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.


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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