a reply to: Krakatoa
Despite really wanting to abstain from this discussion, due to generalizations and innaccuracies, and misunderstandings, Ill field this one, briefly,
and any other specific questions I am familiar with that anyone wouldnlike to ask me. I have owned and operated multiple fire protection companies,
have been a union trained fire sprinkler technician, and am a member in good standing (until i let it lapse, whenever it runs out,Im in a different
industry now) of the National Fire Protection Association.
There are 3 requirement for a fire. Fuel, oxygen and an ignition source. Everything is combustible, nothing is fire proof. The simple answer, is
no, there is no substance that REQUIRES an accelerant to burn. Fire proof, or resistant, is really just an indication of how long a substance will
withstand a fire of a given temperature. Doesnt matter what it is, if you throw it into the sun, it is going to burn.
Another factor to consider, is flame spread index and self extinguishing ability. Some materials will not continue to burn, absent a continual source
of additional heat or ignition. Some will allow flame to spread quicker or slower.
ICC writes the building codes, called IBC. This is an international organization. International code council. A quick search should show which code
books Dubai has adopted, by year. Most jurisdictions here are still using IBC 2007. In the US, IBC refers to NFPA for their fire coding, as well as
electrical codes, which they consider to fall under fire protection. I am not sure how this is handled internationally, but I would be surprised if
it is much different.
A fire like this one that spans so many floors in a modern building is likely to be exterior only. Fire sprinklers DO extinguish fires very
effectively, when they are inside the building and the system is functioning properly. There are several reasons why this would not be the case,
however, it would require multiple system failures for a fire inside a room to reach outside the shell. Exterior shells as well as envelopes between
common areas, halways, stairwells, floors etc, are typically designed to a 2 hour fire rating. This means it should take 2 hours for a typical fire
to burn through the envelope.
Unless someone broke a window, which should be VERY difficult in a building like this, the fire should be resolved LONG before broaching the shell.
Another possible exception would be some new type materials that have poorly understood fire properties. In other words, perhaps the shell is made of
a very fire resistant material, but it is attached with a new adhesive that can act like an accelerant at a certain temperature.
Personally, my guess would be a balcony barbecue left unnattended which eventually caught the shell on fire, and the exterior surface began to burn
hot enough for the fire to sustain itself. Left totally unnattended, i would expect it would burn practically the entire exterior of the building,
but never actually enter the structure.
Disclaimer. I barely even looked at the pictures, have never been to dubai, and nothing I have said here should be construed as advice or code
interpretation. Information only.