FIRE INVESTIGATION
Full-Scale Experiments to Study Impact of Ventilation on Fire Patterns
Ranch House Experiments
To study how ventilation impacts fire damage and fire patterns in single family homes, experiments were conducted in a 1200 sq. ft ranch style house. The experiments ranged from fires with no exterior ventilation, to room fires with flow paths that connected the fires with remote intake and exhaust vents throughout the structures. Elevated fires originating in a kitchen were also examined.
Colonial House Experiments
To study how ventilation impacts fire damage and fire patterns in single family homes, experiments were conducted in a 3200 sq. ft. two-story colonial style house. The experiments ranged from fires with no exterior ventilation, to room fires with flow paths that connected the fires with remote intake and exhaust vents throughout the structures. Elevated fires originating in a kitchen were also examined.
Exposed Electrical Cord and Cable Experiments
These experiments were designed to compare the thermal conditions that lead to failure of different energized cord and cable systems and the type of trip for different circuit breakers when exposed to flashover conditions. Eighteen configurations which consisted of 6 different cords and cables and 3 circuit breakers for each cord/cable type were installed in the floor at the ventilation opening.

About The Project

Knowledge of fire dynamics is critical for fire investigators to properly identify a fire’s origin. Fire dynamics depend on the relationship of the fuel, heat, and ventilation during a fire event. A ventilation change as simple as a door left open by an occupant fleeing the fire, a window open remote from the fire, or a window that fails as a result of fire growth could greatly impact the fire damage inside the structure. UL Firefighter Safety Research Institutes's (FSRI) fire investigation project completed scientific research into how ventilation impacted fire patterns and electrical system damage in single-family homes.

During the past decade, research conducted for the purpose of examining firefighting tactics has brought focus to the impact that on-going changes in home construction materials, contents, size, and geometry have on a fire incident. Current residential structure fires are predominantly fueled by synthetic contents and commonly become ventilation-limited. How and where the fire receives oxygen, especially with a ventilation-limited fire, impacts the fire growth. This project explores both the subsequent fire damage patterns and exposure of energized electrical cords.

Four Key Objectives:
1
To examine how differences in ventilation to full-scale structure fires result in changes to the fire damage and fire patterns within the structure.
2
To measure the fire environment within the structures and compare the data with the fire damage in the structures.
3
To document the repeatability or lack thereof of the fire conditions and fire patterns within a structure based on the available ventilation.
4
To provide a discussion of basic fire dynamics in structures, specifically with regard to the impact of ventilation on the resulting fire patterns.

Project Partners

This project was supported by Award No. 2015-DN-BX-K052, awarded by the National Institute of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice. The opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this publication / program / exhibition are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect those of the Department of Justice.




UL FSRI assembled a technical panel of national fire investigation experts that represent a range of forensic specialties in both the public, private, academic, and research sectors.

Click here to see the project technical panel.

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