The acronym PRISME comes from the French phrase propagation d’un incendie pour des scénarios multi-locaux élémentaires, which in English can be translated as "fire propagation in elementary, multi-room scenarios".

The PRISME project consists of a series of fire and smoke propagation tests in a dedicated facility at the French Institut de radioprotection et de sûreté nucléaire (IRSN) centre at Cadarache. The facility is used to investigate room-to-room heat and smoke propagation, the effect of network ventilation and the resulting thermal stresses to sensitive safety equipment of such room configurations. It is also planned to use data from the project to study multi-room fires and for validating fire computer codes.

Several propagation modes are being studied: through a door; along a ventilation duct that crosses the room containing the fire and that ventilates an adjacent room; along a ventilation duct when flow is reversed within; and through leakages between several rooms.

The project aims to provide such critical information as the time that elapses before target equipment malfunctions and to qualify computer codes modelling heat and smoke propagation phenomena. The objective is to answer questions concerning smoke and heat propagation inside an installation, by means of experiments tailored for code validation purposes. In particular, the project aims to provide answers to the following questions:

The results obtained will be used as a basis for qualifying fire codes (either simplified zone model codes or computerised fluid dynamics codes used in the fire safety analysis of nuclear installations and plants). After qualification, these codes could be applied for simulating other fire propagation scenarios in various room configurations with a good degree of confidence. The information will be useful for designers in order to select the best fire protection strategy. For the operators, this data could be useful for establishing the suitable operation of the plant, such as the operation of the ventilation network (e.g. closing dampers to reduce the ventilation flow rate or to stop the ventilation) in case of a fire.

The first tests were carried out and reported on in 2006. At the same time the conditions for the entire test series were discussed, including how to support the experimental projects with analyses and code assessments. Further tests were carried out and reported upon as scheduled in 2007. Two meetings of the project steering bodies were held in April and October 2007. The conditions for the entire test series were addressed in the meetings, including ways to support the experimental projects with analyses and code assessments. As requested by the project members, the French IRSN also prepared and submitted the plans and conditions for the four tests to be carried out in 2008, which were circulated among participants and subsequently revised according according to the input received. These tests will also involve facility modifications to meet specific members' requirements.  The PRISME Integral Tests are currently being carried out as per the schedule (these involve fire scenarios with the possibility to integrate specific devices and conditions).

Project participants


EUR 7 million

Project period

January 2006 to June 2011

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Last updated: 7 July 2014