In the fire disaster in Liverpool on December 31, 2017, 1400 vehicles and an open car park were completely burned down. Regardless of type, parking lots involve a risk of fire with serious destruction. Automobiles produced with today’s technology in particular contain more petroleum-derived materials than the models produced recently. Beyond the risk of fire, this increases the heat load and smoke intensity during the fire.
In parking fires, the fire affects not only the vehicles and the indoor environment, but all the materials around it. It also revealed the negative effects of heat emitted during the Liverpool fire on building statics. Due to the high temperature, the microscopic structure deteriorated and the steel and concrete lost their strength and collapses occurred in some places. In this respect, the ability to control the fire during a fire is a requirement for the safety of the entire building. A fire in the lower floors can cause the entire building to collapse, even if it does not spread to the upper floors.
Contrary to popular belief, it is more difficult to provide fire safety in open car parks than in closed car parks. The results of a configuration with exhaust, fresh air supplies and jet fans in enclosed car parks can be much more predictable, while open car parks cannot be considered independent of atmospheric conditions. The direction and intensity of the prevailing wind at the time of the fire will change the progress of the fire. For this reason, the analysis can be made by detailing the architectural structure under the prevailing winds while it is still in the design stage in the open car parks. In addition, the principle of safe evacuation of toxic gas, which is the first and most important criterion of fire safety, will be much more difficult in open parking lots. In closed parking lots, toxic gas and smoke can be discharged in a controlled manner through the exhaust shaft, while in open parking lots it can endanger the lives of people around it due to the prevailing wind.
Considering all these situations, the architectural and mechanical designs of the open car parks, the relevant simulation, testing or application of the standard carefully will prevent the loss of life and property as much as possible.
Technical inadequacies also contributed to the formation of the present disaster. Thus, fire zoning must be performed in an open car park and a sprinkler fire extinguishing system must be used. Building statics should be modular. Partial debris on one floor should not affect the overall building statics. The outdoor car park exterior should be designed in a way to prevent the spread of fire on one floor from the building facade to other floors. It should be noted that in open car park fires, the fire can also spread to the lower floors due to the prevailing wind and regional air turbulence over the building facade.
The competence of design and the effects of possible fires around the parking lot can be easily tested by performing fire simulations with the prevailing winds of a multi-storey open car park that is well designed in terms of architecture and engineering. In case of incomplete, you can watch the results of a possible open fire in the video below.