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21 Aug 2015

A project for Communities and Local Government Sustainable Buildings Division

Fires in car parks are fortunately quite rare, but, although there have been few deaths or injuries recorded to date in the UK, there are concerns regarding new and emerging risks from modern cars and alternative fuels.

It is essential that the Building Regulations (via Approved Document B (Fire safety) (AD B)) are able to offer the best practicable and proportional guidance for the fire safety and fire protection of buildings which are above, or contain, enclosed car parks.  The UK Government’s Communities and Local Government Sustainable Buildings Division have therefore commissioned BRE to carry out a three year project to examine fire spread in car parks.

The basis for the existing guidance in AD B for fire safety strategies in car parks relates to fire initiation and fire growth, and is based on research involving cars whose design is (now) decades old.  There is increasing and widespread concern about the effect of modern car design on the ignition and growth of fires (e.g. increasing electrical power, greater use of insulation materials, plastic fuel tanks) and how these fires may spread to other vehicles parked adjacently or nearby; by thermal radiation, direct flame impingement or running fuel fires (from a fuel spill or tank rupture).  This concern has been heightened by the increasing numbers of cars powered by alternative fuels such as LPG, and the possibility of cars using hydrogen.

There is therefore a need to gather up-to-date information on all aspects of fires involving cars in car parks in order that the current fire safety guidance can be reviewed and, where necessary, updated.

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