5.E.2 - Other Waste: Building and Car Fires

Short description

For key source information please see the Overview-chapter 5.E.

Within NFR 5.E.2 - Other Waste: Building and Car Fires, emissions from building and car fires are reported.


With a method for estimation the AD developed within a research project 1), and after publication of Tier2-EF within the EEA-Guidebook 2019 2), a country-specific method is implemented and further developed. So now it is possible to estimate a full-scale-approach for all Buildings and the cars, additionally an estimation for waste container fires. In all cases only accidental fires are mentioned (including acts of vandalism).

Activity data

Official population statistics for Germany are applied as primary activity data.

From these statistical input data, the number of fires is estimated via the following steps:

  • specific values for number of fires per 1,000 inhabitants,
  • differentiated according to building,
  • vehicle and container fires,
  • Determination of the number of relevant fires per year in Germany in total,
  • Differentiation of the fires according to building and vehicle fires,
  • Differentiation of fires according to fire scale,
  • Differentiation of building fires by building category,
  • Conversion of different fires per year to full-scale fires per year - see addional description,
  • Transfer of the results on the number of fires in the form of number of full-scale fires per year differentiated by fire categories.

In order to apply the emission factors available from the EMEP/EEA Guidebook, the annual number of building fires is differentiated for detached and undetached, appartment and industrial buildings.

Table 1: Estimated shares per building category, for recent years

detached houses undetached houses appartement buildings industrial buildings
53% 13% 13% 20%

Description of Conversion to full-scale fires per year

During Review 2023 TERT asked for to more information of method zu fires' conversion, that is given following:

As other inventory compilers weighting factors were applied for each category in order to determine the number of full-scale fires. The idea is to assume that the default EF stands for complete burning of objects, but in real in most cases fires are extinguished as soon as possible.

Table 2: Percental shares of burnt combustible material per type of fire

type of fire % of burnt combustible material
Building fire, small a) 5
Building fire, small b) 30
Building fire, medium 75
Building fire, major 100
Car fires, small 5
Car fires, medium 30
Car fires, major 100
Container fires, standard 50

Germany uses the following information on EFs: It can be derived from the given information and references on building fires that EFs are given for full-scale fires 3). We have no country specific information, but the other appoaches seem to be suitable for our situation, too.

Table 3: Estimated number of full-scale fires, per category, per 1,000 inhabitants, for last recently years

detached houses undetached houses appartement buildings industrial buildings cars/ vehicles containers
0.02 0.05 0.05 0.08 0.18 0.15

As results we calculate with with the following range of data:

Table 4: Estimated number of full-scale fires per year, per category, range over time

detached houses undetached houses appartement buildings industrial buildings cars/ vehicles containers
15,700 - 17,000 4,100 - 5,300 4,200 - 4,700 6,500 - 6,600 15,000 - 15,400 4,100 - 4,200

Emission Factors

For most of pollutants Tier2 default values from the EMEP/EEA air pollutant emission inventory guidebook 2019 (as 2016), Chapter 5.E - Other waste, tables 3-2 to 3-6 are applied 4). Due to gap for emissions factors of black carbon we assume the following analogy: 10% of PM2.5 from Table 3-40, Tier 2 emission factor for conventional stoves, wood and similar wood waste. Regarding containers we use figure of Table 6.22 of Danish IIR 5).

In contrast to building fires, in accordance to the emission factor values provided in the EMEP/EEA Guidebook, no additional differentiation e.g. of vehicle categories is implemented.


For verification purposes, a consultant has checked the Informative Inventory Reports (IIRs) of other countries. In the IIRs of Denmark and Iceland it is additionally stated that the emission factors refer to so-called “full-scale fires” and therefore the activity data (i.e. the number of fires) must be converted to so-called full-scale equivalent fires.

All trends in emissions correspond to trends of AD. No rising trends are to identify, but a jump in 2003 due to many forest fires. Forest fires are part of the total fire AD and affect so the calculation in general, but here figures without forest fires are shown only:

Emission trends in NFR 5.E.2

Due to no sinking trends some pollutants are highlighted in present, so the relation of the PCDD/F is now important:

Emission trends in NFR 5.E.2


Recalculations were necessary due to correction of an Excel-error for container fires. The small changes can be shown as an absolute difference over time as follows:

Recalculations in NFR 5.E.2

Changes were made for all pollutants in the same trend. Due to correction of AD from container fires with the high specific EF for Dioxins it seems highly relevant - see secific racalculations. But it's an effect of a single correction without change of EF.

1) Project leader Site: https://oekopol.de/en/archiv-en/?doc=EN_720, Publication in prep. as Umweltbundesamt 2021: Research-ID 3717411050, “Wissenschaftlich-methodische Grundlagen der Inventarverbesserung zur Umsetzung der Hinweise aus den Inventarüberprüfungen 2016 und 2017”
3) See IIR of Denmark and of Norway