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New report: Fire safety in semi-automatic parking facilities

Semi-automatic parking facilities are parking facilities with a system for automatic stacking of cars, but in contrast to fully automatic parking facilities, these are not closed, compact, and unavailable for the public. The main goal of this study has been to collect information about semi-automatic parking facilities and factors that affect fire safety and to contribute to increased safety in such facilities.
A fire simulation was conducted to compare fire spread in a semi-automatic parking facility to fire spread in an ordinary parking facility. The results indicate that the spread of fire from the car that was first ignited to another car happens approximately equally fast in the two scenarios. Thereafter, the fire spread faster in the semi-automatic parking facility compared to the ordinary parking facility. Although these results should only be considered as indicative, they do show that decreasing the distance between rows of cars can lead to a much faster fire spread. The simulation also shows that the size of a fire in a relatively closed-off parking facility is not necessarily controlled by the number of cars but by the access to air. Hence, the number of openings and properties of ventilation systems in such facilities are important factors to consider when assessing fire safety.

A study of regulations and experiences with semi-automatic parking facilities in Norway and other countries as well as aspects that increase risks in semi-automatic parking facilities was conducted. No specific fire-related experiences were discovered, but this is not surprising when considering that fires in parking facilities are relatively rare and there are relatively few semiautomatic parking facilities. In addition, these types of facilities are relatively new.

The study found regulations for fully automatic parking facilities in Norway, but semiautomatic parking facilities are not covered by the same regulations. The current regulations do not ensure that the authorities are informed when automatic car-stacking systems are installed in existing parking facilities that are open to the public. There are no regulations ensuring that a fire safety assessment is conducted when an automatic car-stacking system is installed in an existing building regulated for parking that is accessible to the public.

It is our opinion that there is a need for a new assessment of fire safety when a system for car stacking is established in an existing parking facility.

The study is commissioned by the Norwegian Directorate for Civil Protection (DSB) and the Norwegian Building Authority (DiBK).

Read the full report in Norwegian with English summary: (pdf)
 

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