Succesful study day with live fire test!

Why organise a study day?

On the 13th of November the results of the research project "Fire safety in underground sprinklered car parks" were presented on a specifically organised study day at the firefighter academy "Campus Vesta" in Ranst, Belgium. All Belgian departments of the fire and rescue services were invited to attend the event. In total about 80 invitees were present, comprised of different stakeholders such as: firefighters, government agencies and project developers.

Study day programme

The study day was kicked off by a presentation of Patrick Merckx and Dominique Goidts (Cegelec Fire Solutions) on the structure of the fire tests. Thereafter Xavier Deckers (Fire Engineered Solutions Ghent) elucidated the newly developped Fire Brigade Intervention Model (FBIM) and the main findings of the fire tests. The newly developed FBIM allows to objectify the risk of firefighter intervention in underground car parks. It compares the time between the onset of the fire and time of firefighter intervention to the moment at which untenable condition are reached. The new findings of the 60 large scale fire tests were also incorporated into this model. 

After the presentations a live fire test was performed, in which the reduced design density for sprinklers was shown to be able to control the fire. The fire test was broadcasted on a large screen and provided with expert commentary by professor Bart Merci of Ghent University.

Prof. Bart Merci geeft live commentaar bij de demonstratie

The presentations were concluded by Jan de Saedeleer (Director fire prevention at the ministry of Internal Affairs) , who commented on recent fires and the necessity of a uniform approach in tackling fire prevention across all departments of the fire and emergency services. He further expressed his appreciation of the large scale testing series and the new insights gained from them.

Test set-up

The following movie gives an overview of the test set-up which was used. It was created during the first set of tests in the presence of the members of the working group, tasked with setting the framework of the FBIM. The working group consists of representatives of both government and the major fire and rescue services.

Main findings of the research project

The FBIM developed by FESG obectifies the residual risk and is a performance based alternative to prescriptive regulations. It is scientifically based and founded on a large number of large scale fire tests, it takes both the efficiency and the reliability of systems into account.

To clarify the conclusions of the fire tests the term efficacy needs to be exemplified. The term combines both the reliability of the system (chance that the fire safety measures activate when needed) and the efficiency of the system (how does the system perform, when activated).

  • For small parkings a sprinkler network connected to the water mains attains a high efficacy. Even when the design is based on 8 sprinkler heads rather than 12, a high efficiency (similar to a design for 12) is obtained. The reliability is however much higher due to the connection to the water mains. This results in a higher efficacy.
  • For large car parks a sprinkler system in combination with limited smoke and heat control leads to the best results. The fire tests showed that the efficiency of the sprinkler network is much higher when only limited ventilation is present. This causes the efficacy of a sprinkler system combined with a limited smoke and heat control system to be much higher than a combination of the two systems according to current regulations.

During the fire tests the opportunity was given to all fire and rescue services to be present both inside and outside of the test set-up. 96% of firefighters present during the tests indicated that they would prefer a sprinkler system to a smoke and heat control system. It was also shown that visibility remained intact via handheld thermal imaging cameras, even after activation of the sprinklers.

National press coverage

The study day was covered by several national journalists.

Partners in the project?

The partners in this research project are Cegelec Fire Solutions and Ghent University. The project is partially being funded by the "Vlaams Agentschap voor Innovatie en Ondernemerschap".

Real applications in your building projects?

How can this add value to your construction project? We regularly give infosessions with practical examples of underground car parks where tailor-made solutions provide the most reliable and cost-effective solution. It is not uncommon to save between 40 and 50% on installation and maintenance cost by making the righ combinations. Want to know more? send an email to

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