University of Canterbury project looking at car parking buildings and fires
September 1, 2014
The potential for a fire to spread through a multi-storey car parking building is largely dependent on how many cars are
parked in the building, the size of the vehicles and the way they are distributed at any given time.
If a fire does start in a car parking building, it has the potential to spread between neighbouring cars and could
result in catastrophic damage and loss of life. One of the university’s fire engineering PhD students Zahir Tohir is
undertaking research on the risk of fire in these buildings and he has developed a model which assesses the probable
severity of incidents in the event of a fire.
Engineering final-year honours students Cole Anderson and Nic Bell are currently doing a survey of car parking buildings
as a full year research paper which gives students an insight into postgraduate studies.
``There is an acceptable solution for car parking building design but it does not distinguish between different types of
parking building The question is then how large of a fire should a car parking building be designed for?’’ Anderson
``However, there is currently almost no real data to compare the accuracy of a model to design a car parking building to
take into account a potential fire. The aim of our project is to collect data from different types of car park buildings
and analyse it to see if Zahir’s model predicts similar results.
``We studied more than 4400 cars at shopping mall and hospital car parking buildings around Christchurch. We looked at
two issues – cars in single rows and cars facing each other in double row,’’ Anderson says.
The project will continue through to next year and the researchers hope to have more information over summer. The
University of Canterbury has one of the leading fire research groups in New Zealand and the research is being supervised
by Associate Professor Michael Spearpoint.
Bell and Anderson will present their study to the university’s annual civil and natural resources engineering research
conference on campus next month (October 18).