Experimental Investigation of Firebrand Accumulation Zones in Front of Obstacles
Samuel L. Manzello, Sayaka Suzuki
It is well accepted that as structures are exposed to wind, stagnation planes are produced around structures. Past work by the authors demonstrated for the first-time that wind-driven firebrand showers may accumulate in these stagnation planes. While those experiments demonstrated this important phenomenon, due to the limited duration of firebrand showers of the original NIST batch feed Firebrand Generator, it was not possible to perform a more systematic study. To this end, a series of detailed experiments were performed using the recently developed NIST Continuous-Feed Firebrand Generator capable of firebrand showers of unlimited duration. Full-scale walls of varying orientation were placed downstream of the device and the wind speed was varied in increments up to 10 m/s. The experiments were conducted in the Building Research Institutes Fire Research Wind Tunnel Facility (FRWTF). For a given wall orientation exposed to specific firebrand size/mass distribution, it was observed that wind speed influences not only the spatial location and extent of the accumulated firebrands in the stagnation plane in front of the wall, but also the nature of the smoldering combustion intensity of the accumulated firebrands. The experiments demonstrated that higher wind speeds (10 m/s) did not promote accumulation of firebrands in stagnation planes in front of walls. The data may be used to provide guidance to appropriate separation distances that combustibles should be placed near structures and is also of great use to develop and validate computational fluid dynamic (CFD) models of firebrand accumulation.