International Journal on Engineering Performance-Based Fire Codes, Volume 10, Number 1, p.12-16, 2011
FIRE LOAD DENSITY SURVEY IN FOUR SHOPPING MALLS IN HONG KONG Carmen C.S. Fong and W.K. Chow
Research Centre for Fire Engineering, Department of Building Services Engineering The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong, China (Received 1 December 2010; Accepted 11 January 2011)
Fire loads in four shopping malls with 301 retail shops in Hong Kong were surveyed and reported in this paper. It was observed that fire loads are different under different seasons. Shops might have higher fire load in summer, but lower value in winter. About 16% of the retail shops exceeded the upper limit of fire load density of 1,135 MJm-2 specified in the local code. The highest fire load density was observed in shops selling bedroom products such as curtains, blankets, pillows and mattresses. The survey results are also compared with those reported elsewhere in the literature. The fire load density for malls in Hong Kong is higher. Finally, it is interesting to note that fire load is related to the floor area, higher fire load density in smaller retail shops.
Shopping malls in the Far East used to be crowded with people in weekends and holidays. Regulations requirement on occupancy follows the means of escape code . The usable floor area that can be occupied by every occupant in a shopping centre from basement to 2/F is 3 m2. At levels 3/F and above, the usable floor area is 4.5 m2 per person. Storing high amount of combustibles would give fire hazard. Fire load density FLD (in MJm-2) is a key factor which should be studied carefully. It was estimated in the code  by inspecting the numbers and types of combustibles within a retail shop. FLD is given by: FLD = Sum over all mass of contents (kg) × Calorific value of contents (MJkg-1)/Floor area (m2) (1) This formula is outlined in the local fire service installations (FSI) code . Basically, items like storage racks, furniture owned Table 1: Shopping malls surveyed Year of construction 1996 1975 2002 1997
by the shop owner, lighting fittings and partitions are fixed fire loads. Commodities sold are the movable loads found inside a shop. FLD in shopping malls had also been surveyed in detail in UK with CIB report  and later in New Zealand . Calorific values of the combustibles had been reported in many similar studies. FLD has two parts [5-12]: fixed fire load and movable fire load. Fire safety provisions in shopping malls in Hong Kong required by the Authority are different in 4 periods classified as before 1972 (Class 4), during 1972 to 1987 (Class 3), during 1987 to 1998 (Class 2), and after 1998 (Class 1). Class 4 constructions are far too old. Refurbishment of old buildings would give shops complying with new regulations. Therefore, Class 4 shopping malls would then become Class 1. Class 3 buildings are still commonly found in Hong Kong. A field survey on fire load in classes 1 to 3 shopping malls was started in mid-January 2004. Four shopping malls were with main features summarized in Table 1.
Shopping mall Mall A Mall B Mall C Mall D
Location Mongkok Homantin Shamshuipo Central & Western
Target customers Students Residents and Students Residents Tourists
Number of retail shops inside 123 57 58 63
2 3 1 2
Estimated total floor area (m2) 4,500 12,300 6,100 12,500
Range of FLD (MJm-2) 320 to 1,670 190 to 2,440 100 to 2,530 75 to 1,730
International Journal on Engineering Performance-Based Fire Codes
Four shopping malls labeled as A, B, C and D were selected for conducting the FLD survey. Malls A and B were surveyed during the Chinese New Year in 2004. The shopping centres were decorated with plants, lanterns, poetic couplets, happy wishes written on red papers, and movable Chinese New Year background. The fire load densities within a shopping mall are expected to be...
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