Fire Engineering - Research Areas - Civil Engineering - Universityof Canterbury

Recent areas of research

Active fire protection systems

sprinkler test imageSprinkler and detector activation

Recent work has been targeted towards characterising sprinklers in the heated wind tunnel and assessing their performance when exposed to experimental fires. The wind tunnel has been used to determine appropriate distributions of the Response Time Index (RTI) and measurement of the sprinkler conduction (C) factor for a range of commercially available sprinklers. Television fire experiments were also used to compare the detection performance of a range of heat, smoke and CO fire detectors.

Key publications

  • Frank K., Spearpoint, M., Fleischmann, C.M. and Wade, C. (2011) A comparison of sources of uncertainty for calculating sprinkler activation. Fire Safety Science, (10):1101-1114, [weblink] 2011.
  • Tsui A, Spearpoint M J. Statistical analysis of sprinkler response time index and determination of conduction factor using the plunge test. Building Services Engineering Research and Technology, 31(2), 163-176, [weblink] 2010.
  • Shelley, J. and Spearpoint, M. (2007) Tenability comparison of detectors and sprinklers in television fire tests. University of London, London, UK: 11th International Interflam Conference (Interflam 2007), 3-5 Sep 2007, pp. 347-358.

Spill plume testingSmoke ventilation systems

The design of smoke ventilation systems requires knowledge of the amount of smoke entrained into the smoke plume. Experimental and numerical research is being conducted on balcony spill plumes and simplified equations for entrainment are being developed.

Key Publications

  • Harrison R, Spearpoint M J. The horizontal flow of gases below the spill edge of a balcony and an adhered thermal spill plume. International Journal of Heat and Mass Transfer, 53(25-26: 5792-5805, [weblink] 2010.
  • Harrison R, Spearpoint M J. The transition from a balcony spill plume to an axisymmetric plume. Journal of Fire Protection Engineering, 20(4), 273-289, [weblink] 2010.
  • Harrison R, Spearpoint M J. Physical scale modelling of adhered spill plume entrainment. Fire Safety Journal, 45(3) 149-158, [weblink] 2010.
  • Harrison R, Spearpoint M J. A comparison between channelled and unchannelled balcony spill plumes. Building Services Engineering Research and Technology, 31(3) 265-277, [weblink] 2010.
  • Tan F, Harrison R, Spearpoint M J. Physical scale modeling of smoke contamination in upper balconies by a channeled balcony spill plume in an atrium. Journal of Fire Sciences, 28(4) 313-336, [weblink] 2010.

Sprinkler and smoke layer interaction

This work has been to investigate how a sprinkler spray influences the conditions in a smoke layer. In particular to work has considered how much cooling occurs and whether the layer be sufficiently disrupted to cause ‘downdrag’.

  • Li K Y, Spearpoint M J. Simplified calculation method for determining smoke downdrag due to a sprinkler spray. Fire Technology, 47(3) 5781-800, [weblink] 2011.
  • Li K Y, Spearpoint M J, Ji J, Huo R, Li Y Z, Hu L H. A mathematical model on drag effect of sprinkler spray to adjacent horizontal smoke venting. Journal of Fire Protection Engineering, 20(1) 27-54, [weblink] 2010.
  • Li K Y, Spearpoint M J. A review of instability criteria of smoke layers under sprinkler spray. Proc. International Symposium on Fire Science and Fire Protection Engineering, Hefei, China, 17 Oct 2009, p.70-77, 2009.

Water mist systems

Experiments involving a water mist system in conjunction with a displacement ventilation system were undertaken. The effects of the water mist system on the compartment conditions were measured for a range of fire tests.

Key publications