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This engineering guide provides methods for predicting thermal injury to humans from thermal radiation. It is intended to be used in conjunction with the SFPE Engineering Guide: Assessing Flame radiation to External Targets from Pool Fires or other methods capable of predicting thermal radiation.
The human body cannot tolerate elevated temperatures for any long duration. Pain and damage to the skin, i.e., skin burns, begin to occur when the temperature at the basal layer exceeds 44 degrees Celsius. The amount of damage is a function of both the skin temperature and duration of time for which the temperature is elevated above 44 degrees Celsius. Previous studies on the effects of thermal radiation on the skin have led to empirical models, graphical techniques, and simple algorithms to predict the temperature-time histories of the skin and the degree of damage due to constant radiative exposure. All methods discussed in this engineering guide are limited to predicting only first- and superficial second-degree burns. For more severe burns, engineering guidance is not currently possible because of the lack of reliable data. Although this guide provides guidance on calculating the onset of pain from empirical studies, it does not include any prediction of human response to pain as it relates to fire safety decisions.
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