Conference themesThe conference themes at FIVE will be the following:
Fire Development in Vehicles
Fire risks in vehicles with alternative fuels, e.g. electric, hybrid, gas, ethanol etc.
Fire detection and Fire Suppression in Vehicles
Regulations and Standards
Fire Statistics and insurance issues
Incident Management and case studies
Fire Development in Vehicles
The majority of bus fires start in the engine compartment. The situation is similar for most vehicles equipped with an internal combustion engine. How can these fires be controlled, or in the best case entirely avoided? Electrical engines may start fires due to electrical faults. The available electrical power may be considerable, e.g. in a train or in the battery pack of a car. The development of fires in vehicles will be a central theme of FIVE – Fires in Vehicles. In this context we will discuss research results concerning large scale testing and the definition of relevant safety provisions for vehicles as input to the development of regulations and standards.
Electrical and hybrid vehicles introduce new risks mainly through the large battery assemblies that are carried on the vehicles. More and more studies have been initiated lasting recent years concerning the fire properties of battery assemblies and tactics for fire suppression. Hydrogen as a fuel has attracted considerable interest due to the clear environmental benefits that it offers in terms of efficient fuel-lean combustion, resulting in high thermal efficiency. At the same time the wide flammability limit, low ignition energy, low autoignition temperature, and its propensity to leak introduce new challenges from a fire safety perspective. Even alternative fuels that are similar in many ways to conventional fuels, such as E85 (85% ethanol, 15 % gasoline), require a risk assessment despite the fact that this fuel is quite similar to conventional gasoline.
FIVE will provide a forum for the discussion of important issues concerning all alternative fuels including: what hazards do these new fuels pose and how can industry, regulators and first responders deal with these hazards.
Many incident reports show that the driver is not the first person to first observes a fire on a vehicle. Sometimes it is not even a person in the vehicle but rather someone driving behind it who first observes the fire. An efficient fire detection system would greatly enhance the time available for egress in the event of a fire. Once a fire has started it is important to control and ultimately extinguish the fire as early as possible to avoid injuries, loss of lives and cost. FIVE will discuss experience from Sweden which shows that the presence of afire suppression system in the engine compartment of a bus, greatly reduces the cost for insurance companies and how this can be expanded to new potential applications.
Relevant regulation concerning fire performance of vehicles is patchy at best. In some fields there has been significant progress in recent years (e.g., trains) while other fields have resisted change for decades (e.g., requirements for the fire performance of material in the interior compartment of cars). It is clear that there must be an open dialogue concerning the need for regulations and cooperation internationally concerning their development. FIVE will offer a forum for identification and discussion of our most pressing regulatory needs.
Statistics from Sweden and Norway indicates that 1-2 % of all buses catch fire each year. This is a high percentage that shows that the potential benefit from improved bus fire safety is considerable. At the same time, recent statistics have shown that requirements concerning fire suppression systems in engine compartments have drastically reduced the number of totally burned buses. Further study is needed of the frequency and extent of fires in vehicles internationally to generate an understanding of the risks associated with fires in vehicles and to identify those risks which most need addressing. FIVE will provide an opportunity for international discussion of experience of fires in vehicles and a first identification of our most pressing challenges for the future.
Fire investigations are crucial for improving the knowledge of the main root causes for fires in vehicles. This provides input both to regulation and to first responders in terms of defining what can be expected in vehicle fires. Incident Management is based to a large degree on experience of previous incidents and as new vehicle technologies emerge new strategies need to be developed. First Responders are in dire need of guidance concerning how to respond to fires in new vehicles, in particular in cases where they have least experience (e.g. Hydrogen vehicles) but also in cases where new technology is reaching increasing market penetration ahead of the generation of necessary knowledge concerning how first responders should react in post-crash incident management (e.g., hybrid vehicles). Incident management will be a key area of discussion at FIVE with knowledge drawn from specific case studies.