Correlations Between Different Scales of Metro Carriage Fire Tests

Report Date: January 2013

Full-scale tests are the best method for realistic fire behavior testing. Full scale tests are also the most expensive and time consuming, and are therefore not always the best choice for live fire testing. For these reasons, reduced scale tests are frequently used. However, reduced scale tests do not provide identical fire behavior to full-scale tests; their results must be scaled appropriately.

This project from SP Fire Research was part of a multi-year effort on fire safety in mass transit systems and evaluates the effects of model scaling while exploring the fire dynamics of train carriage fires. The testing included a 1/10 scale model, a 1/3 scale model, and two full-scale models: one full train carriage and one a 1/3 section of the train car. The testing also looked into the effects of ventilation on fire growth. In all tests, the initial fire grew until flashover, and then propagated through the carriage. The paper provides discussion on the scaling of key fire behavior variables and the correlation with the full-scale tests. It also provides a scientific explanation of flashover in a compartment fire, and the effects of ventilation on time to flashover. While this testing is aimed at train carriage fires, the results and discussions can be used to better understand fire behavior in any compartment fire.


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Li, Ying Zhen, Haukur Ingason, and Anders Lönnermark. Correlations Between Different Scales of Metro Carriage Fire Tests. SP Report 2013:13. 2013.

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