January 5, 2016

Fighting Fire with FireFOAM

Stacking commodities on wood pallets (left image) slows horizontal
fire spread, versus absence of pallets (right image).

(January 5, 2015)  Insurance company FM Global uses Titan to simulate warehouse fires in unparalleled resolution

Roughly 40 percent of all industrial property loss in the United States comes from fire, and fire is the leading cause of commercial property damage. For insurance companies, understanding how fires spread can help save their industrial clients from massive property and business interruption losses, ultimately saving both insurer and insured millions of dollars. Businesses with large warehouses are at particular risk, because as storage warehouses get bigger, providing adequate protection using traditional ceiling-mounted sprinkler systems is becoming more challenging.

FM Global is one of the world’s largest commercial and industrial insurance companies. Providing insurance to one in three Fortune 1000 companies, FM Global attributes its success to offering not only comprehensive property insurance products but also world-class loss prevention research and engineering services that help clients better understand steps they can take to prevent fires and minimize loss if a fire does start. However, for FM Global research scientist Yi Wang, fire suppression research affects far more than his business’s bottom line.

“The goal of our research is to make protection standards and solutions better,” Wang said. “We believe that the majority of property loss is preventable. We develop solutions to prevent losses, share these solutions, and promote improvement of protection standards.” Some of these solutions Wang described came from research performed on the Titan supercomputer at the Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility (OLCF), a US Department of Energy Office of Science User Facility located at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

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