Examining how ventilation affects fire patterns and electrical system damage

Impact of Ventilation on Fire Patterns

Examining how ventilation affects fire patterns and electrical system damage.
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This fire investigation project completes scientific research into how ventilation impacts fire patterns and electrical system damage in single-family homes by performing full-scale testing in representative models of modern single-family homes that incorporate modern construction practices.


Over the past 30 years, home construction materials, contents, size and geometry have changed drastically - and consequently, so has fire behavior. Today’s fires, thriving as they do on predominantly synthetic materials, tend to become ventilation-limited. How and where a fire receives oxygen greatly impacts the fire dynamics and subsequent fire patterns.

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. 


  • Improve investigators’ understanding of fire patterns by increasing knowledge of fire behavior and the impact of ventilation on different fire scenarios.
  • Develop knowledge of fire patterns within full-sized modern residential homes, incorporating an open floor plan and two-story great room.
  • Identify and disseminate standard best practices for the use of fire damage and patterns resulting from ventilation during a fire.
  • Conduct fire modeling based on a series of full-scale fire experiments to further the linkage between modeling, fire ventilation and fire patterns.

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Published: February 9, 2022