Aim: This article considers the need to revise fire strategies for car parks. Do modern vehicle designs introduce a changing risk profile? Could new concepts in car park design also affect the risk profile? And, most of all, should fire strategies better address the issues of property protection, business continuity and environmental protection?
Introduction: At the beginning of 2018, a massive fire affected a multi-storey car park in Liverpool. The car park serves a nearby major arena that was hosting a horse show at that time. Fortunately, there were no fatalities. However, the damage was extensive as approximately 1,150 cars were destroyed, many people were evacuated and some animals had to be rescued.
Conclusions: Following the fire, several questions were asked. Could such a fire have been prevented? What lessons can be learned? Would a fire sprinkler system have prevented the fire from growing so large? Sometimes, when discussing the issue of fire safety, we mainly focus on the potential consequences of a fire for human life. The majority of fire safety regulations around the world focus on the protection of human life, with other objectives being rarely duly considered. However, the fire that occurred in the UK has shown that perhaps we need to consider much more factors and thoroughly analyse the fire strategies of buildings. The term “fire strategy,” thought widely used, often appears misunderstood, even by those operating within the fire safety sector. In essence, a fire strategy needs to be specific to the unique set of fire-related parameters of the building or structure to which it applies, including the processes that occur within it and the actual occupancy profiles. Moreover, it should be modified and adjusted when necessary, in order to remain adequate for its inherent goal, which is to prevent and mitigate fire incidents and their impact. The factors dictating the need for document modification include changes in the legislation or stakeholder requirements, revised building structures or layouts, changes in the occupancy or use of the building, and new technology or research. The fire strategy process is covered by BS PAS 911, and it is actually designed for more complex building arrangements or special structures where no obvious or quick solutions can be found. The question is whether the Liverpool car park represented such complex geometry?
Keywords: car parks, fires in car parks, fire strategies
Type of article: case study