In order to address the general lack of empirical data on liquid fuel spills, which present a potential fire hazard in numerous industrial and residential settings, this article reports on research conducted to characterize fuel spill fire dynamics regarding the key variables that potentially impact these types of fires.
Although the findings of two previous referenced studies on liquid fuel spills were significant in demonstrating a substantial decrease in the peak fire size achieved in spill fire scenarios compared to pool fires, the empirical data sets collected were not sufficient to fully understand the phenomena causing this reduction. In general, both studies attributed the decrease to thermal losses to the substrate but indicated that further investigation was required. A discussion of the current test results is presented in two parts. The first part addresses the development of a liquid spill, specifically spill depths and spill progression; and the second part discusses fuel burning dynamics, specifically the impacts of substrate, ignition delay, and substrate temperature. The development of a spill and the associated liquid depths are described for various fuels and fuel simulants, whose properties provide bounding spill scenarios for most fuels of interest. The burning dynamics of various fuel spill scenarios are evaluated relative to numerous substrates, ignition delay times ranging from 30 s to 300 s, and substrate temperatures ranging from 12°C to 38°C (54°F to 100°F). The impact of these variables was evaluated relative to the heat release and mass burning rates measured during these tests. 9 references (publisher abstract modified)