King`s Cross Underground Fire Presentation

Report
Overview
0 November 18, 1987
0 Large flashover fire on an
escalator
0 Killed 31 people
0 Injured more than sixty
0 Result of many safety
hazards
0 Aftermath of fire included
implementation of
numerous safety regulations
Existing Hazards
0 Old wooden escalators
0 Dirty running track (grease,
hair, paper, etc.)
0 Toxic paint
0 Smoking ban consistently
ignored
0 46 similar small fires in about
30 years
0 32 result of careless smoking
0 No assigned safety personnel
0 No safety procedures
Timeline
0 7:25 p.m. Fire started
0 7:30 p.m. Fire reported
0 7:39 p.m. Police began
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evacuating passengers
through escalators
7:40 p.m. Trains ordered not
to stop at King’s Cross
7:43 p.m. Fire engines arrived
on site
7:45 p.m. Large flashover
occurred
7:46 p.m. Full evacuation from
station ordered
1:46 a.m. Fire extinguished
Root Causes
0 Several combustion points
found on escalators
0 All on right hand side
0 Several gaps in escalator
treads found
0 Large build-up on track
analyzed
0 Found to be easy to ignite
0 Fires extinguished
themselves in 9 minutes
0 No evidence of flash fire
Root Causes
0 Debated continued over the cause of the flash fire
0 Ceiling paint?
0 Piston effect?
0 Neither explanation was very good
Root Causes
0 Computer modeling done by a
research establishment
(Harwell)
0 Simplifications made
0 Several configurations
considered
0 Unexpected occurred:
0 Hot gas remained in the
trench of the escalator
0 Flames burned parallel to
30º angle of the track
0 Thought to be impossible
0 Model was suspected to be
faulty
Root Causes
0 Scale replica of the
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escalator was built and lit
Flames performed as in
simulation
Situated themselves
parallel to the escalator
Heated wooden treads to
500-600ºC
Led to treads flashing
New phenomena now
known as the “trench
effect”
Ultimate Results
0 Buildup of grease and hair
allowed fire to ignite and
spread
0 Containment of escalator
guided flames like a trench,
causing overheating and
flashover
0 Smoke was clean until
reaching toxic ceiling paint
0 Particular combination of
circumstances led to the
trench effect
Ultimate Results
0 Why was this the first time a small fire flashed over?
0 Complete lack of attempt to put out the fire
0 Exact position of fire across width of escalator
0 Found to be conducive to trench effect
Ultimate Results
0 Damage from fire fixed
quickly
0 Ticket hall and platforms
for most lines opened next
day
0 Ticket halls for most
affected lines opened in
stages over next four weeks
0 Nobody was prosecuted for
this disaster
0 No justification for charges
Lessons Learned
0 26 recommendations made by DoT’s investigator
0 Wooden escalators replaced with all-steel ones
0 Smoking banned again
0 Sale of smoking materials in station banned
0 Installation of sprinklers and heat detectors in
escalators
0 Non-executive director of safety
0 Mandatory safety training for staff
0 Public telephones, radios, and televisions put in place
0 Paint restrictions
Lessons Learned
0 Only 8 out of 26 recommendations implemented four
years later
0 Cigarette butts still found on floors ten years later
Lessons Learned
0 Most important lesson:
0 Fluid flow phenomenon – Trench effect
0 Restrictions on escalator material help avoid
repeating set up for this phenomenon
References
0 [1] Fennel, Desmond. Investigation into the King’s Cross
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Underground Fire. The Department of Transport, November
1988, London.
[2] “Kings Cross Fire 1987 News Footage”
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sj21xNbNKBQ
[3] “King’s Cross fire”
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/King%27s_Cross_fire
[4] “Kings Cross Fire – London 2007 from the London Fire
Journal” http://www.firetactics.com/KINGSCROSS.htm
[5] “Safety fears linger, decade after Kings Cross fire”
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/31723.stm
[6] “BBC On This Day – 1987: King’s Cross station fire ‘kills 27’”
http://news.bbc.co.uk/onthisday/hi/dates/stories/november/1
8/newsid_2519000/2519675.stm
Questions?

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