A method for linking safety factor to the target probability of failure in fire safety engineering
Ensuring occupants’ safety in building fires is one of the most important aspects for fire safety engineering. Many uncertainties are inevitably introduced when estimating the occupant safety level, due to the high complexity of fire dynamics and the human behaviour in fires. Safety factor methods are traditionally employed to deal with such uncertainties. This kind of methods is easy to apply but leaves fire safety engineers unsure of the margin by which the design has failed. A method of linking safety factor and probability of failure in fire safety engineering is proposed in this study. An event tree is constructed to analyse potential fire scenarios that arise from the failure of fire protection systems. Considering uncertainties related to fire dynamics and evacuation, the traditional deterministic safety factor is considered as a random variable. Because there is no target probability of failure accepted by the whole fire safety engineering community, the concept of expected risk to life (ERL) is integrated to determine the target probability of failure. This method employs a Monte Carlo Simulation using Latin Hypercube Sampling (LHS) to calculate the required safety factor. A practical case study is conducted using the method proposed in this study.
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