Aim: The main purpose of this article is to describe and evaluate of hybrid fire models which have been developed all over the world in the last several decades.

Introduction: Computer modeling of fires was introduced in the early eighties. Several hundred fire models have been created till now from the simplest integral to the most complex field one, using CFD (Computational Fluid Dynamics) technique. Field models require very long time for single simulation (the simpler objects need often about several dozen hours for simple scenario and even hundred hours for more complex scenarios). That was the main reason for appearance of a new idea in modeling of fires. Several hybrid models have been carried out in the end of nineties and in the beginning of this century. Its accuracy was comparable with field models, but time needed for single fire scenario was significantly shorter.

Methodology: This article contains basic information on hybrid models and includes their evaluation. One of the first models was a result of work made by Charters and McIntosh on Leeds University (England), which effected in FASIT program created for studying of fires in tunnels and FAS 3D being a three-dimensional version of the first one (fires in compartments). CFD modeling elements were used in this program and each gas layer was divided into the grid of control volumes. For the first time, the mixing zone was separated into upper and lower zone. Obtained model has both main features of the field and zone models, what enables to simulate the gas fire environment in compartments more precisely than with the typical zone model without the need of performing long and expensive calculations. In turn, Chow proposed a method of using the existing CFAST tool for larger compartments. He divided the analyzed volume into several smaller cells (he examined cases with 3, 9 and 15 cells), and then, for each one of them he used the same approach as for single compartment. In 2002, Suzuki et al. proposed a modified multilayer model. He divided single compartments into horizontal layers with equal heights and determined the same parameters for each one of them using the equations following from mass and energy conservation laws. Another approach to the hybrid model was proposed by Hua et al. They used a combination of field and zone models to simulate and analyze the fire smoke propagation in multistorey building. It was assumed that in compartments with more complex fire dynamics, that is, i.e. with a fire source, the calculation mechanism would be consistent with the field model, while in compartments where the hot and cold zones are determined more clearly (i.e. corridors, compartments located farther from the fire source), the zone model should be used.

Conclusions: Article presents several characteristics which show time curves of under-ceiling layer thickness achieved for the proposed model and for the typical zone and field models. Last of the mentioned solutions seems to be very interesting, but even in compartments with simpler fire dynamics where the zone model was used, unpredictable processes can occur (i.e. unsteady flows, local whirls). They can result in considerable spatial differences of calculated parameters, such as: temperatures, pressures, gas concentrations, etc. Based on the evaluation and comparison of discussed hybrid models one can claim, that neither of them doesn’t meet all requirements. There is still a lot of work that should be done on these models to improve them by consideration of the following aspects: changes of fire parameters in every cell, turbulence model, application of universal model of extinguishing systems including sprinklers, mist heads and nozzles, affecting of fire on building construction, possibility for user to influence on the calculation accuracy, determining of actual oxygen consumption and influence of different factors on combustion and pyrolysis process.

Keywords: fire modeling, field fire model, zone fire model, hybrid fire model, CFD technique

Type of article: original scientific article