April 27, 2022

048 - Car parks, design fires and the broad world of fire science with Mike Spearpoint

048 - Car parks, design fires and the broad world of fire science with Mike Spearpoint

Did you know first car parks were built for electric vehicles? Or what clever techniques can be used to model the spread of fire between vehicles? Or what challenges scientists meet burning vehicles, and why pneumatic suspension makes stuff more interesting... These (and much much more) are the things you learn by inviting Mike Spearpoint of the OFR for a lovely chat about design fires in car parks, and car parking infrastructure in general. 

But wait for it, there is much more. The hidden underlying message about the broadness of fire science, and the holistic view on how certain compartments are used today (and how it differs from their past use). Delightfully refreshing point of view! Hope you will enjoy it as much as I did.


[00:00:00] Wojciech Wegrzynski: Hello, and welcome to a Fire Science Show session 48. To the half a great guest for you. It's actually, it was my idol. , I invited Mike Spearpoint from the AFR. And Mike is one of the engineers and fire scientists. I probably admired the most actually once told him that. If I grew up, I want to be just like him. And he told me that's a horrible lifestyle.

[00:00:22] Wojciech Wegrzynski: So. I've got to reconsider the advice. However, after this episode, I may, be leaning a little more to the original plan. Mike is known for his research in almost every end of fire science. And it seems that whatever you ask him about it, He has a health written manuscript about that, which makes discussing with him. A huge, huge fun rarely someone so knowledgeable about so many wide aspects, of the field and that's actually what we have discussed before the show.

[00:00:53] Wojciech Wegrzynski: Uh, that's not on the tape and that's, , it's sometimes, Necessarily to go very broad within knowledge, [00:01:00] and, In this view, you're able to connect dots. Between different methods between different approaches between different experiments. That eventually leads you to discoveries and, Connections that you have not ever make. So that's one thing that definitely stands out in, in this episode.

[00:01:16] Wojciech Wegrzynski: And so far, I probably get your attention, but I didn't tell you what. It's about so long story short it's about car parks and vehicle fires and design fires. But. It touches so, so much more. Uh, that's just, what is the design fire? How does one choose one? Why do we need one?

[00:01:34] Wojciech Wegrzynski: It touches as the history, a brief history of car parks. It touches the challenges with, modern issues, automation and electric vehicles. And also why. This challenges are not that very, more than, than unique after all. And that that's, that's a funny finding. And we will venture even into using risk-based methods like J volu into determining, fire safety. We [00:02:00] go into modeling spread between vehicles. It's a really broad discussion, but I hope it's a very enjoyable one. For me, it was a source of great inspiration and I'm very thankful to Mike that he took the invite then and went into this journey with me.

[00:02:14] Wojciech Wegrzynski: So, uh, let's not prolong this anymore. Let's spin the intro and. Jump into the episode.

[00:02:19] Wojciech Wegrzynski: Hello, Mike. Great to have you on the show.

[00:02:43] Mike Spearpoint: Great to be invited. Thanks very much.

[00:02:46] Wojciech Wegrzynski: Thank you very much for taking the invite. That's one of the pieces I was looking the most for. so, there's like 1 billion topics that we can discuss, together, but I thought that we could talk about car parks [00:03:00] because I found it very interesting to myself. And your name is on awfully lots of papers come through.

[00:03:08] Wojciech Wegrzynski: So I figured out maybe, you know, some think about that, how long you've been involved in any, any types of like car park, fires, car park activities, or vehicle fires

[00:03:18] Mike Spearpoint: yeah, I suppose that my first foray in. Car fires was, would have been back when I was working many, many years ago back at, Fire Research Station, uh, Bre and I happened to be working with, a guy there called Martin Ship who's sort of retired now. And, he got involved in all sorts of interesting projects.

[00:03:39] Mike Spearpoint: and one of the projects that was going on at the time was to look at the, um, when they're building the channel tunnel and. some debate at the time about the fact that they were going to have, these, railway cars that people could put their car on. And obviously there was an issue.

[00:03:56] Mike Spearpoint: Well, what happens if that car catches fire, and how we might design, what [00:04:00] sort of design should we do for the channel tunnel in terms of whether there's a car fire or not within one of these channel tunnel, shuttle wagons. And so my understanding was there was a bit of discussion about, what sort of design fire should we use for a car?

[00:04:14] Mike Spearpoint: there was already an awareness of some work that had been done, probably about 10 years before this was a paper by Keski-Rahkonen where he had an, a colleague Mangs and Keski-Rahkonen them they'd burnt some cars kind of about the 1970s era. And they'd got something like three megawatts as a sort of peak heat release rate.

[00:04:32] Mike Spearpoint: And at that point there was a bit of discussion going on. Was it. Do we think that's still the sort of size of a fire that we should be designing for this channel tunnel shuttle, work. But anyway, it was, it seemed to be decided that it would be a good idea to, um, burn a couple of more, at the time more modern cars.

[00:04:50] Mike Spearpoint: and so somehow I got involved in this project, uh, because it needed quite a few people because we had to build this sort of ad hoc. Calorimeter at the [00:05:00] big airship hangar that BRE used to have at Cardington and. Martin had gone off and bought a couple of cars. So they were completely drivable cars. and they were put into this mock-up channel tunnel shuttle wagon, and basically set fire to them and measure the heat release.

[00:05:18] Mike Spearpoint: And that probably is my sort of first foray into it. And there was a lot, I mean, there's a paper you can go and read. And it was quite interesting. We only burned two cars because, you know, there's like a lot of these things is time and budget and that, but, the first car we burned, was ignited.

[00:05:34] Mike Spearpoint: It was called an Austin Maestro and the, fire was ignited in the passenger compartment. And so to sort of see how that fire would develop, I remember the issue there was at some point during the fire, the, part of the. system must have broken and there was two thirds full of petrol or something, and that became a pool fire under the vehicle.

[00:05:55] Mike Spearpoint: So you ended up with a vehicle fire, but the associated pool fire. And that, [00:06:00] that if you go and look at the paper, you see this, rapid heat release, and, uh, it's actually a dotted line because it, essentially overwhelmed the calorimeters. and that becomes that, that mixture of car fire and pool fire.

[00:06:11] Mike Spearpoint: And then, then the second vehicle we burned was a one of these, um, Citroen cars. And, and they have a pressurized suspension system. So in that one, the fire was started in the engine compartment. Um, but one of the issues was for the fire brigade was, was, we couldn't be too near to this vehicles. We had to sit in the control room because the pressurized suspension, and you could hear. Well, you could hear some banging sounds. So these suspension and potentially is these big metal rods that come out. So, so that's really where the car fire stuff done. It's, you know, kind of credit to getting, Martin, Shipp got me involved with that. And I suppose I was fortunate for what happened then was, for some reason, I mean, obviously his interest in, in heat releasing car fires, and for some reason there was a conference [00:07:00] it NIST, on, I think it's just a calorimetry conference and, Martin couldn't go.

[00:07:05] Mike Spearpoint: So in the end, I was fortunate to be the one who was going to go and do this presentation. So I went over to NIST to give, gave a presentation. I think it was a very good presentation at the time. I wasn't very happy with it but I'm kind of a bit of a life story here that was a sort of start of me having the opportunity to then, So that was about 1997.

[00:07:26] Mike Spearpoint: 96 or thereabouts and it, and, for one reason or another, I ended up, that's where I ended up going to the university of Maryland to do my master's program, where I really fortunate to work with, professor Quintiere and Fred Mowrer and that's where I first met Jose Terrero and kind of a few other people.

[00:07:44] Mike Spearpoint: So, so it's interesting. And I'm sure everyone's got their sort of life story that says, well, because that happened, then this happened and who would have thought it, but then I ended up doing this, that and the other. So, so that's kind of the start, was it was a random [00:08:00] opportunity to get involved with a particular project and that led to other things just because of circumstances.

[00:08:07] Wojciech Wegrzynski: that is so cool. and, uh, you've said that you've pursued this project, in the hope to find a design fire heat release rate for the channel tunnel project, but essentially designed fire for, uh, for a vehicle. And, now fast forward, like 30 years forward, almost. If you asked me what's the design, uh, fire for passenger vehicle I don't know. that's a difficult question. Do we have one there's one exist? and in the, end uh, there is such a push from the industry. If we can call it like that, everyone needs one. Like people need, a design fire to do their job as fire safety engineers. So we don't want to fire engineers to, wonder what's the heat release rate of a vehicle.

[00:08:51] Wojciech Wegrzynski: They should have the number and know it. And over the years where I, deal with, vehicle fires with carpark fires, the [00:09:00] design fire curve, the heat release rate curve was always the number one subject. We talk about, like, that's the number one thing people want to know? What's the design fire, because that is the starting point that

[00:09:12] Mike Spearpoint: yeah, yeah, that's right. I mean, you're right. I mean, I mean, there's the, uh, I'll say the paper that somewhat of a classic paper by, Vito Babrauskas and, uh, come a house from this, which has got the title heat released the most important parameters from far engineering or, or words that effect.

[00:09:28] Mike Spearpoint: Cause because you're right. Having, having the heat release then drives all sorts of other, things that we need to know in terms of the plume dynamics, the potentially the yield, cause in the end it becomes a, function of the yields. We might, if we're looking at toxicity and radiation that we might get from that fire.

[00:09:45] Mike Spearpoint: So yeah, whether it's a car fire or anything, having that heat release, that energy release is a key input to. Design procedure, calculation, hand, calculation, whatever. Um, so in terms [00:10:00] of, but in terms of car fires, there's a few that have been proposed and refuse around. I mean, there's the curve that, , I think some people are familiar with by Schleich.

[00:10:09] Mike Spearpoint: Like if I haven't, if I've pronounced it correctly. So there is a, which isn't a T squared. It, as I remember it sort of grows and then it plateaus and there's a second growth

[00:10:19] Mike Spearpoint: point to

[00:10:19] Mike Spearpoint: that curve.

[00:10:20] Wojciech Wegrzynski: it's a Jean Baptiste-Schleich that's the one that's I think in TNO based from the TNO research that that happened in 1999. And they've did, , fire tests in like a real car park so they've mocked up a colorimetry within the car park, the they've burned some vehicles that were relevant for the time of sedan vehicles.

[00:10:40] Wojciech Wegrzynski: And

[00:10:41] Mike Spearpoint: Yeah,

[00:10:41] Wojciech Wegrzynski: there's also the, the curve that we have been using in our, , engineering guidelines in our, proposals, as the starting point. and they like a lot about that curve. And I think we're going to talk about it later in the episode, but there are more, there is Jouyex curve

[00:10:56] Mike Spearpoint: yes. You

[00:10:57] Wojciech Wegrzynski: from the, yeah. [00:11:00] Maybe, you know, more than I do.

[00:11:01] Mike Spearpoint: Yeah, but there's the work that Daniel has done in the past and Jouyex done. And of course we could use a classic, T squared, , which, you know, some design codes and that will have, I think it's still in the New Zealand verification method. It will have a, a T squared. I think it still might be a medium.

[00:11:20] Mike Spearpoint: I'd have to say it's a little while since I've looked at a medium growth T squared. so you, you either might adopt some sort of, generic for a bit term, curve. So the T squared, or you could have a TQ or whatever, or you'd have something that's specific for a car like the Schleich curve, which is, you know, which is you would take unique for that particular fuel package.

[00:11:40] Mike Spearpoint: We wouldn't use that for a chair, whatever it is considered to be reasonable, a representation of your car fire.

[00:11:47] Wojciech Wegrzynski: or you can go just a good old school, steady state. Four megawatts one, regulated megawatts, two vehicles. And I have no clue where the values came from. And my hunch tells me it was some CEN [00:12:00] meeting or BS meeting where a Howard Morgan said that is the volume. And then it just remained like that till now.

[00:12:06] Wojciech Wegrzynski: I don't know if that's true, but something tells me that might have been the, the story of the, of this design fires. And, I love, how you positioned design fire as the most fundamental thing. And I agree with Vyto that it is the most important thing in the fire engineering. And if you think about. what would be the error in your engineering judgment? If you mistake the heat release rate, let's say you take two megawatts where you should have taken eight, w what's the impact of that on the outcome compared to like a choice of turbulence methods or choice of the mesh size in your CFD.

[00:12:46] Wojciech Wegrzynski: And yet people spend so much time justifying this minuscule choices and they just go and the fire was like seven megawatts because we felt, because it was Wednesday.

[00:12:56] Mike Spearpoint: Yes, we could end up on a, different soap box [00:13:00] about the, um, I mean, I mean, again, this is not something that I invented. It's a term that I've adopted. I got it from professor, from Andy Buchannan, but I think he got it from, uh, one of his colleagues, David Elms, this idea of consistent level of crudeness.

[00:13:14] Mike Spearpoint: so if there's no point going into a lot of detail in one parameter or one element, if another element is going, you're going to have to make a sort of broad judgment. it doesn't make sense. so yes, you, you want to get that consistent level of crudeness in any calculation, otherwise, yeah, something will have a very little difference, but you might spend a long time worrying about it.

[00:13:35] Mike Spearpoint: Uh, whereas something else you've just picked. from thin air, but that might have a really big impact on the outcome. And so these are sorts of questions that know myself and many others sort of wonder about now and again, try and do some simulations or calculations or try and demonstrate it.

[00:13:55] Mike Spearpoint: but there's lots of other people who have got a lot more insight into these sorts of things and [00:14:00] the myself,

[00:14:01] Wojciech Wegrzynski: Yeah, I think that this is very fundamental to the engine, the fire engineering of the whole, it's not only relevant to the car parks or carpark fires. Now, if we venture more into the carpark design fires, because that's something that it's also interesting to me, I always found this approximations on that some people pursue with, uh, with the car park fire, uh, design scenarios, like averaging the, the results of experiments or trying to do this.

[00:14:31] Wojciech Wegrzynski: As you mentioned, alpha squared, approaches to define the fire growth. I always felt that, and even the way he confirmed in the introduction that the fires in vehicles, the fires in car parks, when you consider just a single vehicle, they feel very. event based things that car is essentially multiple compartments.

[00:14:55] Wojciech Wegrzynski: There's the engine compartment, the passenger compartments, the fuel compartment. [00:15:00] Subdivided into paths like that. And when you have the, fire in the engine compartment, when it's, when it's the engine and the plastics around burning, it's only a certain size of the fire to widget can grow. And it eventually reaches that level and plateaus.

[00:15:16] Wojciech Wegrzynski: And if the fire spreads to. Passenger compartment a lot. Depends if the windows are open or not, if they're open and there's ventilation sure. You will have a huge growth of fire because suddenly consume the upholstered furniture inside the same to the fuel tank. If you rupture it, you will suddenly transition into, into a pool fire.

[00:15:36] Mike Spearpoint: With

[00:15:36] Wojciech Wegrzynski: I feel that this is something that happens as an event in the chain of events. And because of that, I find it really hard to position it on the timeline. Even, if you think about the ignition, the fire can go for like long time hour before it starts to be visible, because it can be a tiny [00:16:00] smoldering fire that eventually transitions into flaming.

[00:16:03] Wojciech Wegrzynski: So you had this incipient stage at which you have not even noticed that there's a fire the same with the, transition to the interior fire. A lot depends when the window breaks. And this is random in a way. I wonder if, if you're observing carpak fires from the first hand and the literature that has grown over the years, you may be following similar conclusions on.

[00:16:27] Mike Spearpoint: Well, I think again, what you're allude, you know, what you're discussing there about the fact that some fires can take quite a long time? What, you know, this, what someone's called in the literature virtual time or incubation time is not, it's not restricted to car fires. I mean, you can go way back to the work that was done, by, NIST when there were, sort of in the 1980s and you've got the various, chairs that they did and the wardrobes and that you can find it in the literature.

[00:16:53] Mike Spearpoint: And in that they recognized that there is this, incubation time where not much is [00:17:00] happening for quite a while. And at some point the, you get this fire then accelerating. And so sometimes when you look at where we represent something as a T square fire, where we're only looking at the bit where the fire started to accelerate, and you miss out that, that period where you've got that long incubation time and you know, other people have, you can see it in. Quintieres principles of fire behavior and various other textbooks where, you know, that's clearly written down, you've got these phases, but sometimes the only bit that might be of interest is that growth part, the T-square growth. And it partly depends, I suppose, what you're interested in.

[00:17:40] Mike Spearpoint: What if you're interested in, , when for example, a heat detector might respond. The fact that there's a long incubation time where not much is happening, kind of says, well, we're not going to get it to respond then. So in terms of calculating some kind of time, it doesn't, you might say it doesn't matter where I [00:18:00] think we are.

[00:18:01] Mike Spearpoint: Missed out or where, it can be important is for example, we were looking instead of smoke detection where that long incubation time still might generate enough smoke, that we can get detection from a smoke detection system. I mean, I can think of experiments I've been involved with in the past , where we'd have smoke detectors in the enclosure of a piece of furniture.

[00:18:25] Mike Spearpoint: but even just igniting the wood crib, the little wood crib you put on the seat was enough for the ionization detector to go off. And the chair hadn't even started burning. So you're already detecting that fire kind

[00:18:37] Mike Spearpoint: of before it's even

[00:18:38] Wojciech Wegrzynski: negative time of detection.

[00:18:40] Mike Spearpoint: Yeah. so again, I'm saying that concept of, or the, you know, the, the idea or the observation of this long incubation time is not unique to car fires, but certainly when you look at, there's a number of sets of data out there on car fires you will gain, see, uh, in some cases you get quite a [00:19:00] long period of time before it goes into that sort of, um, the growth period.

[00:19:04] Mike Spearpoint: And so I think sometimes people kind of look at these sorts of things as oh well is it's only gonna be five minutes before let's say your car fire reaches a megawatt and you go, well, it's actually, it might be 30 minutes. 2025 minutes of not much happening and it smolders and it burns a little bit in the engine compartment.

[00:19:24] Mike Spearpoint: And then you'll get that, growth time. So there's actually potentially a wider opportunity to do something about it. If there's a for means of knowing that fires happening in that incubation time,

[00:19:36] Wojciech Wegrzynski: Okay, but then let's reverse that. And what if you have an experimental curve from a fire experiment and you remember, I think from Metro project, in Sweden, they were burning passenger trains. And, if I recall correctly in one of the experiments, they had very long, let's say this incubation period for the car for the train fire [00:20:00] was not really like in CPN stage hidden because it was.

[00:20:03] Wojciech Wegrzynski: A fairly small fire, a few hundred kilowatts, maybe one megawatt or something, but fairly small fire for train. And then it transitioning to full fire after a certain amount of time, quite long, maybe 30 minutes. And if someone insisted to design now a train tunnel based on that curve, and it just pops there that in the CFD, it's one megawatt fire for 30 minutes.

[00:20:26] Wojciech Wegrzynski: And he said, if this is finished before they even grown to a full size, I mean, that's a ridiculous as well, because if the fire is in fact event based, and in fact there are these points in time where a sudden change occurs in the fire behavior, in the fire dynamics, you don't know when that will happen.

[00:20:48] Wojciech Wegrzynski: So, so that approach would be as bad, I guess, or even worse. What's your opinion.

[00:20:53] Mike Spearpoint: I feel as though a lot of these problems end up becoming stochastic problems where, where we would, we [00:21:00] want to do, you'd want to be able to take multiple simulations or multiple scenarios and assign some kind of, likelihood probability to it, rather than doing, uh, and again, this is where sometimes where you've got a more sophisticated tool that takes quite a bit resourced to set up and run, but you end up owning, be able to run, uh, a small number of scenarios has its limitations versus having, uh, a simpler tool, which you can run multiple times and look at the parameters and you know, this is the sort of thing.

[00:21:33] Mike Spearpoint: One of the things I got involved with, uh, when I, once I ended up at the university of Canterbury was getting involved with the development of, for example, the B risk tool. So you've had Colleen Wade quite a few episodes ago

[00:21:45] Wojciech Wegrzynski: such a good episode, shout out to Coleen. That was an amazing trip zone modeling is not that absolutely.

[00:21:53] Mike Spearpoint: and so , the ability to, again, partly going back to that consistent level of crudeness, but being able to look at [00:22:00] a large number of different. parameters and, and assigning probabilities to them allows you to then sort of look at this saying, rather than relying on one curve or one scenario, but allows you to that chance to look at where the sensitivity might lie and where the, where the probabilistic side of it.

[00:22:18] Mike Spearpoint: And so that's, that was certainly something that became, that piece of work. And then of course, from there we had some work that, I mentioned Greg Baker, cause he, he ended up doing some work on that. So it using that tool, looking at, the ignition, we did this whole stuff where we ran several, enclosure fires with the same bits of furniture, but we ran it several times, burnt it several times.

[00:22:40] Mike Spearpoint: And of course, each time you burn it, even though you've got nominally the same starting condition, It does something different each time. And, and then kind of bringing it back to car fires was where I had a, another student the times Zahir. Um, and he used that same tool to start looking again at carpark fires.

[00:22:59] Mike Spearpoint: And I,[00:23:00] think your idea was to get onto some of this discussion where we were going, looking at a probabilistic approach and some of that led to using the tool to look at, um, car fire ignition. And again, this idea it's, it's going to be a probabilistic type, problem rather than a deterministic world.

[00:23:18] Mike Spearpoint: There's only one design forum, one design scenario that we might use for, uh, for a car park.

[00:23:24] Wojciech Wegrzynski: the fact that you, um, if you take, let's say a very fancy, very advanced, , designed fire being get a direct result of an, a fire experiment. So you literally put a real fire into your simulation and the fact that you use the most advanced tool you can find being CFD or something.

[00:23:46] Wojciech Wegrzynski: Uh, you combining these two and then in the end, The analysis is valued less much less than if you just took, some sort of probabilistic input in terms of possible range of fires. And [00:24:00] they don't even have to be precise from experiments. You can. You can run an even three analysis. you can figure out some credible scenarios and assign probabilities to them, and then density distributions to these probabilities.

[00:24:13] Wojciech Wegrzynski: You can get a very nice looking, probability input and use a simple model, like a zone model, uh, you've mentioned, or one dimensional model for a tunnel and just run, uh, literally thousands. If not millions of simulations and get a much, much. Big picture on what is happening in your building. What is an outcome of a potential fire in the building compared to this very fancy input with an even fancier model that just gives you a single output point that is burdened with all the uncertainties of your modeling and your input.

[00:24:53] Wojciech Wegrzynski: That that is an amazing thing, because it's so hard to convey the message that simple is better [00:25:00] and fires are inherently probabilistic. And this stochastic impose can, can get you only, only this far, but, not further, they will never allow you understanding all of the physics that had happened around you.

[00:25:14] Wojciech Wegrzynski: I hope I got your message correctly

[00:25:16] Mike Spearpoint: sort of, but I mean, I mean, and I don't want to, and I know sometimes I do end up dismissing the more complex tools, but there's some really clever things you can do those complex tools and this idea of probability and selection that, so there was some stuff that myself and only I have listened to the episode, but last week or a week or two ago, you've had Danny, my colleague and Ruben van Coile on.

[00:25:38] Mike Spearpoint: And, and some of the things that particularly Ruben at one point was looking at is, is the ability to take a tool CFD tool, but be more selective about the parameters you choose and be able to do some analysis of that and be able to use, basically not have to run thousands and thousands of simulations, but be able to use some [00:26:00] statistical techniques to get the results you've got from that sophisticated tool and use that to make, sort of, you might say predictions in terms of, um, Uh, a sort of a probabilistic approach.

[00:26:11] Mike Spearpoint: I'm not really explained that very well, even though we did have a paper in them and a conference, but that most of that was Ruben and Danny did the clever stuff. So, so there are, there are ways that we can use the sophisticated tools without having to do the full, Monte-Carlo sort of probabilistic approach from, from sort of turning that handle.

[00:26:31] Mike Spearpoint: But, but it does require some quite sophisticated or some things that are quite clever in terms of, interpreting right. Understanding the results you get from the tool.

[00:26:40] Wojciech Wegrzynski: And then, one thing that interests me a lot and now we're, we're moving through them stuff you did with Tohir when you model the carpark but me as an engineer, when I model the carpark, I. Often close myself to the concept that if it's sprinklered, I just model the one that he will fire. If it's an sprinklered, I have to, [00:27:00] in a way account for the fact that neighboring vehicles may be on fire as well.

[00:27:05] Wojciech Wegrzynski: And I usually do that by, by incorporating the concepts from the Dutch standards, which assigns a certain heat release rate curves to the neighboring vehicles. But it all falls under the assumption that the firefighters intervene around 20th minutes and they can stop the fire. And that's not always the case.

[00:27:25] Wojciech Wegrzynski: And I think now if you take a look at the, fires that occurred in last five years, starting with Liverpool. A huge, huge fire in the car park that destroyed the building, I think, there was a very similar fire in, in Ireland Cork. There was a huge fire in Stavanger airport in Norway and, even in the Warsaw

[00:27:47] Wojciech Wegrzynski: so we had a very similar, huge fire, which involve multiple vehicles and, almost destroyed the residential building that was built on top of the car park. And, uh, so these, these [00:28:00] types of massive, massive fires happen. And if you, then I can look at the statistics. You very rarely find reports of carpark fires that involve I no seven vehicles, nine vehicles, 11 vehicles.

[00:28:14] Wojciech Wegrzynski: It's either one, two, maybe three cars that have been burned or the whole car park fire burned down. So there's this, I don't know a point where it it's like a domino effect that the fire spreads through vehicles very rapidly. And that makes sense to me. Maybe the conditions in the carpark fire are, are such that the multiple vehicles can ignite very quickly from that.

[00:28:40] Wojciech Wegrzynski: But this is something you have investigated with Tohir. And I wanted to hear about that work because you were modeling the spread between vehicles. Maybe you can,

[00:28:48] Mike Spearpoint: yeah. So again, these things take awhile before they sort of there's sort of things going on before the work itself. , I'm just thinking back. So somewhere [00:29:00] along the line, Firstly. So I ended up after doing my master's at university of Maryland. I ended up, taking this position at the university of Canterbury and I think there was sort of discussions going on in New Zealand and probably say Australasia on carpark fires.

[00:29:15] Mike Spearpoint: I mean, it's, a topic that's been going for many years going all the way back to, the work in fire note 10, and, Landon Thomas and Butcher, which has had an influence on what's going still is in our. Guidance documents about fire resistance that, but anyway, it was during that time at Canterbury.

[00:29:32] Mike Spearpoint: and at some point I had a, must have been, uh, I think it was about 2003, 2004. there was now and again, you get emails, someone asks you about, or car park, what do I think might be something for a design. And I have to, you know, kind of in preparation for this discussion, I went through some of my old emails and I found one from around about 2003 or 2004 from a guy called Simon Davis.

[00:29:57] Mike Spearpoint: at the New Zealand fire service as it was then [00:30:00] now I'm saying, saying about all this, um, concern about, people, not putting sprinkler systems in car parks. cause I think the guidance documents or the, exceptional solution in New Zealand might've had, you know, um, putting in sprinklers and he was sort of saying, oh, I, I, you know, this was something that was concerning him from a fire and rescue service sort of point of view.

[00:30:21] Mike Spearpoint: And at some point, I had a student called, , Yuguang Li who w for some reason, I don't remember the background of why, but in the end he did his master's thesis on , this question of carpark fires. And at that point it was interesting. I said to them all, it'd be interesting to do a cost benefit on whether it's worth putting sprinklers in or not.

[00:30:40] Mike Spearpoint: And he ended up doing is a little thesis and there's a couple of papers in the literature. And he looked at it from a property protection point of view. Is, is it worth putting sprinklers in doing a traditional cost benefit analysis? But part of what he did there was he looked at the new Zealand's statistics on how many fires had spread between one car, two cars, three cars.[00:31:00]

[00:31:00] Mike Spearpoint: And in the end he got some statistics, like you're saying, it was kind of like, there's a certain number of one car fires. And then it becomes a certain diminishing number of two cars and three cars. And of course the question is in your mind is, well, is it. I only went to one car, two car, three cars, is it because the fire rescue servers have turned up and they've managed to tackle the fire sufficiently early on that the fire hasn't spread to a neighboring car.

[00:31:27] Mike Spearpoint: And so, they've managed to, suppress the fire sufficiently or is it that there's no other car next, next to it. Right. So just, there isn't the opportunity. and so these are sort of questions you kinda think, oh, well, I don't, and of course the statistics are not nuanced enough to be able to, unless you know, the actual event and you can visit the car park, the statistics, generally, you will say the number of cars that were burned, but it doesn't say the number of cars that potentially could have been burned.

[00:31:53] Mike Spearpoint: Had something not happened. And so it makes you wonder, you think, well, I wonder why it didn't get any further than [00:32:00] that was it by good judgment, good work by the fire and rescue service or good luck. There was nothing next to it. And I remember one point I was out, I'd gone out one evening for some reason, somewhere.

[00:32:12] Mike Spearpoint: And when we parked the car in the car park, the car park was pretty full of cars. And you look around and think, well, if this our car caught fire, it could spread to spread to all these other cars. But by the time we got back from whatever event, it was, a lot of the carpet had been emptied. And then you looked around and there was a cluster of two cars over there and a car standing by itself and another couple of cars over there.

[00:32:34] Mike Spearpoint: And you think, well, now if we'd had this car park fire, it's simply that car could have caught fire, but really realistically it wasn't going to go anywhere else. Because the next car was five bays away. And you think it's unlikely to spread to that. so that would have been that sort of 2004, 2005 and then some, so in my mind, I thought, well, it'd be interesting to do a probabilistic analysis, kind of what's the probability that if [00:33:00] you've got N cars in a car park with Z number of car parking spaces, why cars are parked next to each other, it's kind of a classic thing that I remember at high school used to do these sort of probabilistic problems.

[00:33:13] Mike Spearpoint: You know, when you were learning about Bayes theorem and that, and all those sorts of things that you've got a bag of some black balls and white balls and red balls. And if you pull out a red ball and you know that the probability that the next ball is going to be something else, I thought maybe there's some clever mathematical way of answering my question.

[00:33:29] Mike Spearpoint: What's the probability of so many cars being next to each other. When a car park is only partially full. but hadn't really pursued that any further. He was just like, maybe someday someone could look into that and then someone in the line. I must've got an email from, who eventually became a PhD student.

[00:33:48] Mike Spearpoint: And he, he was being sponsored by his local universities from, and he's back in Malaysia now. And he was being sponsored to do a PhD and he was interested in risk and somewhere along the line, I must've said, oh, [00:34:00] carpark fires. There might be an opportunity to do something with carpark fires.

[00:34:04] Mike Spearpoint: I've got this kind of idea that maybe we could do. There's a probabilistic sort of problem here about this. So many cars and so many roses, that sort of thing. and obviously that somewhere along the line was that he must have thought, yeah, well, that sounds like an interesting problem. It would sort of meet his sort of criteria to look at risk in that.

[00:34:22] Mike Spearpoint: And so in the end Zahir Came to the university. And these, this is a sort of question that we delved into this question of, what's the likelihood that a fire could spread to a no two cars, three cars, four cars. if there's only a limited number of cars in the car park, I remember, I think he went over to the maths department.

[00:34:42] Mike Spearpoint: I said, well, go and speak to the math department. There might be some clever person in maths who says, oh, that's so-and-so's theorem. And we'll be able to do it very analytically, but I didn't manage to find anyone. and in the end, he ended up writing a little model, that basically did it by, Monte-Carlo by [00:35:00] basically populating a sort of an idealized car parking space and then said, if we put ten cars in our car park.

[00:35:07] Mike Spearpoint: And I basically did it, I might say the hard way, but , the way of just turning the handle sounds a bit, but, doing it simulation by simulation to give us this, this may be some insight into this question. What's the likelihood a car fire could spread from one to another. Wow. That's a long story, but

[00:35:26] Wojciech Wegrzynski: That's a long story, but it's a good story. And Zahir is now back to Malaysia, I have some contact with him and, , I often said that that he's a PhD and his work was one of the most inspiring to me in my professional career in terms of work that is like directly useful to what I'm doing.

[00:35:47] Wojciech Wegrzynski: And one of the concepts that you have, together touched because you didn't explain how does a fire, when you would consider the fire spreads from one vehicle to another. And that was with, something [00:36:00] called if I'm not wrong, please correct me. It fluxtime products, which was basically basically the amount of heat.

[00:36:08] Wojciech Wegrzynski: Excessive over some threshold value. So you have a sudden value that does nothing. And then the value of heat that over exceeds debt that accumulates over a time on a certain part of the vehicle that if a critical value for that is met, this causes an ignition of the point. And.

[00:36:28] Mike Spearpoint: Yeah.

[00:36:29] Wojciech Wegrzynski: If I'm not wrong, you've also associated the different, fluxtime product values to, like bumpers, wheels, uh, upholstery side.

[00:36:39] Wojciech Wegrzynski: that is very inspiring to me because now, today I am looking into, you know, CFD modeling or, let's say advanced modeling of carpark fires in the wind conditions. And what we are looking into is how wind changes this probability is that fire spread from one vehicle to another.

[00:36:58] Wojciech Wegrzynski: Because one thing [00:37:00] that the wind does is that it will dilute the temperatures by basically creating a flow inside of the, of the carpark. But then again, you will also put flames in the contact with another vehicle. So the radiation there may be completely different. , so it's an interesting problem. And, we're moving back to the things deviled by you and Zach back then as, as a potential solution, as a trigger, , for the ignition of the next vehicle

[00:37:25] Wojciech Wegrzynski: and I think this is also a brilliant, screening tool. If I may, if you use a approach like that, if you would like calculate, just calculate the value of this accumulated fluxtime product around your source of fire. In, CFD, you can do in Fluent you can do it with basic user defined functions.

[00:37:47] Wojciech Wegrzynski: you can just map is this criteria match? And they were nearby or not because as you said, did the fire do not spread because there was no vehicle or because the conditions have not loads [00:38:00] for that. And, uh, and that's a hell of a different story. If, if, uh, if a car park, has properties, that would not allow the fire to spread and no matter how packed it is, it's just going to be safe.

[00:38:12] Wojciech Wegrzynski: Right? And, and this is something that we want to pursue us as well in future, as an indicator, whether you could go into this, let's say cascading modes, cascading fires scenario is even possible with this architecture. And so far, we already see that, the, for example, height of the car park would be a very, very critical variable in this consideration because how it changes the temperatures around the fire, the, Smoke layer and how it promotes, like reradiation to the sources around. So, so that, that looks like something, we will work with. and did, did you implement this, uh, also in B risk? Uh, w what was the end of the story?

[00:38:53] Mike Spearpoint: well, I mean, I can't take any credit for , the concept of the flux time product model. , I mean, you can go back [00:39:00] to the papers, Gordon Silcox, but I think there was someone before that, which the name escapes me. And even, I think the idea of this cumulative radiation approach probably comes from someone like Harmer theory.

[00:39:11] Mike Spearpoint: So you can go

[00:39:12] Mike Spearpoint: back.

[00:39:13] Mike Spearpoint: to some of that work. so the, yeah, the, the flux time product as a, as a concept was nothing I can take credit for, but where I think it, matches in with, what we've been talking about is as part of our, when we were developing, the B risk tool. So moving from the Branzfire tool to the B-Risk tool, we wanted to create this idea of, uh, item to item, fire spread.

[00:39:34] Mike Spearpoint: And this is where Greg Baker, who I've mentioned already in his PhD, was looking at how might we be able to. I sort of statistical or a probabilistic assessment of if you've got furniture in your room, let's say, and you want to know if the fire starts one chair that it ignites the neighboring chair and so on.

[00:39:54] Mike Spearpoint: and there, we want to look at it stochastically. So the furniture could have different numbers of furniture in your [00:40:00] room and different positions in the room. We wanted to be able to then create a series of design fire curves for each of those or heat release curves. And then, take that back to some kind of design fire curve that says 99% of the time or 95% of the time, we can show that any arrangement of furniture and any numbers of reasonable number of furniture as if you choose a kind of T squared curve that will give you some sort of, Level of confidence that your design will work because you know that 95% or 99% of the time, the heat release curve you get from all your different possible arrangements of furniture, won't be any worse than your T squared, which is what we're going back to our T squared.

[00:40:45] Mike Spearpoint: I think a lot of the benefit of a T squared is it's never meant to represent a real fire. What it does is it gives you a bounding that says it is some kind of upper boundary on the fact that this heat release [00:41:00] curve represents a percentile of, likelihood it's happening. That the fire of this magnitude will occur.

[00:41:06] Mike Spearpoint: It won't be that perhaps a reality. It will be something likely to be less onerous than that. But you, you demonstrate your design works for a sufficiently onerous fire. And I w which path I'm going to take here. So for example, some recent work that I was involved with Charlie Hopkin and his PhD was, was looking at that question for residential fires.

[00:41:30] Mike Spearpoint: And he, basically is a paper that Charlie wrote that looked at this question and said, if you take them the T squared fire, that might be one of the design guide, uh, BS double nine or double nine, or one of those, you can show that it has a certain percentile, exceedance probability or.

[00:41:47] Mike Spearpoint: Going back to the be risk stuff. , so what we were trying to do is doing this, this idea of a design fire generator that Greg Baker was doing, but we wanted to be able to make it relatively, flexible in its calculation. So [00:42:00] part of it was where we went and looked at the point source model and rather than doing a whole sort of sophisticated flame boundary, we sort of looked at the point source model and the, and the applicability of that.

[00:42:11] Mike Spearpoint: And that's where you can see, see the work of a guy called Rob Flurry, who did some good work on the point on, on modeling flames, measuring flames. And that actually, I think ended up in the, in the FDS VMV guides, separate story. And so we got the point source model, but we also wanted to wait to look at the ignition tool and of course, We wanted.

[00:42:34] Mike Spearpoint: And so I think it must have been probably Greg come and have said, oh, we've got this thing called the flux time product model. This might be a good one, a good tool to implement into B risks because it allows us to do this relatively, hold word, simple, but useful application, a point source model for the, fire, an FTP for the fact that a piece of furniture or next piece of furniture would ignite, [00:43:00] it would give us a useful tool to do that.

[00:43:02] Mike Spearpoint: So that got implemented into the B risk tool. And Greg did his work for his PhD. And then at the same time, Zahir here was around. And we probably looked at this tool and said, well, we could, we could, let's give it a go with the car. Problem. And so with Zahir would then we took the B risk tool and the idea of the point source.

[00:43:25] Mike Spearpoint: But what we had to do was get properties for, the materials that you could ignite on your vehicle. In other words, our bumper and, the tires and that, and I think we've got some of the, the properties from some work, and this kind of closes all these loops that, , Martin Shipp had done on carpark fires at BRE in around about 2010.

[00:43:46] Mike Spearpoint: So it was after I obviously I'd moved to Canterbury then, but there was again, another interesting in carpark fires in that, point there. And I was, I'd been in contact with mark. I kept in contact with Martin. So I knew that project was going away. He [00:44:00] kept in contact with me, but they had done some cone calorimeter or some, I think, cone calorie to various parts of the car.

[00:44:07] Mike Spearpoint: And then we took their data. Derived the FTP parameters. So we Zahir, did that work and then use the, B risk tool to try and reconstruct the carpark experimental work that Martin had done, where he had put cars and it burnt one car and had a space between one car. In other words, another car next to each other and got some reasonable results.

[00:44:32] Mike Spearpoint: So, you know, using the B risk tool, using the concept of the FTP, using some data that's in the literature and be able to demonstrate that there was. Merit in that tool. but of course it goes back to the fact that other people had already thought about the FTP through, I'll say that work of Gordon Silcor on that.

[00:44:50] Mike Spearpoint: And through the fact that Greg Baker had seen that, that was a useful tool. And through the fact that Colleen Wade had implemented it into the, to, through the fact that Rob Flurry on the work, on the point [00:45:00] source model. And so it was really important. I think it's so important to kind of see how these things all linked together.

[00:45:06] Mike Spearpoint: I don't know. I, I'm not sure what my role in this and others, and then basically sitting there and

[00:45:11] Mike Spearpoint: pointing at someone says, oh, you might as well go and talk to so-and-so because they've done some really clever stuff. But, for what I like is the way that these things joined together and. You know, one idea builds on another, the classic, we're all standing on the shoulders of giants now, but, but it's, seeing those connections and building those networks. So that one, one person's piece of work suddenly springboards onto something else. , which, which just seems interesting that those things happen.

[00:45:39] Mike Spearpoint: Talking about fat materials in cars, there was another bit of work I did while I was at the university of Maryland, going, looking through my stuff. And I remember I did this course on fabrics and flammability, and so we did a little project. So there was. Uh, Thomas Steinhouse and Steve Olenick Um, so Steve , I [00:46:00] think combustion science and engineering, and Thomas. And so we did it, we, we decided to do this little project. So at the time. Thomas was working on what was called the fist, which was a project that Jose was looking at, flame spread for spacecraft. And we sort of said, oh, it'd be interesting to take, fabrics from old mill motor vehicles and see how much their ignition properties change.

[00:46:23] Mike Spearpoint: Because again, there was this debate that said, well, once you look at a vehicle, vehicle might be 20, 30 years old. So do the properties of the fabrics change. I remember we went off to a breakers yard. Um, we cut bits of material out of different cars. So we were allowed to go in there and, and then we, basically, so I was looking after the cone calorimeter, and Thomas, maybe Steve and Thomas were looking after this project with involved with Jose. And we ended up looking at all these different car fabrics. And again, we ended up publishing a little paper on it and, and Jose was involved. So again, you can see how we kind of connected the fact that we had had a bit of an understanding of fabrics and a bit of sort of [00:47:00] an opportunity came along because of these different things that happened to going on.

[00:47:04] Mike Spearpoint: And that builds onto the next thing that you don't always know what it's going to lead to. and that eventually led to this, this idea of using the FTP and properties that are here, did that. I know it's nice to see that someone else like yourself is seeing some value in that and then taking the

[00:47:23] Mike Spearpoint: next step and saying,

[00:47:24] Wojciech Wegrzynski: It's fundamental, man. it's amazing. And the interplay of this all little things that you've mentioned, how they come up and, uh, randomly pop in a completely different project to change the shape of the project that, that is fire science at its finest. Mike. And it's amazing.

[00:47:42] Wojciech Wegrzynski: And with this cost benefit analysis, for carparks I also, so recently you had a paper that, based on objective assessment, the sprinklers do not really make that much sense. Maybe can tell me a little more about this reason the

[00:47:56] Mike Spearpoint: uh, a piece of work that I ended up supervising. [00:48:00] Co-supervising one of the, one of the students , um, Malika and so. It was myself an Grunde ended up co-supervising that.

[00:48:08] Mike Spearpoint: And we applied , this concept, which my understanding you're going to have another episode possibly, this, this kind of, life quality index and this. Variation on it called the J value, which is, uh, an idea. Various people have, been looking at it as a way of doing cost benefit analysis.

[00:48:25] Mike Spearpoint: so that previous cost benefit analysis that Yougong did use what we might call traditional value of life approach. It was something I actually ended up. I did many, many years before that on smoke detectors. How much is a life worth, but it has some, a whole number of, problems when you, when you assign a monetary value to life in the way that it's been done.

[00:48:46] Mike Spearpoint: , so various people have, I've looked at. way of doing cost benefit analysis that doesn't assign a monetary value to life, but assigns a value in terms of the [00:49:00] quality that you can give to, to extending someone's life. Um, because wrong in this, this previous cost benefit analysis on is it worth putting sprinklers in, in terms of property protection? It seemed to be that it would be useful to maybe look at this concept, this J value concept and reapply it to car parks, and also look at it from a life safety point of view.

[00:49:23] Mike Spearpoint: so in the end, I remember talking to some other separate work on a similar, in the similar direction. So I said, there's various parties working on this. And, and we said, oh, it'd be useful to get a student to maybe revisit kind of Yougong's concept or, and. Decide another look of this, because there, there is a lot of interest around the world from various parties.

[00:49:47] Mike Spearpoint: Stakeholders are saying we should maybe put sprinklers into car parks. I know there's good reason, but is it from a life safety point of view? Is it from a property safety point of view? Is it from a, fire [00:50:00] and rescue service point of view? So we thought it'd be worth taking. J value concept and applying it again to car parks, to look at whether we think it might be worth putting sprint was in or not.

[00:50:13] Mike Spearpoint: And I suppose in the end, the finding is from a life safety point of view, it isn't worth it. And I, and at that is. Essentially, because in terms of the number of fires, which casualties have occurred, it's a small number. Now. It would be fair to someone to say yes, but you've based that on historic data and that historic data is for internal combustion engines, will that change with electric vehicles, autonomous vehicles, and so on, possibly.

[00:50:46] Mike Spearpoint: The data, obviously we don't have a lot of experience of these vehicles and fires in car parks. So getting probabilistic data, we can put into a calculation such as this [00:51:00] is difficult to do. So that is something that clearly is not a closed answer. It will depend on other changes that we might see. The technology of car parks, the technology of cars, the use of cars, the likelihood of fire, the potential for, casualties may change that. Of course there is a debate about whether it's even a good idea to put water on. Lithium battery fires. There is a debate about the fact that if you try and put water onto a car to try and mitigate a fire with a sprinkler, well, cars are designed not to let water.

[00:51:43] Mike Spearpoint: Going back to our question of, historically cars we're putting in carriages because they were not very good at protecting themselves from the elements, modern cars. We design not to let water in them. So therefore the main. Objective. And I think Martin Shipp showed it in [00:52:00] his car park work from 10 years ago is that a sprinkler system will maybe limit the spread to neighboring cars, but it will have a less chance of, suppressing or extinguishing the fire in the car because the water, the fire's in the car, but the water can't get in.

[00:52:17] Mike Spearpoint: So, so there are lots of, again, connections and questions and. Obviously room to, to debate these things. and that, you know, it's a good thing in a way from a policy sort of point of view, it makes it a little bit challenging, should we put sprinklers in car parks? Is it worth it?

[00:52:33] Mike Spearpoint: Should we put in all carparks? Personally, I don't think so. Should we put it in car parks that may be below residential buildings? Well, I can see some merit in that . Should we put in a car park, which is next to some station out in the middle of the countryside, which is an open car park where people park their car to get on the train.

[00:52:51] Mike Spearpoint: Probably not. , there's nothing else nearby. Particularly people can walk away from the car park, putting sprinklers in. probably not, I don't [00:53:00] think it's worth it. so again, a lot of these things is I don't sure that just simply saying, put sprinklers in all car parks is a good idea, but I'm not saying don't put them in any car parks.

[00:53:10] Mike Spearpoint: This is where fire engineering and own analysis. And thinking says, where is, where are those? Where is it meaningful to do it and useful to do it? And where is it kind of, do you want us a waste of time or a waste of. And that that's where cost benefit, you gives you, uh, a tool to think about these things and, and question it from from an economic point of view. And I don't, again, I don't want to get too far down on the, the economic question, but I will say this, I feel as though some people think when, once you start talking about the economics of fire safety, you're kind of put into this sort of box of oh, well, Maybe you don't care about fire safety or you just want to reduce everything and not pay for anything.

[00:53:53] Mike Spearpoint: And I don't think that's as simple as that. I think in the end we only have a certain resources society, for [00:54:00] safety and. It doesn't matter if we took all the money in the world and put it into fire safety, firstly, we still wouldn't be able to solve all this fire safety problems. And secondly, we'd be taking that resource away from other safety concerns that society needs to address.

[00:54:16] Mike Spearpoint: What we have is a limited pie. , whether you're someone who wants lots of taxes and had a big pie for the public to spend on safety or whether you're someone. It doesn't want a lot of taxes and wants a smaller pie. You still have to society how to divvy up that pie. And that's where the economic question is still a useful question to have what proportion of that pie.

[00:54:38] Mike Spearpoint: However, big of that pie is. Should we put on fire safety? Should we put on into hospital, into childcare, into all sorts of things that should we, as a society put value on rightly put value on, but we can't like it or not. We can't solve if we can't solve them all.

[00:54:58] Wojciech Wegrzynski: Yeah. Ruben said [00:55:00] something very, very similar and you're so nice. calling the people who help you on your pathway through here, or whose achievements were very significant. And I would like to drop a name as well in terms of this sprinkler interaction, with fire in, in terms of vehicles, there was amazing, amazing research.

[00:55:20] Wojciech Wegrzynski: Run by a University Ghent, and the spin of company Fire Safety Engineering Solutions. I think they're part of Jensen Hughes by now, run by Xavier Deckers who, who were investigating that a lot. And it's a fantastic project. I really, really need to get him on the show to talk about that because I found that research exceptional and.

[00:55:43] Wojciech Wegrzynski: Now, so you've mentioned the automo MC and the electric vehicles, and we've spent a good while discussing the design fires.

[00:55:51] Wojciech Wegrzynski: How do you think , these changes, the field changes. H how will that impact our design firearm design of the [00:56:00] corporates in general, when we start taking electric vehicles, for example, tech.

[00:56:04] Mike Spearpoint: Yeah. So this topic, the topic of alternative vehicles, I think it already, again, these sorts of things have been, people have been thinking about, for quite a few years now. And I think. when Martin ship was doing that work at 10 years ago, the, the concept of electric vehicles, the concept, the, the question about how alternative vehicles, whether it's hydrogen or electrical or hybrid might be, um, changing the way that car parks are used, was being raised.

[00:56:29] Mike Spearpoint: so again, I'll take a few steps back before we go forward. So one of the projects, I kind of recently got involved with a few years ago was a piece of work I did for the British parking association, on kind of the history of carpark fire safely or fire guidance. Um, because at the time , the government in England was, was asking for, consultation about maybe potential changes to the statutory guidance [00:57:00] ADB.

[00:57:00] Mike Spearpoint: And for one reason or another, they ended up, the BPA got in contact with me, I think maybe through, um, Luke Bisby but I can't remember, maybe I'm not right, but anyway, so, so we ended up doing this, myself and, Danny and, I think Matt and Matt are not from Ofra as well, was involved with this, looking at the, sort of the history of fire, Design in, especially in the UK, and, and a bit international.

[00:57:25] Mike Spearpoint: So the first thing I did was actually did a little bit of a sort of, well, what is the history of car parks? And you can go back and find the car parks. Obviously it's somewhat tied to the history of, cars, the private passenger cars, um, not surprisingly. And you actually find that the, the first car parks, were around about the sort of early 19 hundreds.

[00:57:46] Mike Spearpoint: And of course, some of those first car parks were simply, horse stables that didn't need horses anymore because people put cars in them. and also is interesting at the time where those first cars, they weren't very weather protected. So you couldn't really park them out on the [00:58:00] road because, those old cars didn't have a roof on them.

[00:58:03] Mike Spearpoint: So people want to put them , into, uh, weather protection. So, so they'd stick it in a, wouldn't have been a car at the time. It was probably an old horse stable, but the first car parks, that really became car parks. And one of those buildings is one in Glasgow and the building still exists.

[00:58:18] Mike Spearpoint: I mean, I've got a photograph of it, a hundred and something years later. we're actually for electric vehicles, right? So when you look at the history of car past the first couple of garages that were ever parking buildings were for electric vehicles, the other thing was quite interesting is that you couldn't park your own car.

[00:58:36] Mike Spearpoint: So a lot of the original car parks are either had an attendant who would park the car for you, or they were looking at automated car parks. So some of the early car parks has quite sophisticated at the time machinery to move the car around. and the idea of parking your own car. In the car park wasn't kind of the thing that people did.

[00:58:58] Mike Spearpoint: And, and of course at that point, [00:59:00] A lot of people didn't have cars, you know, in the early 19 hundreds cars were relatively rare. and so when you look at the history of car parks in that early stage, it was basically a storage occupancy because you didn't worry about lifestyle because it was either part by a parking attendant or as automatic.

[00:59:18] Mike Spearpoint: So when you look at it from an insurance point of view, it was basically, as far as I can tell treated like another type of storage occupancy, it was a place to store cars, but, but the world changed, I mean, particularly post-World war two, the world changed in terms of car ownership. Car ownership suddenly became, a much more mass market.

[00:59:40] Mike Spearpoint: and this is where I get interested in social history. In that the other thing, particularly in the UK or post post-war, there were lots of changes in society. So there were changes in society in terms of car ownership, there was the whole. Uh, redevelopment of cities around the UK, post-World war two slum clearances, [01:00:00] uh, the idea of multi-story residential buildings and like a week ago, a separate topic, then that leads you to the Grenfell and the other things which, which I don't want to get into, but it, but also the use of, the idea of motorways out of town shopping and the use of car parks and also changes in then in the way that car parks were used , and kind around about that time or sort of world war two post-World war two, the idea change that people wanted to park their own car and the car park.

[01:00:31] Mike Spearpoint: so you had a change in car parts, you needed ramps, you, you ended up with concrete buildings, concrete car parks, and. the philosophy of carparks was people wanted their freedom to pop part their own car, not have to wait for an attendant. And so that, that kind of changed. And then you look and around about the 1960s, it would have been, and here in the UK, there was a recognition that car ownership was changing significantly.

[01:00:59] Mike Spearpoint: And there was a [01:01:00] question was where are we going to park all these cars? Right? Because lots of more people could afford a car in the UK. Lots more roads were being built, not small opportunities. Take your car somewhere. And therefore car parts became a social kind of focus, but obviously fire came into it.

[01:01:20] Mike Spearpoint: And that's where you see the classic work in fire note 10 and the idea of building your car parks with steel frame, not just of concrete and what sort of fire resistance do we think fires will spread from one to another. And so, and that's where we ended up with also the internal combustion engine.

[01:01:38] Mike Spearpoint: , so going back to the electric vehicles, Richie, all lot of the vehicles were electric vehicles, but you didn't get the range. You didn't have the power. Then you ended up with society said we could get cheap, , petrol diesel in that. So you had all that development of the, of the, Side of the, of industry, which meant the internal combustion engine became the fuel [01:02:00] of choice, because it gave you the range. It gave you the cost-effectiveness. And so where we are coming back to, we're almost coming back to electric vehicles from , where we started all be it electric vehicles, the chemistry of those electric, their batteries are going to be quite different, not something I know, but I understand that you've just had a DK doing a podcast, on, um, battery technology. I know Guillermo rains doing stuff, and, there's lots of people who are doing interesting. I'm sure there's other people I've named, but I'm aware of, but I can't remember. So the electric vehicles have changed, but also the battery technology has changed. And not just the battery technology, but the vehicles themselves have changed. And so now we're in a position where we're sort of interested in alternative vehicles, alternative to the internal combustion engine and that's raising different questions about the fire safety. So how might a fire [01:03:00] develop in a vehicle with a battery in it?

[01:03:02] Mike Spearpoint: How does that fire start in the battery or does it start just in the, the vehicle. the passenger compartment. And does that fire develop differently? Will it be different whether an electric vehicle is on charge or not? there's a lot of, we do a lot of debate about the electric vehicle or catching fire, but if you're going to have charging points for your electric vehicles, you're going to have the infrastructure in the car park that in itself may present a hazard that be.

[01:03:32] Mike Spearpoint: Different to the fact that, that you've got the electric vehicle, um, how did the fire and rescue service, , that deal with, , electric vehicles given , that , those fires in those vehicles may reignite where, which we wouldn't expect in internal combustion engines. So it has now become a topic of interest around the world.

[01:03:52] Mike Spearpoint: This question of electric vehicles, alternative fuel vehicles, car parks, , the safety of fire and rescue [01:04:00] services, the potential for, fire spread. The, where does the fire start? What's the probability. I know there's some I've recently very recently there's been a report from Denmark, , which I've only read the summary cause my Danish is not good enough to read the report.

[01:04:15] Mike Spearpoint: Who said that the, the risk posed by electric vehicles is, would say no worse or is, is not as, as, not as high. Uh, not as great as, um, internal combustion engine vehicles. So, so there is a lot of debate. One of the things I'm quite interested in the moment is also this concept of autonomous vehicles. , so I did this BPA report, and then I ended up going on a, a pre pandemic conference on, parking.

[01:04:44] Mike Spearpoint: So I went to this conference on parking or say nothing to do with fire. I was the only person. I was one of the few people who was interested in fire and a conference. All the discussion was about, was electric vehicles on autonomous vehicles as a kind of the future. And, [01:05:00] and then I thought, well, there's actually some interesting.

[01:05:03] Mike Spearpoint: Opportunities and challenges. If we think about autonomous vehicles that are electrically powered and so myself and one of my colleagues, Steven Dixon has just actually submitted a little paper on, what might those opportunities and challenges be? If you've got autonomous vehicles that are electric vehicles, I mean, if they're autonomous vehicles, it basically means the person can step out of their car and the car will park itself.

[01:05:30] Mike Spearpoint: Almost going back to the original car. Parks says you don't need to drive your car to your parking space. If it can go to its own space place, and you don't, have such a life risk because people aren't in their car, it may might mean you can, , Firstly no. Where the electric vehicles are. You might think about putting different types of suppression systems in, because you're not so concerned about the fact that there might be people in or within the region of their car [01:06:00] because they're electric vehicles.

[01:06:01] Mike Spearpoint: You don't have the same issue with car parks in terms of providing ventilation for, environmental health. You know, a lot of times in car parks, we look about ventilation. It's all to do with, the toxic fumes from the exhaust and the potential for a flammable liquid to cause an explosion electric vehicles change that we don't, as far as I know, have any exhaust issues with an electric vehicle.

[01:06:26] Mike Spearpoint: So therefore ventilation.

[01:06:29] Wojciech Wegrzynski: thermal around the way products can be explosive.

[01:06:31] Mike Spearpoint: Yeah. Yeah.

[01:06:32] Wojciech Wegrzynski: that that's one thing the DK case said, and it's also interesting to, view it as an explosion hazard, but I love, I immediately have the thought that if there are autonomous and electric and there's a fire, like the vehicle's near the, the one that burns can just drive away, that would be , quite funny.

[01:06:47] Wojciech Wegrzynski: Right.

[01:06:48] Mike Spearpoint: could possibly drive away. that might have an impact on fire and rescue service operations. If there's all these cars autonomous moving around. Um, one of the things that was quite interesting to

[01:06:58] Wojciech Wegrzynski: Sorry, Mike. But [01:07:00] one thing that blows my mind, if the car was autonomous and can, could pick you up near your house or at the designated space in your house, you suddenly would not have a need of a car park in your residential building. You can take the whole risk. That's the fire in, in Gorczewska in Warsaw.

[01:07:19] Wojciech Wegrzynski: Uh, fire that cured in a semi-open car park, underneath a residential building that had 10 floors of flats above it. And suddenly because of this fire, all the people are out of the building and cannot come back for three years. And that's a horrible disaster to the local community because suddenly, I don't know, 70 families are without a house.

[01:07:40] Wojciech Wegrzynski: And that's because they had a car park underneath their building that burned down why they had the car park for the convenience of being able to reach their vehicle when it's needed. And if you could just call your vehicle, it can be like five minutes away from you and you just drive away to pick you up.

[01:07:58] Wojciech Wegrzynski: So that literally [01:08:00] changes the needs that drive you to take a higher risk by having a car park in your building. Right. That's fascinating if.

[01:08:09] Mike Spearpoint: And that's why, you know, again, it's interesting and useful to understand from a fire point of view that the technological and social changes, just like we've seen those changes from electric vehicles to internal combustion engines in the sort of 1920s, whatever we've seen, car parks and society change.

[01:08:27] Mike Spearpoint: post-World war two. We're seeing these changes again, potentially on electric vehicles and autonomous vehicles. And that will be. Have some impacts on fire safety. Some of those could be positive, beneficial. Some of them might be more challenging. So for example, when you think about autonomous vehicles, , if you don't need to be in your car, you don't need.

[01:08:50] Mike Spearpoint: The ability to open the doors to get in and out so you can pack more cars into a car park. Right? So when we look and there's another little [01:09:00] project I did, which I think Zahir here and Antonio Abu and, uh, one of the other students involved with this question of what's the fire load for car parks. We've got a basis of assert a certain space per car because we need space for the vehicle to be accessed by the passengers.

[01:09:17] Mike Spearpoint: But once you think about autonomous vehicles, you don't need to have that space. You don't actually need to have the traffic lanes. You can. of the cars, much more densely in a car park, and that will have potential in impact impacts on the potential, the five resistance requirements. Cause your fire load, it will have maybe impacts on the farm rescue service that the car on fire might be one in the middle of a pack of cars that you can't easily access.

[01:09:45] Mike Spearpoint: So they might be able to get their hose lines to it in a more efficient way. So, so there might be those challenges, but those challenges might be mitigated by the very reason is you don't need your car park underneath your residential building anymore. You have it somewhere [01:10:00] else. And your car comes to you rather than you go to your car.

[01:10:04] Mike Spearpoint: So for me, it seems to be, it's kind of useful to think about these things because the buildings we're building now or renovating now. We'll be changing or chain thing is things will change in the future because of , other reasons, these technological reasons or societal reasons. I mean, you're right.

[01:10:24] Mike Spearpoint: So the Liverpool Echo arena, carpark fire, , has got knocked down and they're rebuilding it. They're rebuilding a new car park there and in rebuilding it, obviously these questions, uh, come up. How many electric vehicle charging points should we have? , but there, I see that maybe designers could be thinking saying, well, what, how might carparks be using five years or 10 years or whatever.

[01:10:49] Mike Spearpoint: , and how might we look at that from a fire safety point of view? Now, am I trying to predict exactly what's going to happen? Whether autonomous vehicles are going to be the next thing or not? [01:11:00] I might be right. I might be wrong. Literature says that they're growing in market size and that, but of course, is it just people trying to sell up the fact that they want autonomous vehicles, but it is interesting to, at least think about these things and where possible can we address them?

[01:11:15] Mike Spearpoint: Because these changes are lightly, something's going to change. I mean, what we know is that the only constant is change or some words like that. , so we see that with, with technology and society, and I don't see technology and society. Stopping. but buildings, we have a life of buildings that may be 30, 40, 50 years or the life of a car part where, and uses those car parks and the vehicles that go in them are going to change.

[01:11:42] Mike Spearpoint: And they will have some kind of impact on fire safety, whether that's, let's say with that. So, mitigating something or, or increasing something that's for us to kind of think a bit and sort of say, well, it might be this, it might be that what might we do to, design decisions to, to [01:12:00] somewhat think about whether we can address those.

[01:12:04] Wojciech Wegrzynski: Man, considering building as a system that catheters to the temporary needs , of society. And. Point of time and understanding the threats related, uh, that are actually coming out of these needs. This is level of holistic thinking. I hate to think no one has, gotten this podcast yet. I, I think Brian was probably the closest with the social technical systems or fire safety, but, wow, this is mind breaking, but , so refreshing and so interesting way to think about, the issues in the fire safety.

[01:12:39] Wojciech Wegrzynski: And it goes well, well beyond fire safety of car parks and, and vehicles, thank you so much for, for this talking like this. And, there is so many topics we need to have a chat about and, I'm looking forward to, to do that, uh, that thanks a lot, man.

[01:12:55] Wojciech Wegrzynski: That was great.

[01:12:56] Mike Spearpoint: Yeah. Well, thanks for having me. Thanks for listening to me, [01:13:00] ramble on, um,

[01:13:01] Wojciech Wegrzynski: if I was used to like three hour Joe Rogan style podcast episodes, I would just keep, let you keep going, but probably not

[01:13:10] Mike Spearpoint: I think your audience might have, might find that listening to me for four hours might be a little bit, a little bit more than they're willing to take.

[01:13:19] Wojciech Wegrzynski: Well, that's an experiment we can try one day, like a super long episodes, just rambling and fire safety level. We'll call it like that. This is going to be great,

[01:13:28] Mike Spearpoint: Yeah. People can jump, jump in and jump out a

[01:13:30] Mike Spearpoint: random

[01:13:31] Wojciech Wegrzynski: in, jump out and there's, there's always interesting discussion on going with them for each jumping. , that would be so cool.

[01:13:37] Wojciech Wegrzynski: Thank you so much for, for taking the invite and see around Mike.

[01:13:40] Wojciech Wegrzynski: And that's it. At difficult episode to summarize, , because of the broadness of the discussion

[01:13:47] Wojciech Wegrzynski: but I think this broadness, the fact that we've touched so many aspects that all influenced the safety in the car park. That's something interesting and inspiring. I mean, truly holistic view. Even to [01:14:00] go into what Mike said about how the CapEx are used today and how may be used in 20 30, 50. Years from now when we will be dealing with completely different vehicles with completely different challenges.

[01:14:12] Wojciech Wegrzynski: Increasing fuel loads, but automation, maybe we can move them away from our high risk buildings, this is exciting world of possibilities, and I'm very glad that I've been given a chance to explore it. With Mike in, in front of y'all. And yeah, I hope you've enjoyed it thoroughly.

[01:14:30] Wojciech Wegrzynski: Roughly as I did. and next content next Wednesday. See you there. Cheers.