To develop a model to predict the carbon emissions from fires in the built environment

Lloyd, Stephen Thomas To develop a model to predict the carbon emissions from fires in the built environment. Masters thesis, University of Central Lancashire.

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The effects of Climate Change or Global Warming on our planet, but more directly on the human species has been long discussed and always controversial. This paper adds to that discussion in so far as it adds the Greenhouse Gas emissions from fires in our communities to the already accumulated data from most other activities and industries that affect our climate.
Whilst a lot of research has been carried out into Greenhouse Gases and their effects on the climate, and the potential economic and political consequences which inevitably creates controversy, only very limited research has been carried out on the effects of fires, in spite of the fact that Fire and Rescue Services in England dealt with 167 150 fires (1) in the year 2017/8, representing 30% of the total emergency calls, and that is only the number reported to, and attended by the Fire and Rescue Services.
The only reporting mechanism for the number and type of fires is by the Fire and Rescue crews attending them for the UK Government Statistics, using the Incident Recording System, a menu led tool that requires information about the type of incident and the amount of damage, as well as cause, location and method of extinguishment. Therefore, the model developed as a result of this work uses this data as the basis for the calculations. Whilst other ideas were considered at the beginning of this study it was clear from an early stage that the only data collection mechanism was and will continue to be the Incident Recording System, and the model had to complement that.
The effect of Carbon Dioxide as a Greenhouse Gas is considered pre-eminent of all of the Greenhouse Gases because of its abundance and longevity in the atmosphere. In 2013, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change issued a global climate assessment (2) in which they described Carbon Dioxide as the most influential human influenced climate driver. That is the rationale for this study to focus only on the Carbon Dioxide fraction of the smoke produced by fires.
The main conclusion of this work is to acknowledge that whilst fire has a devastating impact of people's lives and their communities, and that fires pollute the atmosphere locally as well as globally, such as Chernobyl in 1986, one of the most devastating example of this in living memory, the Australian bush fire in 2009 killing 180 and injuring around 500 people, the Kuwaiti oil fires after the Gulf War in 1991, the consequences of fire in terms of climate change, especially when compared to those other emitting activities and industries, might be regarded as negligible. In fact, the results of this study show that fires in the UK contribute approximately 140 000 tonnes of Carbon Dioxide emissions. To put that into context, the United States Geological Survey Volcano Hazards Programme estimates that the world’s volcanoes, both on land and undersea, generate 200 million tonnes annually (42), and the BBC recently reported global Carbon Dioxide emissions from wildfires were over 30 billion tonnes in 2017(44). Closer to home, charcoal fired barbeques in the UK potentially generate more than double the emissions from fires (43).
The study focused on fires that, between them, account for almost half of the totals attended by Fire and Rescue Services, especially those serving major metropolitan cities. It also considered two major fire incidents, the fuel storage depot at Buncefield, Hertfordshire, and a Refuse Derived Fuel storage fire in Salford, Greater Manchester, to demonstrate the adaptability of the model proposed. It does, however, acknowledge that the results of the study represent an order of magnitude result rather than an accurate reflection of the problem, because of the inherent assumptions and parameters used throughout the study, from data gathering to Carbon loading factors for the fires.
By calculating the Carbon content of those things involved in fires, whether they be wheelie bins, cars, domestic dwellings and even industrial facilities, this study has developed a model that can predict the Carbon Dioxide emissions using current data gathering systems.

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