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Estimating Temperatures

in Compartment Fires 30
William D. Walton, Philip H. Thomas,
and Yoshifumi Ohmiya

Introduction along with the growth stages. Fire safety design

in terms of evacuation and fire resistance was
The ability to predict temperatures developed examined by taking into account fire stage. The
in compartment fires is of great significance to stage of ignition and growth are very significant
the fire protection professional for protection of to estimate the time for fire detectors and sup-
human life and property. There are many uses for pression systems to activate. The stage of fully-
a knowledge of compartment fire temperatures, developed fire is important for the fire resistance
including the prediction of (1) the onset of haz- of building loadbearing elements and separating
ardous conditions, (2) property and structural elements.
damage, (3) changes in burning rate, pyrolysis 1. Ignition
rate and heat (energy) release rate, (4) ignition of 2. Growth
objects,(5) the onset of flashover and so on. 3. Flashover
The fundamental principles underlying com- 4. Fully-developed fire
partment fires are presented in Chap. 29. This 5. Decay
chapter gives a number of simplified solution Although many fires will not follow this ide-
techniques. alization, it provides a useful framework for the
discussion of compartment fires. All fires include
an ignition stage but, beyond that, may fail to
Fire Stages grow, or they may be affected by manual or
automatic suppression activities before going
In this chapter, compartment fires are defined as through all of the stages listed above.
fires in enclosed spaces, which are commonly
thought of as rooms in buildings, but may include
other spaces such as those found in transportation Growth Stage Definitions
vehicles such as ships, planes, trains, and the like.
Compartment fires are often discussed in Ignition Stage The period during which the fire
terms of growth stages [1]. Figure 30.1 shows begins in a compartment.
an idealized variation of temperature with time
Growth Stage Following ignition, the fire
initially grows primarily as a function of the
fuel itself, with little or no influence from
the compartment. The fire can be described in
W.D. Walton (*) • P.H. Thomas • Y. Ohmiya terms of its rate of energy and combustion
product generation. A discussion of energy

M.J. Hurley (ed.), SFPE Handbook of Fire Protection Engineering, 996

DOI 10.1007/978-1-4939-2565-0_30, # Society of Fire Protection Engineers 2016
30 Estimating Temperatures in Compartment Fires 997

Fig. 30.1 General

description of room fire
in absence of fire control Postflashover

Temperature rise
Fully developed fire

Ignition Decay


generation or burning rate can be found in pyrolized than can be burned with the oxygen
Chap. 26. If sufficient fuel and oxygen are avail- available in the compartment. In this case, the
able, the fire will continue to grow, causing the fire is said to be ventilation controlled. If there
temperature in the compartment to rise. Fires are openings in the compartment, the unburned
with sufficient oxygen for combustion are said fuel will leave the compartment in the gas flow
to be fuel controlled or well-ventilated. and may burn outside of the compartment. It will
cause fire spread to upper floors and neighboring
Flashover Flashover is generally defined as the buildings. During the fully developed stage, the
transition from a growing fire to a fully devel- environment within the compartment has a sig-
oped fire in which all combustible items in the nificant effect on the pyrolysis rate of the burning
compartment are involved in fire. During this objects.
transition there are rapid changes in the compart-
ment environment. Flashover is not a precise Decay Stage Decay occurs as the fuel becomes
term, and several variations in definition can be consumed, and the heat release rate and temperature
found in the literature. However the onset of within a compartment decline. The fire may change
flashover should be estimated for considering from ventilation to fuel controlled during this
fire safety. Most have criteria based on the period.
temperature at which the radiation from the
hot gases in the compartment will ignite all of
the combustible contents. Gas temperatures of Compartment Fire Phenomena
300–650  C have been associated with the
onset of flashover, although temperatures of Compartment Fire Model
500–600  C are more widely used [2]. The igni-
tion of unburnt fuel in the hot fire gases, the In order to calculate or predict the temperatures
appearance of flames from openings in a and other properties generated in a compartment
compartment, or the ignition of all of the fire, a description or model of the fire phenomena
combustible contents may actually be different must be created. This model will be described in
phenomena all related to flashover. terms of physical equations that can be solved to
predict the temperature in the compartment. Such
Fully Developed Fire During this stage, the a model is, therefore, an idealization of the com-
heat release rate of the fire is the greatest. The partment fire phenomena. Consider a fire that
fire behavior in this stage is influenced by starts at some point below the ceiling. It releases
conditions of enclosure such as the size and con- energy and products of combustion at a rate that
struction materials, size and form of openings, may change with time. The hot products of
type amount and distribution of fuel in the enclo- combustion form a plume that, due to buoyancy,
sure. Frequently during this stage more fuel is rises toward the ceiling above heat source. As the
998 W.D. Walton et al.

Fig. 30.2 Two-layer

model with no exchange
between layers except the
Hot upper layer •
T∞ Tg

ma Xd XN

plume rises, it draws in cool air from within

the compartment, decreasing the plume’s tem-
perature and increasing its volume flow rate. Convention
Radiation from
When the plume reaches the ceiling, it spreads upper layer Enthalpy
out under ceiling. When the extension of hot flow
current under ceiling reaches the walls, the flow
turns downward and forms a hot gas layer that Radiation Convention
descends with time as the plume’s gases continue Energy from flame
to flow into it. There is a relatively sharp inter-
face between the hot upper layer and the air in the
lower part of the compartment. The only Fig. 30.3 Energy balance of compartment fire during
assumed interchange between the air in the Two-layer condition
lower part of the room and the hot upper layer
comprised of products of combustion is through Calculation of Compartment Fire
the plume. As the hot layer descends and reaches Temperatures
openings in the compartment walls (e.g., doors
and windows), hot gas will flow out the openings The basic principle used to calculate the temper-
and outside air will flow into the openings. This ature in a compartment fire is the conservation of
description of compartment fire phenomena is energy. In order to estimate the temperature in
referred to as a two-layer or zone model. The enclosure, energy balance can be assumed as
basic compartment fire phenomena are shown shown in Fig. 30.3.
schematically in Fig. 30.2. As applied to the hot upper layer, the conser-
The two-layer concept assumes that the vation of energy can be simply stated as follows:
compositions of the layers are uniform, that is, the energy added to the hot upper layer by the fire
that the temperature and other properties are the equals the energy lost from the hot layer plus the
same throughout each layer. Although the tem- time rate of change of energy within the
perature of the lower layer will rise during the hot upper layer. From the time rate of change of
course of the fire, the temperature of the upper energy within the hot layer, the temperature
layer will remain greater and is the most impor- of the layer can be computed. Conservation of
tant factor in compartment fires. The assumptions energy can also be applied to the lower layer.
may be less valid for very large spaces or for long, Since the volume of the upper layer changes with
narrow spaces such as corridors and shafts. To time, and mass flows in and out of the upper
describe the vertical distribution, multi-layer layer, conservation of mass must be used along
models were being developed [3]. with the conservation of energy. Because the
30 Estimating Temperatures in Compartment Fires 999

energy generated by the fire and the temperatures where

in the compartment vary as a function of time, ṁf ¼ Mass burning rate of the fuel (kg/s)
the application of conservation of energy will q ¼ Heat flux to the fuel surface(kW/m2)
result in a series of differential equations. For A ¼ Suraface area of the fuel(m2)
the purposes of examining the components of L ¼ Heat of gasification (kJ/kg)
the conservation of energy, the steady-state At initial stage in compartment fire, the
expressions for the conservation of energy in heat flux to surface of the fuel is due to the
the hot upper layer will be used. flame generated above the fuel. In case that com-
The transport of energy in a compartment fire partment fire reached flashover, it is due to the
is a very complex process. In order to formulate gas around fuel. If there are oxygen in the enclo-
expressions for the conservation of energy in a sure, pyrolysis products react with oxygen,
practical way, a number of assumptions must be generating heat and producing flames. The rate
made. It is possible to formulate the equations in of energy release is equal to the mass loss rate
a number of ways, based on the level of detail of the fuel times the heat of combustion of
desired. The expressions and assumptions used in the fuel:
this chapter are based on those commonly found
in the fire research literature and represent a Q_ ¼ m_ f Δhc ð30:2Þ
somewhat simplified description of the phenom-
ena. Additional details may be found in the where
references cited. Q_ ¼ Energy release rate of the fire (kW)
The steady-state conservation of energy for ṁf ¼ Mass burning rate of the fuel (kg/s)
the hot upper gas layer in a compartment can be Δhc ¼ Effective heat of combustion of the fuel
simply stated as follows: the energy generated by (kJ/kg)
the fire and added to the hot layer equals the The effective heat of combustion is the heat of
energy lost from the hot layer through radiation combustion expected in a fire where incomplete
and convection plus the energy convected out of combustion takes place. This amount is less than
the compartment openings. the theoretical heat of combustion as measured in
the oxygen bomb calorimeter [4].
The effective heat of combustion is often
Energy Generated by the Fire described as a fraction of the theoretical heat of
combustion. The effect of fluctuations is largely
The energy generated by the fire is the primary neglected.
influence on the temperature in a compartment In fuel-controlled fires, there is sufficient air
fire, and much research has been conducted in to react with all the fuel within the compartment.
predicting the energy release rate of many fuels In ventilation-controlled fires, there is insuffi-
under a variety of conditions. This discussion cient air within the compartment, and some of
will focus on flaming combustion, as it is the pyrolysis products will leave the compart-
most important in generating a significant tem- ment, possibly to react outside the compartment.
perature rise in a compartment. A discussion of For calculating the temperatures produced in
non-flaming combustion is found in Chap. 19. As compartment fires, the primary interest is the
a fuel is heated it releases pyrolysis products. The energy released within the compartment.
amount of pyrolysis products depends on fuel The pyrolysis rate of the fuel depends on the
properties, incident heat flux to surface of fuel, fuel type, its geometry, and the fire-induced envi-
oxygen mass fraction in the enclosure and so ronment. The energy generated in the compart-
on. The fortmula to estimate the mass burning ment by the burning pyrolysis products then
rate of the fuel can be given as follows, depends on the conditions (temperature, oxygen
concentration, etc.) within the compartment. The
m_ f ¼ qA=L ð30:1Þ processes involved are complex, and some are
1000 W.D. Walton et al.

not well understood, but for two fire types some Conservation of Mass
simplifying assumptions can lead to useful
methods for approximating the energy released The mass flow into the compartment and the flow
by the fire. out are related by
Fuel-controlled fires are defined as those in
which the pyrolysis rate and the energy release m_ g ¼ m_ a þ m_ f ð30:3Þ
rate are affected only by the burning of the fuel where ṁf is the mass burning rate of the fuel
itself and not by the room environment, analo- (kg/s).
gous to a fire burning outdoors on a calm day. The mass flow rate of hot gas out of a window
Babrauskas has provided data on free-burning or door is given by Rockett as [7]:
fires in Chap. 26. This data is most useful for
estimating burning rates of primarily horizontal 2 T1 T 1 1=2
m_ g ¼ Cd W o ρ1 2g 1 ðH o  XN Þ3=2
fuels in preflashover fires, where the primary 3 Tg Tg
heating of the fuel is from the flames of the ð30:4Þ
burning item itself. Vertical fuels, such as wall
linings and fuels located in the upper hot gas where
layer, will likely be influenced by the ṁg ¼ Mass flow rate of hot gas out an opening
preflashover room environment. (kg/s)
Ventilation-controlled fires are defined as Cd ¼ Orifice constriction coefficient
those in which the energy release rate in the (typically  0.7)
room is limited by the amount of available Wo ¼ Width of opening (m)
oxygen. The mass flow rate of air or oxygen Ho ¼ Height of opening (m)
into the room through a door or window can be ρ1 ¼ Ambient air density (kg/m3)
calculated from the expressions described g ¼ Acceleration due to gravity, 9.8 m/s2
below and in Chap. 23. For most fuels [5], the XN ¼ Height of neutral plane (m)
heat released per mass of air consumed is a Tg ¼ Temperature of the hot upper gas layer (K)
constant approximately equal to 3000 KJ/kg. T1 ¼ Ambient temperature (K)
Therefore, the rate of energy release of the The mass flow rate of air into a door or
fire can be approximated from the air window is given by
inflow rate.   
The amount of energy released by the fire 2 T 1 1=2
m_ g ¼ Cd W o ρ1 2g 1  ðXN  Xd Þ1=2
that enters the hot upper layer is a function of 3 Tg
the fire, layer conditions, and geometry. For  ðXN þ Xd =2Þ
most fires, approximately 35 % of the energy ð30:5Þ
released by the fire leaves the fire plume as
radiation [6]. (A discussion of flame radiation where
can be found in Chap. 23.) In a compartment Xd ¼ Height of the interface (m).
fire, a fraction of the radiated energy reaches the The expressions for mass flow in and mass
upper layer. The majority of the remaining flow out cannot be solved directly for Tg since
energy released by the fire is convected into the height to the neutral plane and interface are
the upper layer by the plume. As the plume unknown. The complete solution of these
rises, it entrains air from the lower layer, thus equations requires expressions for plume entrain-
reducing its temperature and increasing the ment and additional energy equations and is nor-
mass flow rate. For a first approximation, it can mally carried out only in computer fire models. If
be assumed that all of the energy generated the mass burning rate of the fuel is small com-
by the fire is transported to the upper layer. For pared with the mass flow rate of air into the
a complete discussion of fire plumes see compartment, the mass flow out of the opening
Chap. 13. may be approximated as equal to the mass inflow
30 Estimating Temperatures in Compartment Fires 1001

rate. Flows out of vents in the ceiling are The Conseil International du Bâtiment (CIB)
discussed in Chap. 66. experiments upon which Law [11] has based her
For preflashover fires in compartments with method shows a dependence on AT. It seems
typical doors or windows, the neutral plane and possible that the wide use of Equation 30.7 is a
interface can be approximated at the midlevel of result of a concentration of experimental fires in
the opening. This approximation can only be rooms of a limited range of
made after the initial smoke filling of the com-
partment is complete, and flow in and out of the AT
opening is established. Ao H o
For fires nearing flashover and postflashover
fires, the interface between the upper and lower
AT ¼ Total area of the compartment enclosing
layers is located near the floor, and the flow
surfaces (m2)
reaches a maximum for a given upper gas temper-
Traditionally, energy balances were often
ature. Rockett [7] has shown the temperature
stated in terms of the energy produced by the
dependence on the flow becomes small above
burning fuel and, thereby, led to an effective
150  C and the flow into the compartment can be
pffiffiffiffiffiffi heat of combustion of the fuel. However, this
approximated as a constant multiplied by Ao H o . practice in principle leads to the same result—
Rockett calculated values for this constant of the energy produced is related to the air flow
0.40–0.61 kg/s · m5/2, depending on the dis- for ventilation-controlled fires. Kawagoe [9]
charge coefficient of the opening. Thomas and and Magnusson and Thelandersson [12] used
Heselden estimate the value of this constant at 10.75 MJ/kg for the effective heat of combustion
0.5 kg/s · m5/2, which is the value most com- of wood in the flaming phase for fully developed
monly found in the literature [8]. The resulting compartment fires. With 16.4 MJ/kg for the heat
approximation is then of combustion of wood volatiles, this setup
pffiffiffiffiffiffi corresponds to a combustion efficiency of
m_ a ¼ 0:5Ao Ho ð30:6Þ 10.75/16.4, which is virtually identical to the
0.65 used in several computer models.
By far most data are based on experiments in
Ao ¼ Area of opening (m2)
which the fuel was cellulosic, and much of the
Ho ¼ Height of opening (m)
pffiffiffiffiffiffi experimental data are based on wood in the form
The term Ao H o is commonly known as the of cribs. For the post-flashover burning of a dif-
ventilation factor. The first use of this type of ferent fuel with a different chemistry, the burning
opening flow analysis for evaluating rate expressions may still be used, as long as the
postflashover fire test data is attributed to fuel is a hydrocarbon producing approximately
Kawagoe [9]. From early work analyzing such 3000 kJ for each kg of air consumed in the
data, the empirical observation was made that combustion process. Because different fuels
wood fires in rooms with small windows appeared react differently to the thermal environment and
to burn at an approximate stoichiometric rate. will pyrolyze at different rates according to the
Although flames emerging from the windows energy requirements to produce volatiles, one
implied that some fuel was burning outside, can only estimate temperatures by evaluating
calculations often suggested that enough air was the differences or obtain maximum temperatures
entering the fire for stoichiometric burning. by using stoichiometry. Fuels more volatile than
Empirical observations on wood fires [9] led to wood will probably produce lower temperatures
pffiffiffiffiffiffi inside a compartment, even if the excess fuel
m_ f ¼ 0:09Ao H o ð30:7Þ
produces a greater hazard outside the compart-
There is now a body of data [10] that modifies ment. The assumptions that the energy is related
this simple proportionality between ṁf and to the air flow and that the fuel is in stoichiomet-
pffiffiffiffiffiffi ric proportion will give an upper estimate of
Ao H o .
1002 W.D. Walton et al.

temperatures for ventilation-controlled fires.

Since Equation 30.7 is close to stoichiometric, Methods for Predicting Preflashover
it could, coupled with the effective heat of com- Compartment Fire Temperatures
bustion of wood, give results close to an upper
temperature limit for other fuels. The solution of a relatively complete set of
equations for the conservation of energy requires
the solution of a large number of equations that
Conservation of Energy vary with time. Although individual energy
transport equations may be solved, in general
The heat generated by burning materials within there is not an explicit solution for a set of these
a compartment is absorbed by the enclosing equations. As a result, one of two approaches can
surfaces of the compartment and any other be taken. The first is an approximate solution
structural surfaces, by the surfaces of the fuel, accomplished by hand using a limiting set of
and by the incoming air and any excess fuel. assumptions. The second is a more complete
Heat is lost to the exterior in the flames and hot solution utilizing a computer program. In either
gases that exit from the openings in the com- case, a number of methods have been developed.
partment enclosing surfaces and by radiation The methods presented are those with the widest
through the openings. Table 30.1 gives an apparent acceptance in the fire protection com-
example of an experimental heat balance munity, each with different assumptions and
measured in a small compartment, for which limitations that should be understood before
unglazed windows provided ventilation from employing the method. The methods presented
the start of the fire. in this chapter predict average temperatures
Table 30.1 illustrates the significant amount of and are not applicable to cases where prediction
heat loss in the effluent gases and shows that, of local temperatures are desired. For example,
with decreasing window area, a larger proportion these methods should not be used to predict
of the heat released will be absorbed by the detector or sprinkler actuation or the
enclosing surfaces. The total heat released, temperatures of materials as a result of direct
assuming a complete burnout, is directly propor- flame impingement.
tional to the amount of the fire load, but the rate
of heat release may also be controlled by the
ventilation. In this example, with the lower fire Method of McCaffrey, Quintiere,
load, both window areas give sufficient ventila- and Harkleroad
tion for the fuel to burn at its maximum (free-
burning) rate but, with the doubled fire load, the McCaffrey, Quintiere, and Harkleroad have
burning rate is not doubled, because the window used a simple conservation of energy expression
area restricts the ventilation rate. and a correlation with data to develop an

Table 30.1 Heat balance measured in experimental fires in a compartment of 29 m2 floor area with a fire load
of wood cribs

Heat loss from hot gases (%)

Fire load Window Heat release Structural Feedback Window
(kg) area (m2) (kcal/s) Effluent gas surfaces to fuel radiation
877 11.2 1900 65 15 11 9
5.6 1900 52 26 11 11
1744 11.2 3200 61 15 11 13
5.6 2300 53 26 12 9
2.6 1600 47 30 16 7
30 Estimating Temperatures in Compartment Fires 1003

approximation of the upper layer temperature in where

a compartment [13]. Applying the conservation Cd ¼ Orifice constriction coefficient
of energy to the upper layer yields Wo ¼ Width of opening (m)
  Ho ¼ Height of opening (m)
Q_ ¼ m_ g c p T g  T 1 þ qloss ð30:8Þ ρ1 ¼ Ambient air density (kg/m3)
g ¼ Acceleration due to gravity, 9.8 m/s2
where XN ¼ Height of neutral plane (m)
Q_ ¼ Energy (heat) release rate of the fire (kW) Since XN primarily depends on Tg, Q, _ and
ṁg ¼ Gas flow rate out the opening (kg/s) geometric factors (Ho and Wo), ṁg may be
cp ¼ Specific heat of gas (kJ/kg · K) pffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffi pffiffiffiffiffiffi
replaced by gρ1 Ao H o in the two dimension-
Tg ¼ Temperature of the upper gas layer (K) less variables in Equation 30.11, without any loss
T1 ¼ Ambient temperature (K)
in generality. The effects of Tg and Q_ are
qloss ¼ Net radiative and convective heat trans-
incorporated into the correlation via other terms.
fer from the upper gas layer (kW)
Based on an analysis of test data, Equation 30.10
The left-hand side of Equation 30.8 is the
was written as a power-law relationship:
energy generated by the fire. On the right-hand
side, the first term is the heat transported from the !2=3
upper layer in the gas flow out an opening. The ΔT g ¼ 480 pffiffiffi pffiffiffiffiffiffi
second term is the net rate of radiative and con- g c p ρ1 T 1 A o H o
vective heat transfer from the upper layer, which !1=3
is approximately equal to rate of heat conduction h k AT
 pffiffiffi pffiffiffiffiffiffi
into the compartment surfaces. The rate of heat g c p ρ 1 Ao H o
transfer to the surfaces is approximated by
qloss ¼ hk AT T g  T 1 ð30:9Þ Ao ¼ Area of opening (m2)
where Ho ¼ Height of opening (m)
hk ¼ Effective heat transfer coefficient The numbers 480, 2/3, and 1/3 were deter-
(kW/m2K) mined by correlating the expression with the data
AT ¼ Total area of the compartment enclosing from over 100 experimental fires. These data
surfaces (m2) included both steady-state and transient fires in
Substituting Equation 30.9 into Equation 30.8 cellulosic and synthetic polymeric materials and
yields the non-dimensional temperature rise in gaseous hydrocarbon fuels. Compartment height
terms of two dimensionless groups: ranged from 0.3 to 2.7 m and floor areas from
  0.14 to 12.0 m2. The compartments contained a
ΔT g _ c p T 1 m_ g
¼   ð30:10Þ variety of window and door sizes. The term
T1 1 þ hk AT = c p m_ g raised to the 2/3 power in Equation 30.12
represents the ratio of the energy released to the
where ΔTg is the upper gas temperature rise
energy convected, and the term raised to the
above ambient (Tg– T1)(K).
1/3 power represents the energy lost divided
The mass flow rate of hot gas out of a window
by the energy convected.
or door can be rewritten from Equation 30.4:
Substituting the values for ambient conditions
2 T1 T 1 1=2
m_ g ¼ Cd W o H o ρ1 2g
1 g ¼ 9.8 m/s2
3 Tg Tg
 3=2 cp ¼ 1.05 kJ/kg · K
XN ρ1 ¼ 1.2 kg/m3
Ho T1 ¼ 295 K
ð30:11Þ into Equation 30.12 yields [14, 15]
1004 W.D. Walton et al.

!1=3 4. The energy release rate of the fire must be

ΔT g ¼ 6:85 pffiffiffiffiffiffi ð30:13Þ determined from data or other correlations.
Ao H o h k AT 5. The characteristic fire growth time and ther-
mal penetration time of the room-lining
The heat transfer coefficient can be determined materials must be determined in order to eval-
using a steady-state approximation when the time uate the effective heat transfer coefficient.
of exposure, t, is greater than the thermal pene- 6. The correlation is based on data from a limited
tration time, tp, by number of experiments and does not contain
extensive data on ventilation-controlled fires
hk ¼ k=δ for t > tp ð30:14Þ
nor data on combustible walls or ceilings.
The thermal penetration time is defined as Most of the fuel in the test fires was near the
center of the room.
tp ¼ ð30:15Þ
k 2 Example of McCaffrey et al. Method Calculate
the upper-layer temperature of a room 3  3 m
where in floor area and 2.4 m high with a door opening
ρ ¼ Density of the compartment surface (kg/m3) 1.8 m high and 0.6 m wide. The fire source is a
c ¼ Specific heat of the compartment surface steady 750 kW fire. The wall-lining material is
material (kJ/kgK) 0.016 m (5/8 in.) gypsum plaster on metal lath.
k ¼ Thermal conductivity of compartment sur- Perform the calculation at times of 10, 60, and
face (kW/m · K) 600 s after ignition. Using Equation 30.12,
δ ¼ Thickness of compartment surface (m)
t ¼ Exposure time (s) Q_
tp ¼ Thermal penetration time (s) ΔT g ¼ 480 pffiffiffi pffiffiffiffiffiffi
g c p ρ1 T 1 A o H o
When the time of exposure is less than the
penetration time, an approximation based on !1=3
hk A T
conduction in a semi-infinite solid is  pffiffiffi pffiffiffiffiffiffi
g c p ρ1 A o H o
hk ¼ for t  tp ð30:16Þ where
cp ¼ 1 kJ/kgK
If there are several wall and/or ceiling materials T1 ¼ 27  C (300 K)
in the compartment, an area-weighted average ρ1 ¼ 1.18 kg/m3
for hk should be used. Ao ¼ 1.8 m  0.6 m ¼ 1.08 m2
The limitations as stated by McCaffrey g ¼ 9.8 m/s2
et al. on the use of this method for estimating Ho ¼ 1.8 m
temperatures are as follows: Q_ ¼ 750 kW
1. The correlation holds for compartment upper- AT ¼ Awalls þ Afloor þ Aceiling  Aopenings
layer gas temperatures up to approximately ¼ 4  ð3  2:4Þ þ ð3  3Þ þ ð3  3Þ  1:08
600  C. ¼ 28:8 m2 þ 9m2 þ 9m2  1:08m2
2. It applies to steady-state as well as time- ¼ 45:72m2
dependent fires, provided the primary tran-
sient response is the wall conduction The wall heat loss coefficient, hk, is a func-
phenomenon. tion of time.
3. It is not applicable to rapidly developing fires (a) Calculate the thermal penetration time, tp.
in large enclosures in which significant fire ρc
growth has occurred before the combustion tp ¼
products have exited the compartment. k 2
30 Estimating Temperatures in Compartment Fires 1005

where Method of Foote, Pagni, and Alvares

ρ ¼ Wall material density (1440 kg/m3)
k ¼ 0.48  103 kW/mK The Foote, Pagni, and Alvares method follows
c ¼ 0.84 kJ/kgK the basic correlations of McCaffrey, Quintiere,
δ ¼ 0.016 m and Harkleroad and adds data for forced-
tp ¼ 161.3 s ventilation fires. Using Equation 30.10 and not
(b) Calculate hk at 10, 60, and 600 s. introducing an expression for doorway flow
For t<tp (10, 60 s), results in the expression [16]
 1=2 !0:72  
hk ¼
kρc ¼ 0:581 ΔT g Q_ hk AT 0:36
t ¼ 0:63
T1 m_ g c p T 1 m_ g c p
1. At t ¼ 10 s, ð30:17Þ
0:581 1=2 where
hk ¼ ¼ 0:24 kW=m2K ΔTg ¼ Upper gas temperature rise above
ambient (K)
2. At t ¼ 60 s, T1 ¼ Ambient air temperature (K)
  Q_ ¼ Energy (heat) release rate of the fire (kW)
0:581 1=2 ṁg ¼ Compartment mass ventilation rate (kg/s)
hk ¼ ¼ 0:098 kW=m2K
60 cp ¼ Specific heat of gas (kJ/kgK)
3. For t > tp (600 s) at t ¼ 600 s, hk ¼ Effective heat transfer coefficient
k 0:48  103 AT ¼ Total area of the compartment-enclosing
hk ¼ ¼ ¼ 0:03 kW=m2 K surfaces (m2)
δ 0:016
The coefficient and exponents are based on
data from well-ventilated tests in a compartment
(c) Calculate the compartment temperature at with a 6  4 m floor area and a height of 4.5 m
the three times using Equation 30.12. with ventilation rates of 110–325 g/s. The com-
1. At t ¼ 10 s, partment exhaust was through a 0.65  0.65 m
" #2=3 duct located 3.6 m above the floor. Four air
ΔT g ¼ 480 pffiffiffiffiffiffiffi pffiffiffiffiffiffiffi inlet openings were 0.5  0.12 m high, with
9:8 ð1Þ ð1:18Þ ð300Þ ð1:08Þ 1:8 centerlines 0.1 m above the floor. A methane gas
" #1=3 burner fire in the center of the floor with heat
ð0:24Þ ð45:72Þ
 pffiffiffiffiffiffiffi pffiffiffiffiffiffiffi release rates of 150–490 kW resulted in upper
9:8 ð1Þ ð1:18Þ ð1:08Þ 1:8
gas temperatures of approximately 100–300  C.
¼ 480ð0:47Þ2=3 ð2:05Þ1=3 Foote et al. have shown that the correlation for
¼ 227 K forced-ventilation fires agrees well with the data
presented by McCaffrey et al. for free ventilation
2. At t ¼ 60 s, fires with
pffiffiffi pffiffiffiffiffiffi

ΔT g ¼ 480ð0:47Þ2=3 ð0:837Þ1=3 m_  0:1 ρ1 gAo H o

¼ 307 K

3. At t ¼ 600 s, Example of Foote et al. Method Estimate the

temperature in a 5  5 m floor area and 4-m-high
ΔT g ¼ 480ð0:47Þ2=3 ð0:26Þ1=3 compartment having 0.025-m (1-in.) thick
¼ 453 K concrete walls. The forced-ventilation rate is
1006 W.D. Walton et al.

2.4 m3/s of air (5000 cfm). Perform the calculation Quintiere, and Harkleroad for naturally
for t>tp. The fire size is given as 1000 kW; ambi- ventilated compartments. Beyler offers an
ent air conditions at 300 K. Using Equation 30.17, improved correlation for compartments where
the forced-ventilation flow rate is known
ΔT g Q_ hk AT 0:36 [17, 18]. This method begins by applying the
¼ 0:63
T1 m_ g c p T 1 m_ g c p conservation of energy in the upper layer of a
compartment. Combining Equations 30.8 and
where 30.9 yields
Q_ ¼ 1000 kW    
T1 ¼ 300 K Q_ ¼ m_ g c p T g  T 1 þ hk AT T g  T 1
cp ¼ 1.0 kJ/kgK ð30:18Þ
AT ¼ 4  (5  4) + 2 (5  5) ¼ 105 m2
ṁg ¼ (2.4 m3/s) (1.18 kg/m3) ¼ 2.8 kg/s where:
Calculate hk for t > tp. For 0.025-m-thick Q_ ¼ Energy (heat) release rate of the fire (kW)
concrete, ṁg ¼ Gas flow rate out the opening (kg/s)
δ ¼ 0.025 m cp ¼ Specific heat of gas (kJ/kgK)
ρ ¼ 2000 kg/m3 Tg ¼ Temperature of the upper gas layer (K)
k ¼ 1.4  103 kW/mK T1 ¼ Ambient temperature (K)
cp ¼ 0.88 kJ/kgK hk ¼ Effective heat transfer coefficient
AT ¼ Total area of the compartment enclosing
tp ¼
k 2 surfaces (m2)
   Rearranging Equation 30.18 yields
ð2; 000Þ  ð0:88Þ 0:025 2
1:4  103 2
¼ 196s for t > t p ΔT g ¼ ð30:19aÞ
m_ g c p þ hk AT
hk ¼ or
1:4  103 ΔT g m_ g c p 1
¼ ¼ ð30:19bÞ
0:025 Q_ 1 þ ðhk AT Þ=m_ g c p
¼ 0:056 kW=m2  K
where ΔT g ¼ T g  T 1 .
ΔT g 1, 000 A nondimensional temperature rise is
¼ ð0:63Þ
T1 ð2:8Þ ð1Þ ð300Þ defined as
ð0:056Þ ð105Þ 0:36 ΔT g m_ g c p
 ΔT*  ð30:20Þ
ð2:8Þ ð1Þ

ΔT g ¼ ð0:14Þ ðT 1 Þ and the ratio of the bounding surface loss to the

¼ 164 K ventilation losses is defined as
T g ¼ 164 þ 300 K ¼ 464 K
hk A T
Y*  1 þ ð30:21Þ
m_ g c p
Method of Beyler and Deal
By plotting ΔT* as a function of ΔY* for data
Beyler and Deal compared a number of methods with experiments with known ventilation rates
for naturally ventilated compartments to test data Beyler and Deal developed a correlation for the
and recommend the method of McCaffrey, effective heat transfer coefficient of
30 Estimating Temperatures in Compartment Fires 1007

rffiffiffiffiffiffiffi !
kρc k δ ¼ 0.25 m
hk ¼ 0:4max ; ð30:22Þ ρ ¼ 2000 kg/m3
t δ
k ¼ 1.4  103 kW/mK
where c ¼ 0.88 kJ/kgK
k ¼ Thermal conductivity of the compartment    
k 1:4  103
surface (kW/mK) hk ¼ 0:4 ¼ 0:4
ρ ¼ Density of the compartment surface (kg/m3) δ 0:25
c ¼ Specific heat of the compartment surface ¼ 0:0224 kW=m2  K
material (kJ/kgK)
δ ¼ Thickness of the compartment surface (m) (b) Calculate the compartment temperature
t ¼ Exposure time (s) using Equation 30.19a.
The expression switches from transient to 1000
steady state at a thermal penetration time of T g  300 ¼
ð2:8Þ ð1:0Þ þ ð0:224Þ ð105Þ
tp ¼ (ρc/k)δ2 rather than tp ¼ (ρc/k)(δ/2)2 used
by McCaffrey et al. and Foote et al. For the data T g ¼ 494 K
set Beyler and Deal evaluated, the standard error
for their method was 29 K as compared to 51 K Method of Peatross and Beyler
for the method of Foote et al., even though the
equation uses only one fitting constant. The correlations used in the McCaffrey,
Beyler and Deal demonstrated that this Quintiere, and Harkleroad method and the Beyler
method works for ventilation to the lower part and Deal method are based on the assumption of
of the compartment (with or without a plenum) normal insulating wall materials. For highly con-
as well as for ventilation to the upper part of the ductive walls such as steel, Peatross and Beyler
compartment. The Beyler and Deal method was suggest the use of an alternative heat transfer
based on data up to 2000 s into fire tests. At coefficient [19]. Using a lumped mass analysis
longer times, the heat loss model breaks down. for heat transfer through the wall that is appro-
priate for a highly conductive wall yields
Example of Beyler and Deal Method Estimate
the temperature in a 5  5 m floor area and 00 dT w  
4-m-high compartment with 0.025-m (1-in.) mw c ¼ hg T g  T w  h1 T w ð30:23Þ
thick concrete walls. The forced-ventilation rate
is 2.4 m3/s of air (5000 cfm). Perform the calcu- where
lation for t > tp. The fire size is given as ṁw ¼ Mass per unit area of the wall (kg/m2)
1000 kW; ambient air conditions at 300 K. c ¼ Specific heat of the wall (kJ/kgK)
Using Equation 30.19a, Tw ¼ Wall temperature (K)
t ¼ Time (s)
Q_ hg ¼ Heat transfer coefficient on the hot side of
Tg  T1 ¼
m_ g c p þ hk AT the wall (kW/m2K)
Tg ¼ Upper layer temperature (K)
H1 ¼ Heat transfer coefficient on the ambient
Q_ ¼ 1000 kW side of the wall (kW/m2K)
ṁg ¼ (2.4 m3/s) (1.18 kg/m3) ¼ 2.8 kg/s Solving for the wall temperature with the ini-
cp ¼ 1.0 kJ/kgK tial condition of the wall at ambient temperature
T1 ¼ 300 K yields
AT ¼ 4(5  4) + 2(5  5) ¼ 105 m2   
hg T g hg þ h1
Tw ¼ 1  exp  00 t ð30:24Þ
(a) Calculate hk for t > tp. For 0.25-m-thick hg þ h1 mw c
1008 W.D. Walton et al.

The heat transfer through the wall, q_ , may be The hk calculated with this method can be used
expressed in terms of the heat transfer to the hot directly in the Beyler and Deal method. It must
side of the wall or in terms of an overall effective be multiplied by 2.5 for use in the McCaffrey,
heat transfer coefficient, hk. Quintiere, and Harkleroad method to account for
the 0.4 fitting constant in the hk in the Beyler and
00     Deal method.
q_ ¼ hg T g  T w ¼ hk T g  T 1 ð30:25Þ

Solving for hk yields Example of Peatross and Beyler Method

for Forced Ventilation Estimate the tempera-
   ture in a 5  5 m floor area and 4-m-high com-
h2g hg þ h1
hk ¼ hg  1  exp  t partment having 0.00635-m (0.25-in.) thick,
hg þ h1 ρδc
0.5 % carbon steel walls. The forced-ventilation
ð30:26Þ rate is 2.4 m3/s of air (5000 cfm). Perform the
calculation for t ¼ 200 s. The fire size is given as
where 1000 kW; ambient air conditions at 300 K. Using
ρ ¼ Density of the wall material (kg/m3) Equation 30.19a,
δ ¼ Thickness of the wall (m)
hk ¼ Overall effective heat transfer coefficient Q_
Tg  T1 ¼
W/m2K m_ g c p þ hk AT
From the above equations it can be seen that
hg h1 Q_ ¼ 1000 kW
hk ¼ at t¼1
hg þ h1 ṁg ¼ (2.4 m3/s) (1.18 kg/m3) ¼ 2.8 kg/s
cp ¼ 1.0 kJ/kgK
hk ¼ hg at t¼0 T1 ¼ 300 K
AT ¼ 4(5  4) + 2(5  5) ¼ 130 m2
From a number of experiments, Peatross and
Beyler found the heat transfer coefficients of (a) Using Equation 30.27, calculate hk for t
30 W/m2K for hg and 20 W/m2K for h1. ¼ 200 s. For 0.25-m-thick, 0.5 % carbon
Substituting these values yields steel,
   δ ¼ 0.00635 m
50 ρ ¼ 7833 kg/m3
hk ¼ 30  18 1  exp  t ð30:27Þ
ρδc c ¼ 0.465 kJ/kgK

hk ¼ 30  18 1  exp  t
¼ 30  18 1  exp  200
ð7833Þ ð0:00635Þ ð0:465Þ
¼ 23:7 W=m2  K

(b) Calculate the compartment temperature Method of Beyler

using Equation 30.19a.
For compartments with no ventilation the
1, 000
T g  300 ¼ quasi-steady approximation used in many of the
ð2:8Þ ð1:0Þ þ ð0:0237Þ ð130Þ methods is not appropriate since the conditions
T g ¼ 470 K in the compartment will not reach steady state.
30 Estimating Temperatures in Compartment Fires 1009

Beyler applied a nonsteady energy balance to the which include the fitting coefficient. Beyler
closed compartment expressed by the differential used data with a maximum temperature rise of
equation [17] 150  C to develop this correlation.
mc p ¼ Q_  hk AT ΔT g ð30:28Þ Example of Beyler Method Estimate the
dt temperature in a 5  5 m floor area and 4-m-high
where “closed” compartment having 0.025-m (1-in.)
Q_ ¼ Energy (heat) release rate of the fire (kW) thick concrete walls. Perform the calculation for t
m ¼ Mass of the gas in the compartment (kg) ¼ 120 s. The fire size is given as 100 kW; ambient
cp ¼ Specific heat of gas (kJ/kgK) air conditions at 300 K. Using Equation 30.29,
ΔTg ¼ Tg – T1 2K 2 pffi pffi

Tg ¼ Temperature of the upper gas layer (K) ΔT g ¼ 2 K 1 t  1 þ eK1 t

T1 ¼ Ambient temperature (K)
hk ¼ Effective heat transfer coefficient where
(kW/m2K) T1 ¼ 300 K
AT ¼ Total area of the compartment enclosing t ¼ 120 s
surfaces (m2)
ρ ¼ Density of the compartment surface (kg/m3) (a) Calculate K1 using Equation 30.30.
δ ¼ Thickness of the compartment surface (m) pffiffiffiffiffiffiffi
2ð0:4 kρcÞAT
t ¼ Exposure time (s) K1 ¼
In this case a “closed” compartment has suffi- mc p

cient leaks to prevent pressure buildup, but the 2 0:4 1:4  103 ð2; 000Þ ð0:88Þ ð130Þ
leakage is ignored. The mass of the fuel is ¼
ð118Þ ð1:0Þ
ignored, and the initial temperature is assumed
¼ 1:3834
to be ambient temperature. For constant heat
release rate, the solution to Equation 30.28 is where
2K 2 pffi pffi
m ¼ (100 m3) (1.18 kg/m3) ¼ 118 kg
ΔT g ¼ 2 K 1 t  1 þ eK1 t ð30:29Þ cp ¼ 1.0 kJ/kgK
ρ ¼ 2000 kg/m3
where k ¼ 1.4  103 kW/mK
pffiffiffiffiffiffiffi c ¼ 0.88 kJ/kgK
2ð0:4 kρcÞAT AT ¼ 130 m2
K1 ¼ ð30:30Þ
mc p (b) Calculate K2 using Equation 30.31.

Q_ Q_ 100
K2 ¼ ð30:31Þ K2 ¼ ¼ ¼ 0:84746
mc p mc p ð118Þ ð1:0Þ

where where
k ¼ Thermal conductivity of the compartment m ¼ (100 m3) (1.18 kg/m3) ¼ 118 kg
surface (kW/mK) cp ¼ 1.0 kJ/kgK
c ¼ Specific heat of the compartment surface (c) Calculate the compartment temperature
material (kJ/kgK) using Equation 30.29.

ð2Þ ð0:84746Þ pffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffi pffiffiffiffiffiffi

T g  300 ¼ ð1:3834Þ 120  1 þ eð1:3834Þ 120

T g ¼ 312:5 K
1010 W.D. Walton et al.

formula of the fuel, taking the products to be

Methods for Predicting Postflashover CO2, H2O, and N2.
Compartment Fire Temperatures  
Cx H y Oz þ wO2 þ w N2
Method of Babrauskas 21
y 79
The following method is based on the work of ! xCO2 þ H2 O þ w N2 ð30:35Þ
2 21
Babrauskas [20, 21]. The upper gas temperature,
Tg, is expressed according to a series of factors, where
each one accounting for a different physical
phenomenon: 2x þ 2y=2  z
w¼ ð30:36Þ
T g ¼ T 1 þ ðT*  T 1 Þ  θ1  θ2  θ3  θ4  θ5
½w þ wð3:76Þ 28:97
where T* is an empirical constant ¼ 1725 K, and r¼ ð30:37Þ
the factors θ are in Equations 30.38, 30.43, 30.45, 12:01x þ 1:00y þ 16:00z
30.46, 30.48 and 30.49.
At stoichiometry ϕ ¼ 1, and it is greater than
1 for fuel-rich burning and less than 1 for fuel-
Burning Rate Stoichiometry, θ1 The dimen-
lean conditions.
sionless stoichiometric coefficient ϕ is defined as
The effect of ϕ on gas temperatures was
m_ f evaluated by numerical computations using the
ϕ¼ ð30:33Þ
m_ f , st COMPF2 computer program [22]. The efficiency
factor, θ1, accounts for deviation from stoichiom-
where ṁ is the fuel mass pyrolysis rate (kg/s), etry and is shown in Fig. 30.4. It is seen that the
and ṁf,st is the stoichiometric mass burning rate fuel-lean and the fuel-rich regimes exhibit a very
(i.e., no excess fuel and no excess oxygen). different dependence. For the fuel-lean regime,
pffiffiffiffiffiffi the results can be approximated by
0:5Ao H o
m_ f , st ¼ ð30:34Þ
r θ1 ¼ 1:0 þ 0:51 ln ϕ for ϕ < 1 ð30:38Þ
where the ratio r is such that 1 kg fuel + r kg Similarly, in the fuel-rich regime a suitable
air ! (1 + r) kg products. The value of r is read- approximation is
ily computable for fuels containing carbon,
hydrogen, and/or oxygen from the chemical θ1 ¼ 1:0  0:05ðln ϕÞ5=3 for ϕ > 1 ð30:39Þ

Fig. 30.4 Effect 0.8

of equivalence ratio
Fuel lean
0.6 (1 – θ1) = 0.51 (lnφ)
(1 – θ1)

Fuel rich
(1 – θ1) = 0.05 (lnφ) 1.67

–1.6 –1.2 –0.8 –0.4 0 0.4 0.8 1.2 1.6
30 Estimating Temperatures in Compartment Fires 1011

Fig. 30.5 Effect of pool 1.0


(1 – θ1) = 0.092 (–lnη)1.25

(1 – θ1)

0.1 1.0 10

_ rather than mass loss rate,

If heat release rate, Q, σ ¼ Stefan-Boltzmann constant (5.67  1011
ṁ, is used, then kW/m2K4)
Tb ¼ Liquid boiling point temperature (K)
Q_ This expression unfortunately requires an esti-
ϕ¼ ð30:40Þ
Q_ stoich mate for Tg to be made, so for the pool fire case, a
certain amount of iteration is necessary. The
And since the stoichiometric heat release rate is
relationship above is plotted in Fig. 30.5.
Q_ ¼ 1, 500Ao Ho ð30:41Þ
Wall Steady-State Losses, θ2 The next effi-
then ciency factor, θ2, accounts for variable groups
of importance involving the wall surface (which
ϕ¼ pffiffiffiffiffiffi ð30:42Þ is defined to include the ceiling) properties: area
1, 500Ao H o
AT(m2), thickness L (m), density ρ (kg/m3), ther-
The value of Q_ can be determined from Chap. 26. mal conductivity k (kW/mK), and heat capacity
A separate procedure is necessary for pool cp(kJ/kgK). This factor is given as
fires, due to the strong radiative coupling. Here "
pffiffiffiffiffiffi2=3  1=3 #

Ao H o L
θ2 ¼ 1:0  0:94 exp 54
θ1 ¼ 1:0  0:092ðln ηÞ1:25 ð30:43Þ AT k

where ð30:45Þ
Ao H o 0:5Δh p and is shown in Fig. 30.6.
Af rσ T 4  T 4
g b
Wall Transient Losses, θ3 For the transient
where case, Equation 30.45 predicts the asymptotic
Δhp ¼ Heat of vaporization of liquid (kJ/kg) temperature value. An additional time-dependent
Af ¼ Pool area (m2) factor, however, is needed (Fig. 30.7).
1012 W.D. Walton et al.

Fig. 30.6 Effect of wall 0.7

steady-state losses
Values for


0.5 01 L
(m2·0 C/W)

0 K

0. .05
0.4 1

(1 – θ2)


1. 5
0.3 2. 0



0.001 0.01 0.1
A h (m1/2)

Fig. 30.7 Effect of wall 0.7

0.0 Values for
transient losses 00
0.0 2 t
0.6 00 (m4.0 C 2/W 2)
0. 5 ρC
0. 1
0.5 0. 2
0. 5
0. 01
(1 – θ3)




0.001 0.01 0.1
A h (m1/2)

" pffiffiffiffiffiffi0:6  0:4 #

Ao H o t is not a serious limitation, since the method is
θ3 ¼ 1:0  0:92 exp 150 only designed for postflashover fires.
AT κρc
For transient fires, the possibility of two sepa-
ð30:46Þ rate effects must be considered. First, the wall
where loss effect, represented by Equation 30.46, in all
κ ¼ Thermal conductivity of wall (W/mK) fires exhibits a nonsteady character. Second, the
c ¼ Specific heat of wall (J/kgK) fuel release rate may not be constant. Since in the
If only steady-state temperatures need to be calculational procedure the previous results are
evaluated, then θ3 ¼ 1:0. not stored, it is appropriate to restrict consider-
Wall effects for t just slightly greater than ation to fires where ṁf does not change drasti-
zero are not well modeled with the above cally over the time scale established by θ3. This
relationships for θ2 θ3; however, this condition “natural” time scale can be determined as the
30 Estimating Temperatures in Compartment Fires 1013

time when the response has risen to 63 % of its Method of Law

ultimate value, that is, at θ3 ¼ 0.63, and is
 1:5 The area of structural surface to which heat is lost
t ¼ 2:92  106 ðκρcÞ pffiffiffiffiffiffi ð30:47Þ is expressed by (AT – Ao). For a given fire load,
Ao H o compartments with different values of AT, Ao,
and height Ho will have a different heat balance,
Opening Height Effect, θ4 The normalization and thus the temperatures in the compartments
of burning rate and wall loss quantities with the will differ. This is illustrated in Fig. 30.10, which
ventilation factor Ao H o does not completely shows how temperature varies with
determine the total heat balance. An opening of a ð AT  Ao Þ
given Ao Ho can be tall and narrow or short and Ω¼ pffiffiffiffiffiffi
Ao H o
squat. For the shorter opening, the area will have
to be larger. Radiation losses are proportional For low values of Ω (i.e., high ventilation), the
to the opening area and will, therefore, be higher rate of heat release is at a maximum, but the heat
for the shorter opening. By slight simplification, loss from the window is also large and the resul-
a representation for θ4 can be made as tant temperature is low. For high values of Ω (i.e.,
low-ventilation areas), there is little heat loss to
θ4 ¼ 1:0  0:205H 0:3
o ð30:48Þ the outside, but the rate of heat release is also
small and the resultant temperature is, again, low.
as shown in Fig. 30.8. The curve in Fig. 30.11 has been derived from
many experimental fires conducted internation-
Combustion Efficiency, θ5 The fire compart- ally by CIB [10]. For design purposes, Law has
ment is viewed as a well, but not perfectly, stirred defined it as follows:
reactor. Thus a certain “unmixedness” is present.
A maximum combustion efficiency, bp, can be ð1  e0:1Ω Þ 
T gðmaxÞ ¼ 6, 000 pffiffiffiffi ð CÞ ð30:50Þ
used to characterize this state. Since the model Ω
assumes infinitely fast kinetics, any limitations where
can also be included here. Data have not been
available to characterize bp in real fires, but ð AT  Ao Þ
Ω¼ pffiffiffiffiffiffi
agreement with measured fires can generally be Ao H o
obtained with bp values in the range 0.5–0.9. The and
effect of bp variation can be described by AT ¼ Total area of the compartment enclosing
θ5 ¼ 1:0 þ 0:5 ln b p ð30:49Þ surfaces (m2)
Ao ¼ Area of opening (m2)
as shown in Fig. 30.9. Ho ¼ Height of opening (m)

Fig. 30.8 Effect of 1.0

window height
(1 – θ4)

(1 – θ4) = 0.205Ho−0.3

0.1 1.0 10
Window height, Ho (m)
Fig. 30.9 Effect of bp, the 0.5
maximum combustion

(1 – θ5) = 0.5 lnbp

(1 – θ5)

0.1 1.0
(1 – lnbp )

Fig. 30.10 Average

temperature during fully
developed period measured
in experimental fires in
Temperature (°C)



30 60
At – Ao
A o Ho

Fig. 30.11 Variation of a

rate of burning during fully
(D/W ) (kg·s–1·m–5/2)

developed period measured

in experimental fires in

Ao Ho

0 30 60
A t – Ao
Ao H o
30 Estimating Temperatures in Compartment Fires 1015

This equation represents an upper limit of fire value of ṁf depends on L and the type of fuel.
temperature rise for a given Ω. However, if the For example, domestic furniture has a free-
fire load is low, this value may not be obtained. burning fire duration of about 20 min, giving
The importance of the effect of fire load also τ ¼ 1200 s and m_ f ¼ L=1200.
depends on Ao and AT, and can be expressed as The temperatures discussed above are
  averages measured during the fully developed
T g ¼ T gðmaxÞ 1  e0:05Ψ ð CÞ ð30:51Þ period of the fire. It is assumed that all fires are
ventilation controlled, with the simple relation-
ship for rate of burning given by Equation 30.53,
Tg ¼ Average temperature in the compartment
which is near stoichiometric burning, and it is
( C)
assumed that combustion of 1 kg of wood
releases 18.8 MJ in total.
½Ao ðAT  Ao Þ 0:5 Method of Delichatsios et al.
Delichatsios’ proposed a method assuming
where L is the fire load (wood) in kg. that [23];
The effect of the fire on the structure depends 1. determination of uniform maximum gas tem-
not only on the value of Tg but also on the perature in the compartment for adiabatic
duration of heating. The effective fire duration, conditions
τ, in seconds, is given by 2. determination of an average heat flux to the
compartment boundary during the develop-
τ¼ ð30:52Þ ment of the fire
m_ f 3. a transient thermal model for the response
where ṁf is the rate of burning measured in kg/s. of the compartment boundary to account
Equation 30.7 implies that the smaller the for heat losses to the boundary of the
pffiffiffiffiffiffi compartment.
value of Ao H o the lower the rate of burning
First, gas temperature in the compartment is
and the longer the duration. Assuming a com-
defined from the following equation at quasi-
plete burnout, therefore, the effect on the struc-
steady conditions:
ture tends to be more severe for large values of Ω

given for small Ao H o .

For design purposes the following equation Q_ c ¼ m_ g c p T *g  T 1 þ σAo T *4
g  T1

has been developed to express the correlation of ð30:54Þ

experimental results [11]:
pffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffi  where
m_ f ¼ 0:18Ao Ho ðW=DÞ 1  e0:036Ω ξ < 60
Q_ c ¼ Heat release rate inside the compartment
ð30:53Þ (kW)
ṁg ¼ Flow rate of gases out of the compartment
W ¼ Compartment width (m)
Tg* ¼ Adiabatic temperature leaving through the
D ¼ Compartment depth (m)
opening (K)
 1=2 T1 ¼ Ambient temperature (K)
m_ f D
ξ¼ pffiffiffiffiffiffi Ao ¼ Area of the opening (m2)
Ao H o W
Assuming ventilation controlled fire, the heat
Equation 30.53 is shown in Fig. 30.11 over the release rate inside the enclosure can be calcu-
range where the data lie. Both equations are for lated using following equation.
ventilation-controlled fires. When there is ample pffiffiffiffiffiffi
ventilation, so that the fuel is free burning, the Q_ c ¼ 1, 500Ao Ho ð30:55Þ
1016 W.D. Walton et al.

The mass flow rate of hot gas out of the opening instances, the energy release must be less than
can be given by the equation below. stoichiometric. The method does not take into
pffiffiffiffiffiffi account that the actual mass loss rate may be
m_ g ¼ 0:5Ao Ho ð30:56Þ greater than stoichiometric, with the excess fuel
where burning outside the compartment. A computer
Ho ¼ Height of opening (m) program, SFIRE (versions 1 through 3), is avail-
Substituting Equations 30.55 and 30.56 into able to perform this method. The results from
Equation 30.54, the following energy balance the computer program have been compared with
equation is obtained for the case of ventilation a large number of full-scale fire experiments,
controlled fires. both in the fuel- and ventilation-controlled
pffiffiffiffiffiffi pffiffiffiffiffiffi

regimes, with good agreement between theory
1, 500Ao Ho ¼ 0:5Ao H o C p T *g  T 1 and experiment. It should be added, however,

that most of the experiments involved wood crib
þ σAo T *4
g  T 4
1 fires, which inherently burn slower and
produce less excess fuel load than furnishings
and other combustibles found in practical
Equation 30.57 can be solved by using simple fire loads. In the Swedish method, the fire
numerical inversion to obtain the adiabatic tem- load is expressed in relation to AT as Q_ ¼
perature. As for Equation 30.57, the adiabatic 18:8 L=AT MJ=m2 .
temperature depends only on Ao H o . The design curves approved by the Swedish
From the dimensional analysis, authorities were computed on the basis of
0 1 systemized ventilation-controlled heat-release
Tg  T1 t Q _c
¼ function@pffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffi
A: curves taken from Magnusson and Thelandersson
T *g  T 1 ðkρcÞw AT T *  T 1 [12]. Figure 30.12 shows some typical curves.
The curves are calculated for wall, floor, and
ð30:58Þ ceiling materials with “normal” thermal
where properties from an energy balance which assumes
AT ¼ Total area of the compartment enclosing a uniform temperature in the compartment.
surfaces (m2)
Compared to the experimental data, the model Japanese Method
for gas temperature in the enclosure is proposed
below for the growing period of fire before burn- The McCaffery’s method (Equation 30.12)
out occurs, was originally derived for fuel-controlled fires
0 11=2 [24]. However, the formula was extended to
Tg  T1 t Q_c calculate the temperature of ventilation controlled
¼ 0:5@pffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffi
A fires as well [25]. The fire temperature in the com-
T *g  T 1 ðkρcÞw AT T *  T 1
g partment and fire duration are calculated by
ð30:59Þ !2=3
T f ¼ 1, 280 pffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffi pffiffiffiffiffiffiffi t1=6 þ T 1
AT kρc Ao H o
Swedish Method ð30:60Þ

The Swedish method, developed by Magnusson

and Thelandersson [12], is based on the conven-
tional mass and energy balance equations.
1 FL Ar
The fire itself is not modeled; heat release tD ¼ ð30:61Þ
where 60 Q
rate curves are provided as input and, in all
30 Estimating Temperatures in Compartment Fires 1017

Ao Ho /At = 0.02 m–1/2 Ao Ho /At = 0.04 m–1/2

800 Qt = 500 MJ/m2

Qt = 250 MJ/m2

50 100 150 200 100 200 300 400
400 37.5 75
25 50
200 12.5 25
Tg (°C)

1 2 3 4 5 6 1 2 3 4 5 6
Time (hr)

Ao Ho /At = 0.08 m–1/2 Ao Ho /At = 0.12 m–1/2
Qt = 1000 MJ/m2 Qt = 1500 MJ/m2

200 400 600 800 300 600 900 1200
150 150
200 100
50 75

1 2 3 4 5 6 1 2 3 4 5 6
Time (hr)
Fig. 30.12 Examples of gas temperature-time curves of area, At, and the opening factor Ao H o =At . Fire compart-
postflashover compartment fires for different values of the ment, type A—from authorized Swedish standard
fire load density Q_ t MJ per unit of total internal surface specifications [12]

Q ¼ Heat release rate by combustion (MW) The heat release rate is calculated by the
AT ¼ Internal surface area of compartment burning type index (fraction of ventilation factor
enclosure (m2) to surface area of fuel),
kρc ¼ Thermal inertia of compartment enclo- pffiffiffiffiffiffi
Ao H o
sure (kW.s1/2/m2.K) χ¼ : ð30:62Þ
Ao ¼ Area of window opening (m2)
Ho ¼ Height of window opening (m) The fuel surface area was assumed to follow the
T1 ¼ Initial and ambient temperatures ( C) following formula [26].
FL ¼ Fire load density (MJ/m2) 1=3
Ar ¼ Floor area of the room (m2) Afuel ¼ 0:26FL Aroom ð30:63Þ
tD ¼ Fire duration (min.) Using burning type index, the heat release rate is
calculated by

> 1:6χ ðχ  0:081Þ
Q ¼ Afuel  0:13 ð0:081 < χ  0:1Þ ð30:64Þ
2:5χexpð11χ Þ þ 0:048 ð0:1 < χ Þ
1018 W.D. Walton et al.

Example of Japanese Method Calculate the The compartment enclosure is made of

maximum temperature of a room; 3 m width  concrete with kρc ¼ 1:75 kW s1=2 =m2 K. Per-
3 m in floor depth  2.4 m high with a door form calculation until burnout.
opening installed at 1.8 m high  0.6 m wide. The fuel surface area and ventilation
The internal surface area is 31.32 m2. The fire factors are
load density is 720 MJ/m2.

Afuel ¼ 0:26 FL Aroom ¼ 0:26  7201=3  ð3  3Þ ¼ 21:0 m2
pffiffiffiffiffiffi pffiffiffiffiffiffiffi
Ao Ho ¼ 0:6  1:8  1:8 ¼ 1:45 m5=2

The burning type index is For example, the fire temperature at fire
pffiffiffiffiffiffi duration is
Ao H o 1:45
χ¼ ¼ ¼ 0:069
Afuel 21:0 T f ¼ 522  46:61=6 þ 20 ¼ 1, 009 C
As χ < 0.081, fire is ventilation-controlled. The
heat release rate and fire duration are
Predicting Flashover
Q ¼ Afuel  1:6χ ¼ 21:0  1:6  0:069 ¼ 2:32MW
1 FL Ar 1 720  3  3 One use of predicted compartment fire
tD ¼ ¼ ¼ 46:6 min:
60 Q 60 2:32 temperatures is estimating the likelihood of
flashover. The methods used are similar to those
Combining the results, the fire temperature in the
used in the prediction of temperature. In one case,
compartment can be calculated by the following
that of McCaffrey et al., the method is simply an
equation as shown in Fig. 30.13.
extension of the temperature calculation.
T f ¼ 1, 280 pffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffi pffiffiffiffiffiffiffi t1=6 þ T 0
AT kρc Ao H o Method of Babrauskas
¼ 1, 280 pffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffipffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffi t1=6 þ 20 Babrauskas uses the energy balance for the upper
31:32  1:75 1:45
layer given in Equation 30.8, where the gas flow
¼ 522t1=6 þ 20 rate out of the opening is approximated by [27]

Fig. 30.13 Example of 1200

temperature-time curve
calculated by Japanese 1000
Temperature (°C)





0 10 20 30 40 50
30 Estimating Temperatures in Compartment Fires 1019

m_ g  0:5Ao Ho ð30:65Þ Q_ ¼ 0:5 Q_ stoich

The primary energy loss is assumed to be which, substituting into Equation 30.68 yields
radiation to 40 % of the wall area, which is at pffiffiffiffiffiffi
Q_ ¼ 750Ao Ho ð30:69Þ
approximately ambient temperature:

The 33 test fires used had energy release rates
qloss ¼ εσ T 4g  T 41 ð0:40AT Þ ð30:66Þ from 11 to 3840 kW, with fuels primarily of wood
and polyurethane. Ventilation factors Ao H o
where ranged from 0.03 to 7.51 m5/2, and surface area
ε ¼ Emissivity of the hot gas to ventilation factor ratios
σ ¼ Stefan-Boltzmann constant 5.67  1011
kW/m2K4 AT
Combining Equations 30.8, 30.65 and 30.66, Ao H o
using a gas temperature for flashover of 873 K, a ranged from 9 to 65 m1/2.
specific heat of air of 1.0 kJ/kgK, an emissivity
of 0.5, and assuming the correlation between Example of Babrauskas’s Method Calculate
compartment wall and opening area of the heat release rate necessary to cause flashover,
AT using the method of Babrauskas. Assume the
pffiffiffiffiffiffi  50 same room as in the McCaffrey et al. method
Ao H o
example for predicting compartment fire
yields a minimum Q_ required for flashover, temperatures. From Equation 30.69
pffiffiffiffiffiffi Q_ ¼ 750Ao Ho
Q_ ¼ 600Ao Ho ð30:67Þ
The airflow into the compartment has been Ao ¼ 1.08 m2
approximated as Ho ¼ 1.8 m
pffiffiffiffiffiffi Q_ ¼ (750)(1.08)(1.8)1/2 ¼ 1087 kW
0:5Ao Ho

The maximum amount of fuel that can be burned

Method of McCaffrey, Quintiere,
completely with this air is known as the stoichio-
and Harkleroad
metric amount. For most fuels, the heat released
per mass of air consumed is a constant approxi-
The method of McCaffrey, Quintiere, and
mately equal to 3000 kJ/kg. Therefore, the
Harkleroad for predicting compartment fire
stoichiometric heat release rate can be Q_ stoich temperatures may be extended to predict the
calculated: energy release rate of the fire required to result
 pffiffiffiffiffiffi in flashover in the compartment.
Q_ stoich ¼ 3, 000 m_ g ¼ 3, 000 0:5Ao H o
Equation 30.12 can be rewritten as
¼ 1, 500Ao H o "   #1=2
ð30:68Þ pffiffiffi ΔT g 3 pffiffiffiffiffiffi

Q¼ g c p ρ1 T 1
h k AT Ao H o
From this derivation, it is shown that the min-
imum Q_ required for flashover equals 0:4 Q_ stoich .
Comparing these results with fire tests, Selecting an upper gas temperature of 522  C
Babrauskas found that the data fall within a and ambient temperature of 295 K or ΔTg ¼
range of Q_ ¼ 0:3 Q_ stoich to Q_ ¼ 0:7 Q_ stoich . 500  C for flashover, and substituting values for
A best fit of the data suggests the gravitational constant (g ¼ 9.8 m/s2), the
1020 W.D. Walton et al.

specific heat of air (cp ¼ 1.0 kJ/kgK), and the Method of Thomas
density of air (ρ1 ¼ 1.18 kg/m3), and rounding
607.8–610 yields Thomas uses the energy balance for the upper
1=2 layer shown in Equation 30.8, where the gas flow
Q_ ¼ 610 hk AT Ao H o ð30:71Þ rate out of the opening is approximated by [2]
where m_ g  0:5Ao Ho ð30:73Þ
hk ¼ Effective heat transfer coefficient
Thomas develops an expression for q_ loss which
assumes the area for the source of radiation for
AT ¼ Total area of the compartment surfaces (m2)
roughly cubical compartments is AT/6:
Ao ¼ Area of opening (m2)
Ho ¼ Height of opening (m)   AT
Using Equation 30.13 yields a slightly differ- q_ loss  hc T g  T w þ εσ 2T 4g  T 4floor
2 6
ent value, 623.6 rounded to 620, of the leading ð30:74Þ
coefficient because of the difference in the value
used for the specific heat of air: where
1=2 AT ¼ Total area of the compartment-enclosing
Q_ ¼ 620 hk AT Ao H o ð30:72Þ surfaces (m2)
hc ¼ Convective heat transfer coefficient
The use of either 610 or 620 is acceptable (kW/m2K)
within the accuracy of the expression. Tw ¼ Temperature of the upper walls (K)
Tfloor ¼ Temperature of the floor (K)
Example of McCaffrey et al.’s Method Estimate From experimental data, Thomas developed
the energy release rate required for flashover of a an average for q_ loss of 7.8 AT. Using an upper
compartment. Assume the same room as in the layer temperature of 577  C or a ΔTg of 600  C
McCaffrey et al. method example for predicting for flashover criterion and cp ¼ 1.26 kJ/kgK
compartment fire temperatures. Assuming yields an expression for the minimum rate of
ΔTg ¼ 500  C as a condition for flashover, and energy release for flashover:
air properties at 295 K, use Equation 30.71 and pffiffiffiffiffiffi
assume the compartment has heated for a period Q_ ¼ 7:8AT þ 378Ao Ho ð30:75Þ
of time that exceeds the thermal penetration time.
Q_ ¼ 610 hk AT Ao Ho Comparison of Methods for Predicting
Babrauskas has compared the effect of room wall
k 0:48  103 area on the energy release required for flashover,
hk ¼ ¼ ¼ 0:03 kW=m2 K
δ 0:016 using the above methods [28]. The results of his
comparisons, along with some experimental data
for rooms with gypsum board walls, are shown in
AT ¼ 45.72 m2
Fig. 30.14. The graph shows the energy required
Ao ¼ 1.08 m2
for flashover as a function of compartment wall
Ho ¼ 1.8 m
area, both normalized by the ventilation factor
Therefore, pffiffiffiffiffiffi
Ao Ho . The method of Babrauskas used in this
pffiffiffiffiffiffiffi1=2 graph is based on Equation 30.32 with T1 ¼ 25
Q_ ¼ 610 ð0:03Þ ð45:72Þ ð1:08Þ 1:8 
C and Tg ¼ 600  C. Babrauskas observes that
¼ 860 kW over the range of compartment sizes of most
30 Estimating Temperatures in Compartment Fires 1021

Fig. 30.14 The effect of Data McCaffrey et al.

room wall area (gypsum 50% of stoichiometric line Thomas
walls) on the heat required Babrauskas
for flashover

Fraction of stoichiometric fuel


Q /Ao Ho (kW·m–5/2)
1200 0.8
600 0.4
0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70
Ao H o

interest, all of the methods produce similar k thermal conductivity of the wall
results. The method of McCaffrey et al. diverts (kW/mK)
from the others for small room sizes. Babrauskas L fire load, wood (kg)
notes that all of the methods are a conservative m mass of the gas in the compartment
representation of the data. (kg/s)
ṁa mass flow rate of air into an opening
Nomenclature ṁg gas flow rate out the opening (kg/s)
ṁf mass burning rate of fuel (kg/s)
Aceiling area of compartment ceiling (m2) ṁf,st stoichiometric mass burning rate of
Af pool fire area (m2) fuel (kg/s)
Afloor area of compartment floor (m2) m_ 00w mass per unit area of the wall (kg/m2)
Ao area of openings (m2) q_ loss net radiative and convective
AT total area of the compartment heat transfer from the upper gas layer
enclosing surfaces (m2) (kW)
Awalls area of compartment walls (m2) _
Q energy (heat) release rate of the fire
bp maximum combustion efficiency (kW)
c specific heat of the wall (kJ/kgK) _
Q stoich
stoichiometric heat release rate (kW)
Cd orifice constriction coefficient
t time (s)
cp specific heat of gas (kJ/kgK)
tp thermal penetration time (s)
D compartment depth (m)
Tb liquid boiling point (K)
g acceleration due to gravity, 9.8 m/s2
Tfloor temperature of the floor (K)
hc convective heat transfer coefficient
Tg temperature of the upper gas layer
Δhc effective heat of combustion of the
fuel (kJ/kg)
Tp thermal penetration time (s)
hg heat transfer coefficient on the hot side
Tw wall temperature (K)
of the wall (kW/m2K)
T1 ambient temperature (K)
hk effective heat transfer coefficient
W compartment width (m)
Wo width of opening (m)
h1 heat transfer coefficient on the ambient
Xd height of the interface (m)
side of the wall (kW/m2K)
XN height of neutral plane (m)
Ho height of opening (m)
1022 W.D. Walton et al.

7. J.A. Rockett, “Fire Induced Gas Flow in an Enclo-

Greek Letters sure,” Combustion Science and Technology, 12, pp.
165–175 (1976).
8. P.H. Thomas and A.J.M. Heselden, “Fully Developed
δ thickness of the wall (m) Fires in Single Compartments,” Fire Research Note
ε emissivity of the hot gas No. 923, Fire Research Station, Borehamwood, UK
ρ density of the wall (kg/m3) (1972).
9. K. Kawagoe, “Fire Behaviour in Rooms,” Report of the
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σ Stefan-Boltzmann constant, 5.67  1011 Institute, Ministry of Contruction, Japan (1958).
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a air 11. M. Law, Structural Engineering, 61A, 1, p. 25 (1983).
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Temperature in a Room Fire,” NBSIR 83-2712,
1 ambient National Bureau of Standards, Washington, DC
(June 1983).
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