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Fire Risk Reduction in Communities Program


The objective of the Fire Risk Reduction in Communities Program is to develop and deploy advances in measurement science to improve the resilience of communities and structures to unwanted fires through innovative fire protection and response technologies and tactics.


This program focuses on reducing two components of community fire risk:
1) increasing the fire resilience of wildland urban interface communities and 2) enhancing the safety and effectiveness of fire fighters.  Wildfires that spread into wildland-urban interface (WUI) communities can be extremely costly in structural losses. The 1991 Oakland and 2007 Witch Creek fires in California resulted in property losses of $2.7B and $1.5B, respectively. In 2009 the fire service responded to over 1.3 million structure fires leading to 78,150 fire fighter injuries and 83 fatalities at an estimated cost of $8 B. This program combines lab- and field-scale experiments and observations with computer fire models to 1) characterize the WUI fire exposure, ignition, and fire spread in order to develop science-based standards, codes, and practices for fire resistant communities and 2) incorporate cyber-physical systems, and develop performance metrics and standards to enable integration of innovative technologies and provide safer protective equipment and more effective tactics for fire fighters.

The objectives of this program are consistent with the National Institute of Standards and Technology Act, which directs NIST to conduct basic and applied fire research into the behavior of fires in buildings and design concepts to provide increased fire safety. This program supports the Engineering Laboratory's (EL) Disaster-Resilient Buildings, Infrastructure, and Communities Strategic Goal to reduce the risk and enhance the resilience of buildings, infrastructure, and communities to natural and manmade hazards through advances in measurement science.  This program utilizes EL’s core competencies in a) fire protection and fire dynamics within buildings and communities, and b) resilience and reliability of structures under multi-hazards to provide measurement science that will enable 1) the development of new standards and risk assessment tools that reduce the destructive impact of wildfires on WUI communities and 2) the reduction of fire fighter and civilian fatalities and injuries and property losses due to fire.   

NIST has unsurpassed experience in fire testing and is a trusted source of unbiased, science-based, quantifiable recommendations to standards developing organizations including NFPA, ASTM International (ASTM), International Organization for Standardization (ISO), and International Code Council (ICC).  This program also advances the development and implementation of new technology by providing measurement science that promotes U.S. innovation and competitiveness.  
NIST's Firebrand Generator generates burning embers (or firebrands) that are major sources of ignition of house fires during blazes at the wildland-urban interface (WUI).
NIST's Firebrand Generator generates burning embers (or firebrands) that are major sources of ignition of ouse fires during blazes at the wildland-urban interface (WUI). Photo credit: NIST

Start Date:

October 1, 2011

Lead Organizational Unit:



Program Manager:  Nelson Bryner

Full Program Write-up (PDF)

Nelson Bryner