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  • Rights: The University of Waikato
    Published 3 November 2009 Referencing Hub media

    In this video clip, Dr Mike Spearpoint from the University of Canterbury describes how computer modelling is used to predict what might happen in a fire.

    Points of interests

    • What do fire scientists use computer models for?
    • Why do they use computer models?


    Computational modelling is a way of us predicting what might happen in a fire in terms of how a fire might develop, how smoke might flow round a building, how the building components may heat up, the structure of the building, and we might also use computational models to look at how people move round the building.

    If we are looking at doing a design of a building, it can be very difficult and very expensive to do field experiments to go and burn a building, so we might be looking at doing models so we can predict what might happen, and we can look at ‘what if?’ What if we change the design? What happens if the fire was in a different place in the building? The models allow us to do that without having to do the real experiments. Partly about money, partly about practicality, partly about safety – if we are wanting to look at models of how people might behave in a fire, then we don't again want to expose real people to real fire, because that’s dangerous, so there’s also a safety aspect to that as well.

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