Establishing effective fire prevention and protection programs begins with the identification of fire risk. Fire hazards can be unique to each facility within an industry and must be quantified in terms of:
- Potential Fire and Explosion Severity
- Probability of Fire and Explosion Occurrence
Fire severity is based on the nature and quantity of combustible/flammable materials. This requires an assessment of unit operations or fuel loading to determine the configuration and quantity of material that might be involved in a fire. Once fuel load values are determined, an estimate of fire duration and intensity can be made.
Explosion severity can be determined by quantitative determination of release parameters. Releases must be properly characterized (e.g., liquid or gaseous release, two-phase flow, flashing and pool evaporation rates, etc.) to provide accurate mass and release rate values for flammable gas/vapor cloud formation. Once the event parameters term(s) has been defined, engineering calculations and/or computer based modeling is used in determining the potential yield and resulting effects of deflagrations/detonations. Analysis of these events can be performed using TNT equivalency, Multi-energy models, and other tools.
Fire or explosion occurrence probability is determined through categorizing Fire/Explosion event scenarios. These are typically done through the use of fault tree and event tree modeling which graphically presents the potential propagation of a given event to its various possible outcomes. These outcomes are based on the probability of ignition, fire/ignition detection, automated suppression system or other safeguard reliability, likelihood of containment/mitigation of the event through passive barriers, and manual suppression/intervention response. These analyses result in a list of possible fire/explosion outcomes where a given severity level can be matched with its likelihood of occurrence. These scenarios then form the basis for monetized annual fire risk determination through the assignment of likely dollar losses from property damage, business interruption potential, and related factors.
Once characterized, fire risk determination values can be used to assess the cost-benefit of construction and/or safeguard feature upgrades for making risk-informed loss prevention upgrades.