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Impact of Sprinklers on the Fire Hazard in Dorms: Sleeping Room Fire Experiments

These post-fire photographs of the dorm rooms show the difference a sprinkler makes. There is little visible damage the in the top photo that had a sprinkler in the room; there was no sprinkler in the dorm room in the lower picture.
These post-fire photographs of the dorm rooms show the difference a sprinkler makes. There is little visible damage the in the top photo that had a sprinkler in the room; there was no sprinkler in the dorm room in the lower picture.

The report describes a series of experiments where fires were initiated in dormitory sleeping rooms and day rooms. The description of the experimental conditions includes: the geometry and construction of the building, the fuel load in the sleeping rooms and day rooms, and the location of the instrumentation used to measure gas temperature, oxygen, carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide concentrations and heat flux. Smoke alarm activation and sprinkler activation times are also reported. Five experiments were conducted. In two of the experiments, the door between the sleeping room (room of fire origin) and the corridor was closed. In the other three experiments the door from the sleeping room (room of fire origin) remained open to the corridor. In each case, door closed or door open, one of the experiments was sprinklered. The results from the experiments comparing the sprinklered and non-sprinklered sleeping room are also presented in the reports.

The results from these experiments demonstrate the potential life safety benefits of smoke alarms, compartmentation, and automatic fire sprinkler systems in college dormitories and similar occupancies.

Dorm Room 1: Closed Door, No Sprinkler (08:25) No audio.

Each room was furnished in a similar manner. The furnishings were typical of items found in college dormitory sleeping rooms: twin beds, desks, computers, books, clothing, towels, posters, carpeting, a television, and a radio.

The objective of this experiment was to evaluate the impact that a closed door would have on the fire and the level of hazard developed in the room of origin and in the adjoining corridor.

24 seconds after ignition, the smoke alarm in the fire room is activated. At 35 seconds after ignition, flames are attached to the bedding. At 40 seconds after ignition, flames are extended to pillow. At 45 seconds after ignition, flames are extended to desk chair. At 90 seconds after ignition, a smoke layer starts to form. At 120 seconds, the tell-tale sprinkler is activated. At 130 seconds, the blinds begin to melt. At 150 seconds, the smoke layer is approximately 1 meter below the ceiling. At 160 seconds, flames are attached to desk. At 165 seconds, the plastic bookshelf has melted and fallen. At 205 seconds, the blinds fell. At 210 seconds, the flame size is decreased. At 270 seconds, the smoke layer is descended to the floor. At 275 seconds, the flames are no longer visible. At 345 seconds, the thermal plume is no longer visible on infrared camera. At 555 seconds, the power is off in the room. At 610 seconds, the door opens and the firefighters are in. At 640 seconds, the fan in the room is on.

Dorm Room 2: Closed Door, Sprinklered (05:25) No audio.

Each room was furnished in a similar manner. The furnishings were typical of items found in college dormitory sleeping rooms: twin beds, desks, computers, books, clothing, towels, posters, carpeting, a television, and a radio.

The objective of this experiment was to examine the impact of an automatic sprinkler on a fire in a dorm room with a closed door. This experiment enables direct comparison between the results from Experiment 1 and Experiment 2.

At 12 seconds after ignition, the smoke alarm in the fire room is activated. At 16 seconds after ignition, the flames are attached to the bedding. At 31 seconds, flames are extended to the pillow. At 60 seconds, the smoke layer begins to form. At 90 seconds, the flames are extended to the desk. At 105 seconds, the sprinkler is activated. At 125 seconds, the flames are extinguished.

Dorm Room 3: Open Door, Sprinklered (06:25) No audio.

Each room was furnished in a similar manner. The furnishings were typical of items found in college dormitory sleeping rooms: twin beds, desks, computers, books, clothing, towels, posters, carpeting, a television, and a radio.

The objective of this experiment was to examine the impact of the automatic sprinkler alone on a fire in the dorm room without the benefit of the closed door between the dorm room and the corridor. The effect of the closed door is examined later in this report by direct comparison between Experiment 2 and 3.

At 22 seconds after ignition, the smoke alarm in the fire room is activated. At 35 seconds, the flames are attached to the bedding. At 60 seconds, the fire is extended to the desk chair. At 65 seconds, the fire is extended to the pillow. At 70 seconds, a visible smoke layer starts to form. At 85 seconds, the flames extend to the desk. At 112 seconds, the sprinklers activate. At 115 seconds, the smoke is visible in the corridor. At 120 seconds, the fire is extinguished.

Dorm Room 4: Open Door, No Sprinkler (10:26) No audio.

Each room was furnished in a similar manner. The furnishings were typical of items found in college dormitory sleeping rooms: twin beds, desks, computers, books, clothing, towels, posters, carpeting, a television, and a radio.

The objective of this experiment was examine the fire development and measure the level of hazard produced when there was compromised compartmentation, due to the open door, and no automatic fire suppression system. This experiment also provided a direct comparison with the previous experiment as a means to demonstrate the impact of the automatic sprinkler.

At 14 seconds after ignition, the smoke alarm in the fire room is activated. At 15 seconds, flames extend to the bedding. At 30 seconds, the flames extend to the pillow. At 60 seconds, a visible smoke layer starts to form. At 75 seconds, visible smoke starts to enter the corridor. At 76 seconds, the tell-tale sprinkler in the fire room activates. At 80 seconds, the flames extend to the desk. At 90 seconds, the flames extend to the floor carpeting. At 100 seconds, the flames extend to the plastic bookshelf. At 110 seconds, the visible smoke layer starts to form in the corridor. At 128 seconds, the tell-tale sprinkler in the corridor activates. At 145 seconds, the plastic bookshelf falls. At 202 seconds, the right window starts to fail. At 220 seconds, the right window failure completes and the center window starts to fail. At 225 seconds, the fire comes out of the right window. At 287 seconds, the center window failure completes and fire comes out of all three windows. At 430 seconds, the smoke door opens and the firefighter enters. At 465 seconds, hose stream suppression commences. At 550 seconds, the fire is extinguished and suppression completes.

Dorm Room 5: Open Door, No Sprinkler (10:26) No audio.

Each room was furnished in a similar manner. The furnishings were typical of items found in college dormitory sleeping rooms: twin beds, desks, computers, books, clothing, towels, posters, carpeting, a television, and a radio.

The objective of this experiment was to replicate Experiment 4 and provide another baseline data set with an open door and no automatic fire suppression.

At 25 seconds after ignition, visible smoke layer forms. At 26 seconds after ignition, the smoke alarm in the fire room activates. At 35 seconds, the flames extend to the bedding. At 40 seconds, smoke starts to enter the corridor. At 45 seconds, flames extend to the pillow. At 70 seconds, a smoke layer starts to form in the corridor. At 110 seconds, the tell-tale sprinkler in the fire room activates. At 165 seconds, the flames extend to the desk. At 180 seconds, the plastic bookshelf falls. At 191 seconds, the right window starts to fail, and the glass is cracking. At 224 seconds, the tell-tale sprinkler in the corridor is activated. At 246 seconds, the smoke is down to the floor. At 247 seconds, the center window begins to fail. At 290 seconds, the flames begin escaping out small openings in the right window glass. At 305 seconds, the left window starts to fail. At 331 seconds, the right window failure completes. At 405 seconds, the flames escape out of openings near the top of the left window glass. At 417 seconds, the center window failure completes. At 426 seconds, the left window failure completes. At 501 seconds, the door opens. At 570 seconds, fire suppression begins.

Impact of Sprinklers on the Fire Hazard in Dormitories: Sleeping Room Experiments PowerPoint (8,997 KB)

This file contains a presentation of NIST IR 7120 and NIST TN 1658, Impact of Sprinklers on the Fire Hazard in Dormitories: Sleeping Room Experiments. It features their objectives, experimental arrangement, results and summary.

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Dorm Room 1: Closed Door, No Sprinkler (10:26) No audio.

Click here to download the 4x video (WMV)

Dorm Room 2: Closed Door, Sprinklered (05:25) No audio.

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Dorm Room 3: Open Door, Sprinklered (06:25) No audio.

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Dorm Room 4: Open Door, No Sprinkler (10:26) No audio.

Click here to download the 4x video (WMV)

Dorm Room 5: Open Door, No Sprinkler (10:26) No audio.

Click here to download the 4x video (WMV)

PowerPoint: Impact of Sprinklers on the Fire Hazard in Dormitories: Sleeping Room Experiments (8,997 KB)

Click here to download the PowerPoint presentation (PPT)

*** NOTE: The above video files must be in the same folder as the PowerPoint presentation in order to play the videos embedded in the presentation.

 

Download the complete report, NIST TN 1658

Contact

General Information:

Daniel Madrzykowski
madrzy@nist.gov
301 975 6677 Telephone

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Gaithersburg, MD 20899-8661
NIST Engineering Laboratory (EL)