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Apr 12, 2021

Welcome to episode 26 of Fire Code Tech. In this episode, we speak about fire modeling, performance-based design, and codes and standards in Poland. Our guest, Wojciech, is an Associate Professor and a Deputy Head of Fire Research Department at the Building Research Institute in Warsaw, Poland. We discuss Wojciech’s research specialties including visibility in smoke, smart smoke control systems and wind and fire coupled modeling.


How did you get started in fire science?

Would you speak more about your career and the different roles you have had at ITB?

Can you speak more about your commercial experience and how the research and commercial design interface?

Would you speak about your paper you wrote about the codes and standards process in different countries?

 What are your thoughts about performance-based design and how we can assure competency and consistency in modeling parameters?

Are there some projects you are working on now burning different configurations in the lab?



Hello, all welcome to the show. I'm Gus Gagliardi, and this is fire code tech on fire code tech. We interview fire protection professionals from all different careers and backgrounds in order to provide insight and a resource for those in the field. My goal is to help you become a more informed fire protection.

Professional fire code tech has interviews with engineers and researchers, fire marshals, and insurance professionals and highlights topics like codes and standards, engineering systems, professional development, and trending topics in the industry. So if you're someone who wants to know more about fire protection or the fascinating stories of those who are in the field, you're in the right place.

Welcome to episode 26 of fire code tech. In this episode, we have EK Roski. In this episode, we talked to EK about computational fluid dynamics codes and standards in Poland, as well as some of the unique applications of smoke control and how that it's way more common in Poland than it is in the United States.

If you're interested in fire science, this episode is for you. I really enjoyed talking to JE we've been connected for a while and trying to make this interview happen. And I'm super excited that I finally get to share it with the world. Wack has a litany of awards over the last five years and has been involved in over 25 peer reviewed papers.

What's fascinating is to me that on top of all these awards in this research that wo Jack's been involved with is he's coupled the commercial industry and how to actually, uh, design these systems and provide computational fluid dynamics to do the engineering study behind smoke control systems. I hope you enjoy this show with WOIC.

Don't forget to follow us on social media and subscribe. So you never miss an episode. Well, WOIC I just wanna thank you so much for coming on the podcast. Yeah. Thank you. Thank you for coming on the show. Thank you very much, girls. And we we've talked about this for a long time and I'm very happy that we, we finally can, can catch up and, and talk here.

Yeah, we made it. It's it's been, uh, I've been excited about this and excited to talk to you. So that's awesome. So thank you. I wanted to get, yeah. So I wanted to get started with, um, a little bit of background on how you got into fire science and you know, how this field started to interest you and kind of how you got in it.

Would you? Yeah, so like, like most of people probably, um, it was a little kind of accidental or, or I, when, when I was faced, uh, facing a choice of the school to go after my, my high school, uh, I picked, uh, some universities and the main school of fire service was one of them, uh, because I had some family connections with fire service and it seemed like a reasonable career.

And yeah, that, that was the one that I got into. And, uh, Once I got there, I, I really liked it. And, uh, few years later, I've, um, I found the, um, computational fluid modeling and, and, uh, modeling fires, which was absolutely fantastic. And, and something that, that really popped in my head and, and I absolutely loved, and I was thrilled to be able to actually represent fires in a computer.

So after finishing my, my university with a master's degree, I found this Institute in Universo that was very, very well known in, in Poland as one of the lead, um, companies that that does modeling. And in general, does. Fire science at the grade level. Uh, I've applied. I've been accepted and yeah, a decade later here, I am still in the same place and still, uh, thoroughly enjoying what I'm doing here, modeling fires and everything around that.

That's interesting to hear. Yeah. I have a similar story of stumbling in, uh, as I think a lot of people do in our industry stumbling into the field, but yeah, that's great. I, I would love to hear, yeah, you hear these stories all the time about people, uh, coming into industry by, by accident or, or just, uh, by random chance or switching from structural mechanical electrical engineers at, at some final years of the universities, which, which kind of is a pity because it's a such an amazing field of, of, of science and, and field of engineering that you can do.

And, uh, I highly doubts any other field of civil engineering that gives you such. Immense overview over the whole building process from conception to, to basically the end of the building. And you have to be familiar with almost every branch. There is of engineering because the decisions taken by these people are affecting fire.

And that's absolutely fascinating. And it's, it's difficult to get this message to young engineers that such a field of, of work exists. And it's fantastic to be a part of it. Yeah. I completely agree with you. It, it is such a great industry and yeah, it's interesting that point you just made of how wide the scope of, you know, fire safety and, and, um, engineer.

To, you know, make a more safe, uh, you know, built environment or just environment in general, if you want to go broader than the design and the built environment. But yeah, it's such a promising field. I always am just kind of blown away. How much of, uh, well kept secret it is and you know, how, how much, uh, the greater society kind of just, uh, is easy to, you know, not be aware of it your whole life.

If you don't know somebody who's in the. Right. Exactly. Ho hopefully it'll change eventually more and more universities are, are having this, um, fire engineering, at least as a course, uh, during masters or, or bachelors and, uh, more and more people are educated towards this. So yeah, it looks promising. I hope.

Yeah, I think so. I think that it's just in the such the incipient phase of, you know, Profession, uh, it's it's lifespan. I think it's just still an infancy. And so we are just lucky to be in, on, on the ground floor of a trade that has such promise, but yeah, it's pretty remarkable. I don't, I don't know how I got so lucky.

Uh, a lot of times I think that, uh, I stumbled into something so promising, but, uh, I wanted to get started with, uh, a little bit or, you know, just, I wanted to touch on a little bit more, the different roles you've held at, uh, sorry. You told me the building research Institute. Apologize. Yeah, I DB. Yeah. So, uh, yeah, I've joined us as, um, Modeler basically.

So I've joined the team of Mr. STBA. He was my, my supervisor and, and we've, uh, we've been doing some advanced CFD modeling of, of buildings of all kinds. And, uh, yeah, I basically was the person who was doing the models and, and running the calculations, making the reports. So let's say basic engineer work, um, after gathering some experience in, in small control, I've been more and more involved in, in consulting projects and helping designers design more, more advanced, uh, systems, better systems, uh, because in Poland, uh, the smoke control design is completely performance based.

So, so there's a, let's say a big market for. For such a consultancy. Yeah. So that was my, my few years. And after a few years, um, I figured out that I enjoyed this a lot and I started questioning some basic things that, that are obvious in the discipline. Like why those access symmetric, plume relations give such a large number of, of smoke flow volume or, or, or are we calculating the smoke temperatures correctly?

And, and I was absolutely curious about how you can calculate these things. I I've stumbled them upon many papers. Um, and I, I think the most influential was the, the, um, PhD of Roger Harrison and, and papers, but by Harrison and Spearpoint on, on a spiel plum design based on scale modeling, I, I was absolutely fascinated with that work.

And I thought to myself that, yeah, this is, um, If I'm involved in designing buildings, I would really love to like go further and research. Why are we designing like this? Not, not just follow blindly, the, the obligations set in, in, in the standards. So, so that's why in, in 2013, I have decided to pursue my PhD in five sec engineering.

And luckily to me was possible to, um, to do the PhD at my own at my own Institute, because ITB is, uh, is able to, to award PhDs. So yeah, if I've, uh, started my research on, on flows underneath, uh, projecting balconies and the influence of. Architecture of the building on, on the smoke clothes inside. And, uh, it was a fascinating journey.

We, we, we've done a lot of simulations, a lot of scale modeling, um, everything while working as a consultant and as a, as a commercial engineer. Uh, so it kind of took, took some time to, to catch up. And as I was progressing, my, my research, I was touching more and more subjects related to, um, fire safety of buildings, like growing my expertise, growing my.

My interests, uh, into something like more, more holistic, uh, and building the knowledge that I have today, building up, uh, new fields of research, touching new projects, uh, doing exciting collaborations. And then it just snowballed with, with so many fascinating research projects I've met. So, so many great people who are fundamental to the end, to the scientific, uh, growth of our discipline.

And I was, I was really lucky to be exposed to them and, and learn so much from them. And today, this many years later, I'm. Now, mostly I'm a researcher. I, I still do modeling. I still do consultancy. And it's, it's difficult to split your time in a half between, um, this type commercial type of work and, and the research.

And I love both. Definitely. And, and my, my commercial work affects my consultants, my research, my research affects my consultancy. So, so I, I believe it's a perfect combination, uh, for, for an engineer to, to have. And yes, I, I enjoy it as much as on the first day. Wow. That's fascinating. I love hearing about how you have had the ability to not only have the functional knowledge of how to, you know, do modeling for the, you know, buildings that are in construction.

and use that functional application to design buildings, but you've also had the opportunity to, you know, chase your passions and dive into research. I would love to hear more about, uh, you know, a little bit O on the, uh, how you interface with, you know, the commercial construction, because, uh, I, maybe this instance happens in the us and I'm just not aware of it, this kind of coupling with the commercial, uh, business and, you know, research.

I'm sure it does that. I'm just not as ingrained in this field, but yeah, I'm fascinated by that. How does that, how does that kind of work, you know, do you work in with, uh, do you work with consultants or I just, uh, I'm intrigued by that. Yeah. So, so basically, um, we, uh, are as consultants, we, we try to be specialized, uh, company or, well, my group is a specialized group that does the CD modeling and helps designer design, better smoke control systems.

We, we do not do the mechanical designs. We do not do building designs. Um, when we get hired, our, our goal is either to verify the solution as presented by the designers. And then we get into the CFD modeling or. Be exposed to an preexisting design and, and help improve that design, um, with, with our knowledge.

So, so the role is, is rather specialized and, and, um, we, we really like it like this. We, we're not interested in, in growing the package into like a full design, uh, from, from scratch to a, to a project with Samsung. And, and then that you can send to the, uh, authorities, uh, we, we were not that type of company.

We are here to, to, to, to give, give the clients very, very specialized advice based on our experience. And that also means the types of the buildings we are involved in is kind of, of specific. We currently are involved mainly in road tunnels and, and, and railway tunnels, um, because there's a lot of.

Ongoing tunneling projects in, in Poland, we get involved in all types of like underground, uh, railway stations, stadiums, uh, skyscrapers, large shopping malls, basically the, the, the largest developments you can find in, in our country, but also in, in Europe. And, um, yeah, that, that's a, that's quite nice because we get to work on the most challenging projects.

And again, the, the scope that we are covering as the consultancy is, is, is fairly limited to the, to the smoke control and Oxy systems that will work with the smoke control. So, uh, it's manageable for the team to, to actually give that advice, um, for, for such a huge projects that usually require hundreds of engineers to, to, to completely pull off.

And then we are proud to take an important part in the development of these projects and for the research, um, That's like a second lag that we're standing on. Um, as the, as the Institute, the Institute is, um, is, uh, partially funded by the ministry of, of science and higher education in Poland. So there is, um, there are some money for research and given to the ITB every year.

So we compete for this, uh, internally with, with other research teams at ITB. Uh, we, we propose, uh, what areas of research are, are the most interesting to pursue. We design the experiments and if they get funded, we, we get to do them, uh, And the ethics are obviously papers, conference, materials, books, and stuff like that.

And we also compete for like external grants in like the grant agency of Poland, Europe. Uh, that one is a bit tougher because the competition is much bigger and, um, Sometimes you can, you are feeling like it's more, a random chance rather than a real review of the project contents and, uh, it's kind of awkward system.

Um, but yeah, we'll, that's the system, so we play it and, uh, we hope for this funding. We, we have just received a very, very large, uh, grant for wind and fire, coupled modeling. So I'm super excited to, to have this, uh, to have the funds, to, to continue this research research for the next two years. And, uh, in the end.

Yeah. It's like, um, it's 50, 50 some, some months there's more, more research, less commercial work. Some months are just full of commercial work and you just have to balance it out somehow. Well, I feel like you get the best of both worlds. The fact that you get to split your experience in these two, uh, vastly different fields.

I mean, some of the same tenants in. Fundamental building blocks, but to completely different fields, really. And, and guys, I, I, I often say that we do a selfish kind of science because, uh, the projects we are researching are usually the ones, uh, that. Means something in our consultancy, like there are wide fields with no data available, for example, or there are models that we know that are not the most efficient ones.

There are, um, magic numbers that we ha cannot track the origin of. And we are unable to, to engineer around them because it's it's number. And you have no idea how to, what will happen if you alter it, for example. So, um, these, uh, these, these practical problems, when we meet when doing the consultancy are absolutely affecting our science and in a way that are drivers for, for the new research ideas we have.

So. It's, it's not only like, uh, taking the, both of the, of the worlds, but in a way, crushing them against each other and, and, uh, yeah, using science, uh, to improve the engineering and, and using engineering to, um, to do meaningful science. I think that that's pretty cool. Wow. That's really exciting and fascinating.

I mean, I don't think that's selfish at all, wanting to, you know, I think that sometimes research or education can get disjointed from the real world or, you know, solving these technical problems. So I don't know. That's it sounds. Exactly. What I would be interested in is taking these, uh, complex research topics and sharpening them to a point to, you know, uh, help us be competitive, uh, commercially or, you know, just make the science more stress tested and, and viable for everybody involved.

So I, I would absolutely, I would absolutely recommend to any like CEO or a person in the position to drive a larger fire engineering company to invest some time and your best people into research, because you'll be absolutely amazed what they come up with and how greatly that can affect the business aspect of, of, of being a commercial company.

I, I, I believe that, um, it's really beneficial for engineer to look on a problem with an eyes of a scientist and be like completely, Hmm. Free to research the answer, um, to find the, to find the answer and again, be, um, Look, look through the problem to the problem through the, um, scientific method, like without, uh, without, uh, predicting what will happen, but measuring what will happen, um, testing your hypothesis, doing, doing like your real research and what you receive in the research.

That's, that's an outcome and you have to work with it. You cannot guess it. You cannot like make it up. And, uh, then you're faced with some intriguing problems. Maybe you can find out that some, that no one ever has found, and maybe you can figure out that a method we use for all the time we've used in the wrong way.

And I think that it's beautiful and it is, uh, if you do that, you not only improve your own quality of, of your consultancy, but you can make the, the whole discipline better and, and help every other engineer progress towards, uh, towards the truth. Yeah, that's awesome. I love that sentiment. Yeah. I think that large companies who are interested in doing business the most competitive way possible are interested in, in research.

And, you know, as a, as someone who works in the company who is interested in, uh, innovative technology and automation and, you know, some of these advanced BIM techniques, I see that, uh, in the future, I don't know how, uh, people will stay competitive at, at a large scale without investing in some of these endeavors.

But yeah, I think that's all great points OIC, and I just wanted to kind of proceed in our discussion of, you know, the built environment and, you know, some of your career experiments with, or, I mean, uh, experiences with, you know, I. Originally, when we were first talking, you had a, a paper that you sent me that you were a part of that went over some of the, the nuances and differences between like the us and some different, uh, building codes and for different nations.

And I'd love to hear some insight from, you know, what you see as the, the contrasts or similarities from, you know, how the building codes and standards work in Poland. And then, you know, um, obviously how they, uh, stack up to other nations. You're probably referring to that, to the philosophy paper. I've, I've sent that to you because, um, we've just met and you wanted to learn who I was and that paper probably, um, summarizes me as a person quite well, because it was, it was at a very particular time in my career where I, I just took, uh, some time off and, and just summarized everything done so far and then made some directions for the future.

And the, the paper was in a way an outcome of this, of this process. So I, I, I really like that, that paper, um, it's, uh, very focused on the Polish system and Polish system is, is, is rather complex. One in terms of, of how the, how it's built. We are obviously in the European framework, which defines a lot of things, but then we have our own building code, which, um, Rules how, how the building should be built.

We have a separate fire safety code, which, um, Which defines the, the principles of operations of buildings in terms to their fire safety. And that spans over all, all of the buildings, not only the ones that are just being built, but by, but all of them. So, so there are many overlapping, uh, lows and, uh, it it's good.

Funny because, um, for example, the, the whole building code in Poland is prescriptive to the bone. It's it just defines you what you need to have in your buildings. Like you, it defines everything distances with lengths of evacuation roots, the classes of your walls, uh, the type of your ceiling, literally everything.

And then in the same. You have one paragraph that says that smoke control systems should provide tenable condition on the evacuation roots within the safe evacuation time. And that's the most, uh, performance based way to define a system you can have within the same law. So, so it's kind of, um, full of contradictions and, um, and sometimes it's quite difficult to go through, but, um, with the, with having this code, we could observe how Polish environment changed, how, um, such aspects as smoke control.

And use of advanced modeling in, in the, in the design of smoke control that literally exploded it's. I would put a claim that we have some of the most advanced engineered systems for, for smoke removal in the world. Like truly every single building that's bigger than a, a house for a family. Every single building is going through some sort of modeling and advanced methods are used to, to, to design the systems in that building, uh, to meet that accountability criteria.

So, so I, I think that's quite unique because as I talk with colleagues from other parts of the world, it's not that common OB, obviously the, the, the advanced models are used, but not for every single project there is. Um, so that's outstanding. On the other hand, we, we have some. Ridiculous requirements in terms of, for example, fire resistance of walls, to give you an example, if you build a, a skyscraper that's taller than 55 meters, your walls should be, uh, for our fire resistant glass, which it's, which is kind of ridiculous requirement.

If you, if you know, uh, how fire resistant works and what's behind it. And, uh, how can the fire develop in an office? So, so, so probably there is no need for, for, for hour of the resistance. You could most likely provide the same amount of safety with two or three hour walls and, and, and pump up some other active systems to compensate for that.

And you would most likely end up with a, with a much safer system and building. So, um, in that paper, what we wanted to do with, with Dr. Soak Micor is we wanted to. Like summarize everything that's happening around the, the fundamental requirements of the European law re in regards to safety, because that's the one that tells you what the building should do in, in, in case of the fire that they should protect lives, that you should have, uh, evacuation, the fire should not spread and so on and so on.

So we wanted to summarize briefly what's happening in this areas in, in one paper that you could give to a civil engineer or architect or, or someone who's not a fire engineer. And they would immediately have an overview how, how this, uh, systems are connected to each other. Because, um, the thought that we have was that there are so many, um, decisions made by non-fire professionals that are fundamental to the fire safety of the building.

It's. It makes no sense that these people do not have even the basic knowledge of the fire safety concepts. They, there is no way they can visit the consequences of their decisions, which often can be profound, especially when we are talking about architecture of the building, the way, the way, how, how the building is shaped inside.

And, um, yeah, what we wanted to do with that, um, was to give, uh, nice introduction to non non-fire specialists on, on, on how complex the fire safety is and how many aspects play together. And now if, if you compare that to, um, all the law systems, it it's difficult to me to, to, to do a comparison because obviously I'm, I'm based in Poland.

And I, I, I am not an expert in, in the law of other countries, but. As we discussed this with colleagues from, from SF P Europe. Um, and we often have these, these types of discussions, every country has it has, has its own flavors and every country is, is fixated on, on something. Um, but, um, it seems that, that it still mostly prescriptive based everywhere is very rare that, um, a whole country would, would introduce fully performance based engineering into their projects.

I I'm aware of only a few countries that, that have that. And, um, I'm not even sure if that's, um, that's possible in countries like, like, like mine, like Poland to, to have it fully performance based. Um, engineered not that it's something that, um, that's wrong, that, that I would not cherish. I would love to have the possibility to, um, design the buildings to the best of my knowledge and experience.

It's just that I'm kind of afraid what others would do with this powerful, uh, tool. And there, there are risks involved, obviously with, with, with allowing people to do performance based engineering. And until we figure out the how to distinguish a good engineer from a bad engineer, how to measure competencies, how to prove competencies, um, it may be, um, unvisible to, to go fully performance based.

It's a difficult discussion. Yeah, definitely. Yeah. I don't know. Uh, You know, the us is heavily prescriptive. Um, I would say, uh, much more so even than, uh, your description of, of Poland, um, as far as like in, uh, several hundred projects that I've been a part of in my, my five year career, I've not once had a design that was performance based.

So if that gives you any idea and wow, you know, what, as far as another thing you touched on that really kind of blew me away was the smoke control. Um, you know, you touched on earlier how most, the projects you're involved with, you know, these are all common facilities that we would see smoke control in the us.

Highrise buildings, ATR, you know, buildings with atriums, arenas, stadiums, uh, you know, tunnels. Uh, I don't deal with the construction of tunnels, but I can see easily how the tenability of these spaces would have, um, exceptional concern. Uh, so deep, underground buildings, you know, there are a set list of places where smoke control is required in the us.

And, um, You know, there's a, not a huge variety of these buildings, especially not in a state like Oklahoma, where I'm from is very sprawling geographically. And so there are not as many high-rise buildings, so it's even less so even fewer of these systems. So I was kind of blown away when you said that the smoke control systems were, or, you know, smoke control analysis and, and ventilation, uh, you know, and CFD was used on, uh, Uh, sounded like the majority of buildings.

I was just really kind of blown away. I, I I'm, I would be surprised if it was not used in, in, in a, in a bigger project. Like EV every single car park goes through CD modeling. Every staircase that's larger than let's say five, uh, floors is going to CD modeling. Every single H that requires smoke control will go through a CFD modeling.

Every tunnel will go through a hell of CFD modeling because these projects are very, very, they, they have huge requirements in terms of quality of the system you deliver at them. So, um, yeah, it's not even majority, I would say it's like almost all of them literal. that is wild. Yeah. And then another thing you said that that blew me away was the four hour wall and how that's for the exterior of the building.

That is a extremely significant, uh, fire resistant, re fire resistant requirement for the exterior of a building. You know, generally, uh, it's a very, uh, few cases with, you know, extremely dangerous hazardous materials in which we would require a four hour rated wall for that case. It's even, it even becomes more ridiculous when you look at it, uh, through the eyes of the scientist, because if you just consider a.

Compartment thermodynamic system that, that you have a fire in it. And it's a small compartment. Um, the amount of fuel in a typical office load. Even if you count off the sprinklers that let's say the sprinklers don't work and you just have that compartment, the, the fuel in it will most likely burn out within one hour, maybe 90 minutes after the fire started.

So that's the maximum fire duration of, of a fully fledged fire you could expect in, in a compartment. Obviously it's just a number. You can calculate that, but, but that, that's how it would end up in most of the cases. And if you have a very large open plan, Uh, compartment. Um, then it's also unlikely you'll have the, the, the exposure in one place for this many hours.

Um, I'm not sure if you're, if you know the traveling fire methodology, but it, it was developed in England, uh, sometime ago. And it's fascinating new way to design, uh, a structural fire resistance. Uh, but in principle, it, it, it, it means that fires. In a large open plan settings will be moving through the, through the compartment as, as, as the fuel is being eaten by the flames.

And you will either end up with, uh, low energy fire that lasts for a very long time. But then your temperatures are not that high, uh, or you will end up with a very, very large fire, but it will burn through the fuel very quickly within 20, 30, 40 minutes. So you end up with very, very aggressive fire, but the short one, and literally it, it's not possible to find a physical explanation of the fire in office setting that would, um, create as honors conditions as the standard fire for such long time.

And. Basically it's unphysical, it's, it's, it's, uh, almost impossible to happen in, in, in the modern building. And yet it's a, is a requirement of the law. This is why, um, looking, uh, through the fire science on these things is, is so valuable because I, I would never know. I would just obey to this, uh, requirement and then let's go, let's go deeper.

What does, what's the consequence of, of this requirement? It obviously means you have to have the walls much thicker. You possibly might have to use additional fire protection of these walls, which you would normally not use. Um, there's a very good chance. You will have to increase the rebar depth in your concrete to protect the structural steel from the fires leading into much bigger, uh, You would need purely from the structural, uh, resilience of the building.

And that adds to the wave of the building. So suddenly because your, your building is, is waiving more, you add more strain to the fundamentals. You probably require even more material in the bottom part of the building, making it even more heavy. Uh, and we had this project where the building was, um, going slightly above an underground, uh, subway system.

And we've reached the, the bottom line of the structural design of the building, where it was not possible to add anymore weight to the, to the building, because otherwise it would, uh, affect the subway system in a way that it was not allowed to. So you could not increase, uh, the weight of the building by an ounce.

It was just, just the maximum. And yet to add the fire protection, you would have to. So we we've went, uh, quite length, uh, to, to prove that, um, the building actually does require this, this fire resistance. And it is very safe as, as, as designed, uh, thankfully in Polish system, we have this delegation procedure where you can ask the ministry to, um, allow you to fulfill a, uh, a function, a requirement that's prescriptive in, in a different way that you propose and you propose a countermeasures for that.

And, and it was accepted and that the building is, is now being constructed. But if you just obey the law in the end, you would not be able to build the building. So, so that's like quite ridiculous. If you go purely poorly, uh, pres. Yeah. Wow. That's a, that's a fabulous illustration of an instance in which a variance from what the building code prescribes and what, uh, you know, you can show through, uh, performance based design and, you know, science rooted in reality, uh, what you can really do with the toolkit of, you know, being able to, to lean on performance based design.

That's pretty wild. Yeah. I'm, I'm super, super interested about your discussion of, you know, the, how you can either have, uh, a fire reaches flashover and kind of its peak heat release rate, which is probably the more common occurrence in today's society and how, you know, it'll basically starve itself out and, you know, not be able to last for this.

This four hour wall, like, yeah, that makes so much intuitive sense when you say that, but I've never thought of that. Uh, so since it's such a rare occurrence, uh, I've only ever seen like a four hour wall in construction in the us, like, uh, maybe like once or twice as a firewall is, you know, providing total building separation between two facilities.

but, mm. Yeah, I think that's FA that's fascinating. Yeah, it is. And then that's just one of the requirements and there are, there are many like, like this, uh, where if you crush them with, with physics, with, with, uh, way how fires work way, how, uh, how buildings work you end up with with requirements that do not make sense.

For example, the root of the, of the CFD in Poland, on of smoke control systems. And that's actually quite, quite funny story because, um, in, in early two thousands, we had a low that said that, um, in a smoke control system, you have to, um, place your exhaust, um, grills. Not, uh, further away than 10 meters from each other.

There was this, this, this one clause in the code that said that the maximum distance between the exhaust points is 10 meters. And, um, suddenly at some point the jet fan systems were. Introduced into to Polish market and jet fund system is a system for car parks, where instead of having an array of, of ducts in your car park that remove the smoke from underneath the ceiling, you use a bunch of, of, of horizontal blowing funds to move the smoke horizontally to a single exhaust point located somewhere in the car pack.

So it's a different philosophy. And, uh, the obvious benefit is that, um, you don't deduct at that point, the ducts were made with, uh, with fireproof bolts because there were no, um, steel ducts load on the market that would have that required certificates. So the ducks were very, very expensive, uh, to be built.

And then the jet people came and said that you don't need the ducks. You can just put this, this fence and you need the ceiling and it will work out. And then they were crushed with the law because the law said, you need to have grills 10 meters from each other. And you obviously cannot do that when you don't have ducks and grills.

Right? So these people were facing very, um, very big problem because in principle, their system was illegal. So they've, um, started doing this CD modeling to show that the systems are safe and that they can provide, um, expected conditions within the car park. As the system works, that's one thing. And then they were using this irrigation procedure to, um, ban the, the, that clause of the law for their project.

And, uh, they were getting approval that, okay, for this project, you don't have to meet this requirement of the, of the, um, of the grills. You can instead use CFD modeling to prove that the jet fund system is used instead and it's safe. And because it was at that point, it was such a big, uh, money saving for the investors to replace a traditional system with the jet fund system.

I assume there was dozens, if not hundreds of this, um, irrigation. Procedures floating the office of the, of the authorities. And at some point they, they most likely, um, figured out that it makes no sense to, to give a delegation for every single building they meet it's they, they just put, uh, the staple, um, uh, clause of the delegation into the law, which was this, uh, performance based clause that I dimension before that the system shall provide conditions on equation root within the safe equation time.

And with this suddenly the jet one systems became legal and, uh, the, the be we are benefactor of that because suddenly the performance based engineering was kind of, uh, maybe I maybe even accidentally allowed for all smoke control projects. So it all started with a ridiculous requirement of the, of the grills being so close to each other and a system that could not ever meet it because it didn't have grills.

And, uh, a scientific view on the problem, because you could prove with experiments and simulations that even though you don't have grills, you still, um, have a working system for your car park. And that led to the, to the big change in the low maybe, uh, similar stories will lead to changes in, in different clauses of the law.

Uh, in the future. I, I would actually quite like that if, if that happened. Um, but yeah, moving into a full. Full performance basis. As I mentioned, there's a different discussion and much more difficult problem. Yeah. Yeah. I totally agree. It's uh, I don't know. I don't know how that would work. Uh, I would be happy in the us if just, you know, uh, the authorities were more knowledgeable about performance based design as an option.

I'm sure there are many cities and entire states that, uh, have never seen these designs are very rarely seen this even as an option. So, uh, I hear, you know, other parts of the world and how frequently that, uh, performance best design is, is used. I, I think of that as something to aspire for, let alone total, uh, you know, all of everything being, having the ability to be performance based, but I think it's an interesting issue.

You raise about, you know, how. We need some way to verify competencies and, you know, modeling parameters and, and these sort of things. It's, it's always, uh, seemed to me as an outsider looking in that, uh, there's, it's such an art to be able to model a fire. I don't, I don't know if you have, uh, some more thoughts about that and for, you know, for the audience and for my curiosities.

Yeah. Well, it's, um, it's definitely a difficult subject. The field is full of magic numbers that, that are flying around and are being used by by engineers and then CFD engineers. Um, in our case, the car, the car parks are a really good example, for example, for Poland, because, um, they were the first ones to be modeled on, on such a massive scale.

And, um, in, in a car park, um, besides your ventilation parameters, obviously the thing that will drive the, the outcome is the, the way how you model the fire. Obviously as the, the hit rate, that's the factor of your fire. That's your hit of combustion of the, of the car. And, um, It also shows the dark side of this performance based engineering because as these projects were, were commonly modeled with, with computers and, uh, accepted based on a computer, on the results of computer modeling, we have also observed the trend that some of the companies, uh, to win a contract over a competitor where for example, using a smaller fire to, to, because it's, there is no act of load that says that your fire in a car park shall be this value.

Now it's, it's, it's all like engineering judgment. And, uh, there are resources that you can base, um, base your, uh, your, your engineering judgment on. But, uh, I, I know resources that, that say it should be like 15 mega megawatts. If you go into work of JOA from France and there are. Papers that that say it can be like two megawatts if you go to like, uh, alt Brunk experiments in, in Germany.

So, um, who is there to say, which experiment is, is, is more real than the other ones. So, so it's kind of difficult to choose between them and it, it was. Kind of nasty when the competition on the market started, not on the quality of systems delivered, but on the boundary conditions of the simulations that prove that the systems work, because if you are a designer and let's say you design your system to withstand eight megawatt fire in a car park, and I'm your competitor.

And I design mine for four megawatts, there's a great chance that mine will be much cheaper than yours because I will use less fans. My fans will have different temperature, ratings and so on. And, um, that's a very bad incentive to give. And, you know, uh, money is king on the market, especially on, on, on cheaper projects, like residential developments where.

You have to force 200 people to pay for 200 flats and include the price of the, of the structure built, uh, into their, uh, square meter price, uh, of, of the building. So, uh, you want to have the whole process as cheap as possible, and if you can ha save, uh, $1 million on, on your systems, then you would be very happy to do that.

If you costed you just a simulation and the fires do not happen, right. So why would you care that much? And, um, in actually in 2015, or maybe even, maybe even earlier, we, we, we have noticed this trend in, in, in Copak fires and what we have decided, um, with, with my colleague KKI was to write a book on how to design car park, um, ventilation systems.

And in that book, we took a, a very brave, um, move to explain in great detail. How are we modeling the car parks? Uh, we gave like flat out what are the boundary conditions we use in the simulations? What is the fire that we use in the simulations? What's the suit yield? What is the heat of combustion? Uh, exactly the values that we are using in our common work that have not been changed since I, I believe 2005, we we've never, we've never, um, made them smaller because of a need of a project.

And we gave it to the market and it was not that we say, okay, from today, the ITB says, you should, you should use this numbers. What we did is we went to many, like dozens of conferences and we. Clearly explain the people, the differences that change of these parameters make. If we say that you should use, for example, four megawatt fire to simulate a single burning.

If you use two megawatt fire that is half of the smoke being released into the car park, that's something that, that layman can understand. And then it's like, uh, shines a bright light in their mind. If they see a simulation of, of, on the health heat release rate and they, they can then understand that the system is smaller, not because it's magically better, but because the, the simulation used to, to, to confirm it was, was done on a difficult assumptions and the same for the suit yield.

If you. Decrease the suit yield twice. You release half of the smoke into the car park. If you increase the heat of combustion twice, you decrease the amount of suit, uh, released to the car park by factor of two. Again, if you do all of the, these three things together, you release eight times less smoke into the car park.

And then it's very difficult to say that those two simulations are showing the exact same case and can be used to compare the systems proposed by different offices. So when we have, uh, flat out shown how it's being modeled and how this, uh, small, small choices of the, the, of the CFD engineer altered the results and the outcome of the CFD more and more, um, offices were, um, Were aware of the, of the issue.

And they were able to distinguish the, the two differences between systems, because they immediately knew that if someone approaches them with an offer, that they can make system significantly cheaper and then shows them simulation on, on like eight fold, less amount of smoke, they, they immediately realized that, okay, can you repeat, repeat the simulation with this kind of assumptions?

And then usually that office backed off. So in terms of, of, of car park, uh, fi of car park design, we, we somehow put a stop to this, um, to this practice with, uh, with showing the design scenarios. And if you ask people, um, who are professionally dealing with performance based design, This actually is something they do not really like because, um, the performance based design assumes a, a freedom of judgment for an engineer.

You are the engineer who can determine the hazard, who can determine the applicable scenarios, the tools to be used, the criteria to be, um, used in the assessment. And then the better mind if the outcome of your study is correct or not, that's performance based engineering. And then if you prescribe. Part of this, of this, uh, process like prescribe the hit release rate of, of your design fire.

You are kind of limiting this ability to, to engineer within the performance based engineering. So it's, it's putting some boundaries on it, which, um, for the most creative and competent engineers are not needed. But then again, there's the other part of the market, for which giving them a complete freedom is as dangerous as not having, uh, PBD at all.

So, um, Yeah, it's um, it's good to share the knowledge on, on how, how stuff like CFD modeling is being done. It's good to openly discuss it. It's very good to present this knowledge to other stakeholders in your process, um, who are not necessarily CFD experts, because there's not many C of the experts to be honest, uh, but show it in a way that, that, that, that they could understand how these small changes in the most critical parameters affect the outcome.

And if these people get educated, um, the work of all of us becomes easier because, um, you stop competing with, uh, with, uh, fraudulent. Engineers who, who would rather cut the fire in a half and win a contract, then, then design it properly and not win it. Yeah. I mean, I'm, I'm not, I don't know if it's a big issue in, in the us, but Poland in early 2000 tens.

Uh, and I was early this century. It was an issue and, and we came up out of this and today's, it's quite nice. I would say. Yeah, I think that there is probably, uh, since it's so not common, I would imagine that, you know, there's groups like society for fire protection engineers, that's, you know, working on trying to set some of these minimum parameters if you will.

But yeah, I think it's, uh, not a situation that's isolated to Poland. I imagined it's, you know, something that can be found all around the world. That, uh, this, this thing where people are not, um, even if it's, you know, if you extrapolate that outside of just CFD, I mean, and fire and life safety in general, you can find those who have chosen to not, you know, take the best case engineering judgment and provide the equivalent, um, you know, product or ability to protect fire and life safety.

So I think that, uh, this is a trend in the, in the industry at large that, uh, this, this minimum competencies and the, you know, this value that we all find acceptable as, as true for, you know, equivalent life safety measures. But yeah, I really enjoyed that. Um, I just wanted to ask about what, what projects are or pieces of, um, research or.

Or projects or research things. Are you working on now? I saw some, some pictures on your Twitter of some looked like some interesting, uh, things being constructed and you're looked like they were going to be burned. So I, I feel like I'd be, uh, I'd be kicking myself if I didn't get a chance to ask you about what you're working on now.

Yeah, we, we, we have a fire laboratory. There's always something being burned. That's the beauty of this, of this job. Um, currently we are, uh, the, the things that you refer to are most likely the, um, SDA S I, um, timber in fire project, which, um, there's an Alliance of timber manufacturers in Europe who wish to investigate, um, how exposed timber can change the, the compartment fire dynamics in, in a, in a very short way to say that.

So, so it's a RG on, on timber behavior in fire, in compartment, fire scenarios, which, which will be absolutely fantastic. And, and I'm really excited for this project, but that, that there's a lot of ongoing research at ITB, um, for the starter. I I'm just, I just start with the large wind and fire grant where we will.

Use risk based approach to quantify the wind effects on, on, on building fires and to what outcome, to, to what, um, to what level the, the wind affects the outcomes of fires. And what's unique in this research is that I, I'm not truly looking into the, the strongest winds or most honors wins. I'm looking into, uh, probabilistic distribution of winds on, on buildings.

And I'm actually interested in interested in the moderate winds and the ones that are most common. And yeah, we want to quantify what's the, what's the risk of, of both with wind and fire exposure at the same time. So I think this will, I, I think this will answer a lot of questions regarding to what extent to wind changes the outcomes of compartment fires and.

When should we put additional effort to model wind? Because modeling wind is, is a huge challenge. And, uh, yeah, we, we we've landed before that, that it's not in simple task to, to include wind in your analysis. Um, a second project that's that's really, really interesting is. Is the facade project with Imperial college London.

That's ongoing research with Dr. Bonner and professor Gamarra and then other students from CHEI and Benjamin co. Um, we are burning a bunch of, of medium sized facades with a Polish method to figure out how changes in materials impact the, um, outcomes of the fires, uh, to quantify the effects of the cavity.

Uh, Francesca is doing, uh, numerical modeling of, of failure of, of mechanical failure of facades. So that's also super exciting. So in general, that field of, of, um, of fire science is super, super interesting and, and, uh, very exciting to work on. Um, we're also researching smoke, uh, in corridors, we were building a large corridor facility to simulate, um, compartment fires with, uh, smoke exposure to.

Characters and yeah, we're doing much, much more. It's like, , you would be surprised how much parallel research projects are happening now. And all of them are, are exciting. These three are just, uh, the best ones for sure. Wow. That's awesome. Well, WOIC, I wanna thank you so much for coming on the show. I would love to proceed down the, some of the past of your research.

I feel like the win one is a whole podcast in itself. Oh, I know we didn't get into that. I really want, I want to talk to you about that and your ideas since I know it's near and dear to your heart. But, uh, we'll have to have you on again. And, uh, yeah, that's a lot of fun that that's, I hope that's a promise when we have the first results of the project.

I, I, I guarantee you'll be the first one to hear that we have a breakthrough and I will be, I would love to share it with your, with your audience then. That's awesome. Thanks for listening everybody. Be sure to share the episode with a friend, if you enjoyed it, don't forget that fire protection and life safety is serious business.

The views and opinions expressed on this podcast are by no means a professional consultation or a codes and standards interpretation. Be sure to contact a licensed professional. If you are getting involved with fire protection and or life safety. Thanks again. And we'll see you next time.