Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock ( ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

EL Highlights February 2014

Return to Highlight page

Programmatic/Technical Accomplishment

Major Release of EL's Fire Dynamics Simulator (FDS) and Smokeview Fire Modeling Software

EL recently released major updates to its Fire Dynamic Simulator (FDS) and Smokeview companion software tools. Version 6 of the companion software tools includes significant advances and improved accuracy for the modeling of hydrodynamics and turbulence, combustion, solid phase heat transfer and pyrolysis, and radiation. A link to the latest FDS and Smokeview software releases and more information on these tools can be found at:

FDS numerically solves a form of the Navier-Stokes equations appropriate for low-speed, thermally-driven flow. FDS was the first publically available large-domain model that predicts fire spread, growth and suppression in a practical engineering application. Since the purpose of computing is insight, not numbers, Smokeview resolves the problem of communicating the results of huge 3-dimensional time-dependent simulations through visualization of the calculations with animations of smoke particulates, temperature slices, and heat fluxes to walls. Users can view a scene from any angle and from inside or outside. Smokeview enables both technical and non-technical audiences to understand the meaning of complex engineering analysis.

The tools represent one of the most important advances in the field of fire protection engineering in the last decade. The software allows practicing engineers, code officials, and researchers to perform high spatial and temporal resolution computational fluid dynamic (CFD) calculations of fire effects and visualize the results using personal computers. FDS has substantially raised the quality of fire dynamic information used in fire safety practice, fire investigations, planning costly large-scale fire experiments, and design of fire protection systems. FDS has become a standard engineering tool, internationally used by industry, academics, and government agencies. FDS has enabled the creation of new fields of endeavor including CFD forensic investigation through fire reconstruction, as well as computer-based training of first responders. Through its use and application, many new fire science insights have emerged, further extending the understanding of the behavior of fire phenomena. FDS recently received the 2012 Sjolin Award from the FORUM of Fire Research Directors ( for its impact on the advancement of fire engineering around the world.

Contact:  Glenn Forney (301) 975-2313,
Randy McDermott (301) 975-4310,
Kevin McGrattan (301)975-2712,
Kristopher Overholt (301)975-4510,
Craig Weinschenk (301)975-6899


EL Fire Researchers Receive Best Thesis Awards

Kristopher Overholt and Chao Zhang, members of EL's Fire Research Division, received Best Thesis Awards for "excellence in research" by the International Association of Fire Safety Science (IAFSS). The award recognizes outstanding contributions to fire safety science and engineering documented in a new Ph.D. or M.S. level thesis. Three awards were announced at the triennial International Symposium on Fire Safety Science. The awards go to the best thesis in each of the three key IAFSS regions: the Americas, Asia/Oceania, and Europe/Africa.

Kristopher Overholt, a staff member in the Fire Research Division, was recognized for his dissertation, "Forward and Inverse Modeling of Fire Physics Towards Fire Scene Reconstructions," awarded by the University of Texas at Austin. The dissertation developed a statistical parameter inversion framework for fire scene reconstruction based on Bayesian inference. This methodology was used with fire models to estimate probability distributions of fire size, fire location in a compartment, and material properties related to pyrolysis.

Chao Zhang, an Associate in the Fire Research Division, was recognized for his dissertation, "Reliability of Steel Columns Protected by Intumescent Coatings Subjected to Natural Fires," awarded by Tongji University, China. The dissertation examined the reliability of steel columns protected by intumescent coatings subjected to natural fires and developed a probabilistic based approach to determine the service life of intumescent coatings for steel columns.

Contact: Kristopher Overholt (301)975-4510,
Chao Zhang (301)975-6695 

Lipman Receives PDES, Inc. 2014 Bryan K. Martin Technical Excellence Award  

On March 13, 2014, Robert Lipman was awarded the Bryan K. Martin Technical Excellence Award by PDES, Inc. . Mr. Lipman made significant technical contributions to both LOTAR and the CAx-IF, consortia comprised of international automotive, aerospace, and defense manufacturers and supporting software vendors. Development of the NIST STEP File Analyzer (SFA) - The SFA, was the first means of performing automated semantic analysis of ISO 10303 files for compliance with prospective commercial implementations of the standard. ISO 10303, most commonly known as the Standard for Exchange of Product model data (STEP) is the most popularly used international standard for exchanging product data among US and global manufacturers.

PDES, Inc. is an international industry/government/university consortium committed to accelerating the development and implementation of standards enabling enterprise integration and PLM interoperability. The PDES, Inc. Executive Board established the Bryan K. Martin Technical Excellence Award in memory of Bryan K. Martin, whose exceptional record of strong leadership and tireless work helped to achieve PDES, Inc. goals. The Board presents this award annually to a PDES, Inc. member who has demonstrated superior technical contributions to the program.

Contact: KC Morris (301)975-8286

Created March 21, 2014, Updated June 2, 2021