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Why some fires grow large

In Sweden about one per cent of fires contribute to 50% of the total costs of fires according to statistics from insurance companies. It is possible that there are both technical and organizational factors that cause some fires to grow large and become more costly because major accidents almost never result from one single cause, but form multiple interrelated casual factors. To be able to reduce the number these fires or the consequences of them it is necessary to study these factors. If more knowledge can be gathered about these factors more cost efficient actions can be taken. In a project, called ”Why do some fires grow large?” are case studies used to study these factors. Swedish Fire Research Board (Brandforsk), Trygg Hansa and NBSG (Swedish NPPs Fire Safety Group) finance the project.

The project has resulted in three reports dealing with the following three different types of fires in different objects (buildings), namely:

Fires in school buildings

Attic fires in apartment buildings

Fires at nuclear power plants

These three reports are summarized in a final report (in swedish).

The project will be followed up with a study of fires in construction elements (e.g. facades and joists) financed by Brandforsk.


Nils Johansson
+46 46 288 48 21

Patrick van Hees
+46 46 288 48 39


Johansson, N. & van Hees, P. (2012). Slutrapport - Varför blir vissa små bränder stora? Report 3167, Lund University.

Johansson, N. & van Hees, P. (2012). En metodik för att utvärdera brandskadescenario på kärnkraftverk. Report 3158, Lund University.

Johansson, N. et al (2012). ”Combining Statistics and Case Studies to Identify and Understand Deficiencies in Fire Protection”. Fire Technology. DOI: 10.1007/s10694-012-0255-z

Trädgårdh, F. (2010). Radhusbränder – varför de dödar och växer sig stora. Report 5341, Lund University.

Van Hees, Patrick & Johansson, Nils. (2010). Fallstudier – Vilka tekniska faktorer spelar roll vid anlagda bränder i skolor. Report 3148, Lund University.

Johansson, N. & van Hees, P. (2010). En studie av vindsbränder utifrån statistik och brandutredningar. Report 3152, Lund University.