Development of an Interactive Database of Contemporary Material Properties for Fire Modeling

Development of an Interactive Database of Contemporary Material Properties for Fire Modeling

Materials properties database to improve fire modeling and fire investigation.
Development of an Interactive Database of Contemporary Material Properties for Fire Modeling
  • Overview
  • Updates
  • Resources


This study aims to improve fire investigation and fire modelling capabilities by enhancing the quality, quantity, and accessibility of available data on thermo-physical properties of contemporary materials. There are three phases within the scope of the project: developing a consensus on the data needed, generating the data, and developing an interactive, web-based repository that the fire investigation and fire modeling communities can easily access for information.  

This project is supported by Award No. 2019-DU-BX-0018, awarded by the National Institute of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice. 


The NIJ Technology Working Group’s Operational Requirements (TWG ORs) for Fire and Arson Investigation include several scientific research needs that require knowledge of properties of materials that are common in the built environment, and therefore likely to be involved in a fire scene. 

The specific areas of research include: 

  • Adequate materials property data inputs for accurate computer models. 
  • Understanding the effect of materials properties on the development and interpretation of fire patterns.
  • Evaluation of incident heat flux profiles to walls and neighboring items in support of fire model validation.

These topics address many of the gaps that limit the analysis capability of fire investigators and engineers. Each of the three aforementioned research topics rely, in part, on accurate knowledge of the physical conditions of a material prior to the fire, how the material will respond to the exposure of heat, and how it will perform once it has ignited. This same general information is needed to visually assess a fire scene, as well as if the investigator would like to estimate the evolution and consequences of a fire incident with a computational model. 


  • Measure material properties and fire test data on a combination of at least 70 construction materials, interior finishes, and furnishings for use as fire model input.
  • Develop an online database which provides adequate detail to enable accurate use of the data as input to a fire investigation analysis.
  • Demonstrate the use of the database for hypothesis testing.

Technical Panel 

Name Affiliation
Vyto Babrauskas Fire Science and Technology Inc
Ernest Barile Philadelphia Fire Department
Nicole Brewer Portland Fire & Rescue
Morgan Bruns Virginia Military Institute
Steve Carman Carman & Associates Fire Investigation, Inc
Paul Claflin Bureau of ATF, Fire Investigation & Arson Enforcement Division
Jason Dress Bureau of ATF, Fire Research Laboratory
Adam Friedman Bureau of ATF, Fire Research Laboratory
Brian Geraci Maryland State Fire Marshal
Barry Grimm International Association of Arson Investigators
Brian Lattimer Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
Chris Lautenberger Reax Engineering
Kevin McGrattan National Institute of Standards and Technology
Tom Sabella Fire Department City of New York
Stanislav Stoliarov University of Maryland


For questions about this project, please contact:

Published: July 2, 2021