Full-scale Testing Experiments Completed for Fire Patterns Project

November 21, 2016

The FSRI team conducted full-scale experiments over 40 days at UL’s Large Fire Lab to support the NIJ (Award No. 2015-DN-BX-K052) funded project to study the impact of ventilation on burn patterns.

Experiments were conducted in a two-story, open floor plan colonial style structure and single-story ranch style structure. The first experiments were conducted with all of the exterior vents closed to provide a baseline of fire damage. The fires were started in the living room of the ranch and in the family room of the colonial. During the “closed” experiments, the fires consumed the oxygen that was contained within the structure. The temperatures and pressures inside the structures increased as the fire grew. The peak pressure exceeded 150 Pa. An audible noise was generated by the gases being forced through small gaps around the doors and windows. Once the oxygen levels in the structures decreased, the temperatures decreased, the pressures decreased, and the fires nearly self-extinguished. Very little water was needed to suppress the fire.

The next set of experiments provided the front door as the single ventilation opening for the fires in the living room of the ranch and in the family room of the colonial. The fires burned for a longer duration of the test period. At the end of the test period the fires were extinguished in a manner where the fire damage on the walls or ceiling would not be disturbed. The damage was documented and will be compared against the damage from replicate experiments and from the “closed” set of experiments.

Kitchen After
Kitchen Before
A set of before and after images following a “closed” kitchen fire test in the ranch structure.


Six experiments examined the arc-fault potential of different size wires connected to parallel circuits with thermo-magnetic circuit breakers, ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) protection, or arc-fault circuit interrupter (AFCI) protection have been completed.

The team is headed back home to Columbia, MD to begin analysis of all the data. Thank you to NIJ for their support of this project.

Impact of Ventilation on Fire Patterns