in a confined area to produce enough heat to
vaporize the carpet on the floor. This proved that a
floor covering can sometimes enter the Phase II fire.But in the Phase II fire
behave the same way — they burn. Important dif-
ferences in combustibles that are apparent during the
Phase I fire tend to become obscure in the Phase II
The testing of combustible materials for their
characteristics under Phase II fire conditions could be
defined as testing for conditions where man is already
The important thing is how a combustible material
reacts in the Phase I fire.
Here are the dangerous characteristics of a
material from the Phase I fire viewpoint.
Ignites at a very low temperature (under say500° F).
Has rapid flame spread characteristics.
Note that the characteristics that are considered
dangerous can have the result of
Initiating a fire.
Rapidly bringing fire thru Phase I into the Deadly
Phase II stage.
The physical state also is important. Normal
combustibles can become unusually dangerous whenfinely divided, or in thin layers, and are otherwise so
arranged as to promote rapid fire development. A
high pile of wood pallets is an example. Of course,materials that are in the liquid phase at room tem-
perature also have special dangerous characteristics.Materials that produce "unusually toxic" gases or
unusual volumes of smoke also may represent a
special danger. However, the evidence is not clear in
this regard. Why this is so becomes apparent when
fire is properly considered to consist of two phases.
During the pre flashover fire the amount of
combustibles burning generally is rather small. The
burning of a single overstuffed chair can bring a room
to flashover. During this Phase I period, the fire maybe smoky, and perhaps gases such as HCL are beingproduced. But even so, the total quantity is still quite
small in terms of fire scaling.
Once Phase 11 is entered the rate of production of
toxic gases, smoke, and heat increases fantastically.
Phase 11 makes everything that happened in Phase I
seem superficial. But once Phase 11 is entered
combustibles behave in a most dangerous manner.
Therefore, when judging the characteristics of
combustibles, the really serious characteristics may
1. An ability to initiate fire (autoignition or very low
A rapid rate of flame spread, or fire
propagation, which will bring about an early enteringof Phase II.
Establish a recognized "standard" Life Safety
Time Temperature Curve that will be a standard fire
test curve for testing of sprinkler system per-