Some of the most useful and compelling information obtained during a fire experiment comes from visual observations. However, the extreme environmental conditions present in a fire necessitate limited access during experiments. Current solutions to collect visual data from fires have largely been limited to two-dimensions, often with a narrow field of view and for limited periods of time; e.g. until the camera is destroyed. High-resolution omnidirectional cameras are rapidly getting smaller, better and cheaper and the 360-degree images and video they capture provide a more immersive viewing experience. However, to use such cameras in a fire, two problems must be solved: how to keep the camera cool and how to protect the camera sensors from the intense thermal radiation given off by a fire.
In a 2018 Engineering Laboratory Exploratory Project, NIST researchers designed, fabricated and tested a transparent, water-cooled enclosure to house various commercial 360-degree cameras to record video from inside a fully-developed fire. Details about the development and construction of the enclosure are provide in the presentation here.
Work to develop and deploy the camera system is ongoing. New 360-degree videos will be posted below as they become available.