Extinguishing smouldering fires in silos: BRANDFORSK project 745-961

Maarit Tuomisaari, Djebar Baroudi, Risto Latva

Research output: Book/ReportReport

4 Citations (Scopus)


Combustible, porous materials may self-ignite during their storage time in silos as a result of internal heating. The self-ignition process may be slow, and it results in smouldering fires that are extremely difficult to extinguish. Suitable means to fight the smouldering fire were studied both theoretically and experimentally. General heat and mass transfer equations for porous media subject to fires and suppression were written. The equations together with dimensional analysis revealed critical parameters, like the grain size and moisture content, affecting the combustion and suppression process, but they also revealed the complexity of the problem. Experimental results of over 50 tests with varying combustibles and suppression agents were used as the basis for proposed qualitative guidelines on how to fight a smouldering silo fire. Among the potential gaseous agents, CO2 was found to be the most efficient one. Low expansion foam was also found to be a potential candidate, but its applicability requires further confirmation. Quantifying the guidelines requires a whole new study on the detection of a smouldering fire. The same detection system should be capable of monitoring the suppression process and - most importantly - verifying the extinguishment.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationEspoo
PublisherVTT Technical Research Centre of Finland
Number of pages74
ISBN (Electronic)951-38-5220-2
ISBN (Print)951-38-5219-9
Publication statusPublished - 1998
MoE publication typeNot Eligible

Publication series

SeriesVTT Publications


  • fires
  • silos
  • self ignition
  • smouldering fires
  • extinguishing
  • fire fighting


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