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Development of a Fire Hazard Assessment Method to Evaluate the Fire Safety of Passenger Trains



Richard D. Peacock, Richard W. Bukowski, Paul A. Reneke, Jason D. Averill, S. H. Markos


U.S. passenger train fire safety has historically been addressed primarily through the citation of small-scale flammability and smoke emission tests and performance criteria promulgated by the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA). This approach has focused on the primary combustible materials of rail car components such as seats and wall and ceiling panels. As fire safety regulations for buildings move toward performance codes, there has been interest in the application of fire hazard assessment to passenger rail cars using modeling techniques. To develop such an alternative approach, a systematic study of the fire performance characteristics of current rail car materials was conducted. First, the heat release and smoke production of actual materials in use were characterized in the Cone Calorimeter. Next, full-scale assembly tests of components such as seats and interior panels constructed of these same materials were conducted in a furniture calorimeter. Finally, full-scale tests of passenger rail cars incorporating the tested components were conducted. The predictive accuracy of fire hazard modeling techniques was assessed against the full-scale test results. The model's utility in evaluating alternative fire safety improvements, such as automatic suppression or smoke venting was demonstrated. The paper provides an overview of work to date. It is expected that this work could lead to the recognition of fire hazard-based methods as an alternative to the current prescriptive requirements for passenger rail and transit vehicles.
Proceedings Title
Interscience Communications Limited
Conference Dates
January 22-24, 2001
Conference Location
San Antonio, TX
Conference Title
Fire and Materials 2001. 7th International Conference and Exhibition


passenger trains, hazard analysis, fire safety, fire models, test methods, heat release rate, railroads, transportation


Peacock, R. , Bukowski, R. , Reneke, P. , Averill, J. and Markos, S. (2001), Development of a Fire Hazard Assessment Method to Evaluate the Fire Safety of Passenger Trains, Interscience Communications Limited, San Antonio, TX, [online], (Accessed April 25, 2024)
Created January 22, 2001, Updated February 19, 2017