FIRE CASE STUDIESNew York TWA Flight 800 Fuel Tank Vapour Air Explosion 1996On 17 July 1996, TWA Flight 800, a Boeing 747, experienced a catastrophic in-flight break-up and explosion while flying off the coast of Long Island, New York. The cause of the accident was an explosion of the centre wing fuel tank, resulting from ignition of the flammable fuel-air mixture in the tank. The source of the blast could not be establish with confidence but assessment of other sources reveals that the most probable origin was a short circuit in fuel quantity indicator near the wing fuel tank.
There were no survivors – 230 people on board were killed (Krause 2003, p. 399). One Meridian Plaza Fire - 23 February 1991At approximately 8:40 p. m. of 23 February 1991, the Philadephia Fire Department received a report of a fire on twentieth floor of the thirty-eight story Meridian Bank Building, commonly known as One Meridian Plaza. The blaze burned for more than nineteen hours. The fire caused three fire-fighter fatalities and injuries to twenty-four fire fighters. The twelve alarms brought fifty-one engine companies, fifteen ladder, companies, eleven specialized units, and over three hundred fire fighters to the scene. .
It consumed eight floors of the building and was controlled only when it reaches a floor protected by automatic sprinklers. The fire was caused by spontaneous ignition of improperly stored linseed-soaked rages that were being used to restore and clean. Eighteen and one-half hours later, the Philadelphia City Fire Department declared it under control on the 30th floor – the first floor above the fire floor that had an automatic sprinkler system. According to the NFPA, the following significant factors affected the outcome of the fire.
The lack of automatic sprinklers on the floor of fire origin. The effectiveness of automatic sprinklers on the 30th floor, which, supplied by fire department pumpers, and halted the fire’s vertical spread. The lack of early detection of the incipient fire by automatic means and inadequate pressures for fire hoses because settings of pressure-reducing valves were too low for the specific application in this building. The inappropriate storage and management of harmful, materials, producing both the initial ignition and rapid early fire growth.
The early loss of the building’s main electrical service and emergency power (Craighead p. 315). Bradford Soccer Stadium – 11 May, 1985At approximately 3:40 pm on Saturday, May 11, 1985, 56 people died and more than 300 were injured, many severely, as a result of a rapidly spreading fire at outdoor soccer stadium in Bradford, England, a medium-sized industrial city 171 miles north of London. The fire occurred in the main grandstand, which may have been occupied by as many as 5000 people. The portion of the grandstand in which the fire began consisted of wood bleacher seats and flooring and lightweight wood materials.
A double-peaked combustible wood roof consisting of felt insulation and various layers of tar over wood members covered the entire 290 by 55 ft. grandstand. Based on the NFPA study of the fire, the following factors contributed significantly to the fire spread and subsequent loss of life. Ignition of accumulated trash below the wood bleachers and the initial fuel supply provided by the trash and lightweight wood bleacher materials. Combustibility of the wood bleachers and roof structure and the influence of the structure on fire spread once the flames reached the roof deck.
Failure of patrons to perceive the danger of the developing fire in the early stages and begin evacuation. Once direction occupant flow design of aisles and exists and lack of sufficient number of open and available exits (Cote 2003, p. 2).