21 Jan The FFR Risk Assessment: First give it a name
FRETWORK has given a lot of time to trying to sort out the facts about the FFR.
The FFR was started 40 years ago with the introduction of the cigarette test.
The following years leading to the introduction of the Regulations we know today (- still awaiting a COMPLETED Review!) involved a lot of debate, research and argument. It was up to people like Bob Graham, then of the Manchester Fire Service, to lead the debate but FRETWORK has looked very hard and little evidence of that debate remains today.
FRETWORK has recently republished the BRMA booklet as shown on our Homepage and clear evidence of the bones of the argument are to be found in that 40 year old document. We have highlighted certain parts in our version. (see BRMA booklet FRETWORK)
We have also, and still are trying, written a simple and concise definition to inform not only our work but to guide our assessment of new proposals – when they arrive.
So far we have this:
The RISK of IGNITION occurring in large articles with PolyUrethane foam filling and an outer textile cover. This generally meant upholstered furniture. Ignition is characterised by slow development resulting a fire discovery up to 6 hours later and including emission of copious smoke and toxic fumes.
Clearly this focusses on a particular ignition risk but Smoke and Toxic Fumes (STF) were responsible for most Deaths and Injuries and actually that has not changed in 40 years!
A great step forward arrived recently when we discovered the following quote. This is taken from an excerpt from a book and we reproduce it here with full acknowledgement of its importance. It originates from a Chemist/Geologist (we hope that is an acceptable description) and we hope that it will become much more widely read and, more importantly, understood. You may note that it also describes a lack of research into this particular aspect bearing in mind that it is not an easy subject to research (?).
“2.2 Slow combustion
Slow combustion (smouldering) is the slow, low-temperature, flameless form of combustion, sustained by the heat evolved when oxygen directly attacks the surface
of a condensed-phase hydrocarbon. It is a slow, low-temperature, flameless form of combustion of a condensed fuel that poses safety and environmental hazards and allows novel technological application but the fundamentals remain mostly unknown. The terms filtering combustion, smoking problem, deep seated fires, hidden fires, peat or peatland fires, lagging fires, low oxygen combustion, in-situ combustion, fireflood, and underground gasification all refer to smouldering combustion phenomena. Also, smouldering combustion is a typically incomplete combustion reaction (Rein, 2009). Solid materials that can sustain a smouldering reaction include coal, cellulose, wood, cotton, tobacco, peat, coal duff (coal fines), humus, synthetic foams, charring polymers including polyurethane. Common examples of smouldering phenomena are the initiation of residential fires on upholstered furniture by weak heat sources (e.g., a cigarette, a short-circuited wire), and the persistent combustion of biomass behind the flaming front of wildfires.”
James G. Speight PhD, DSc, PhD, in Handbook of Industrial Hydrocarbon Processes (Second Edition), 2020
It has hints of the Sir Micheal Caine in “…not many people know that”. ….AND IT ONLY TOOK 40 YEARS?
We believe this at the very least allows for our thinking about the FFR to be informed by having a name for something when before we had none!
It is probably possible to say “you heard it here first”?