The impact of thermal hazards on process buildings is an important component of site hazard evaluations. API RP-752 recommends that process facilities analyze thermal hazards and assess their impact to onsite buildings and their occupants. Thermal loads resulting from fires in process units and equipment can have a significant impact on buildings, especially if the building is close to the fire source. Some buildings may be designed for blast and toxic protection, which allows the buildings to be located near process units and equipment, but possibly exposed to thermal hazards from a potential fire.

Screening-level thermal models typically used in process safety applications cannot account for detailed building geometries and how they may affect thermal impact from fire on building occupants. A more robust approach using the Fire Dynamics Simulator Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) code has been used in this study to assess the impact of thermal hazards on a target building located downstream of a jet fire. Temperature and radiation increases inside the building due to the thermal loads at the building exterior surface were calculated. The results indicate that buildings can provide protection to occupants depending on exposure time and building/insulation design. The results clearly show that a detailed CFD model can be effectively used to assess the thermal impact of incident radiation on buildings and to assist designers with determining requirements for the building envelope to provide protection to building occupants.

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