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Property owners and insurance companies have a need for being able to predict how far an accidental fire will spread in an industrial complex under the most probable adverse conditions and under the worst foreseeable conditions. The information is necessary for establishing the values at risk and for planning fire safety improvements. Estimating the extent of future fire events is now largely dependent on experienced judgment; a sound mathematical model can provide better, more reliable answers. The desirability of such a model is also shown by ASTM Committee E-5's fire risk analysis development efforts. A probabilistic model using a critical path approach was suggested ten years ago and is now being developed into a unified fire behavior prediction model, called UNIFIRE, having as its principal purpose the prediction of the paths and extent of fire spread through buildings. Unlike prior analytical systems that grade the fire risk by deficiency points for generalized features, UNIFIRE is site specific. The model consists of numerous subroutines, each capable of analyzing the probable contribution of site-specific factors in a fire event, and of a main program that organizes all of the fire prediction data and develops a unified evaluation of the fire threat at that facility.
fire risk, fire safety, risk analysis, mathematical modeling, evaluation
President, Gage-Babcock and Associates, Inc., El mhurst, Illinois