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A fire burns along the ground at the edge of a wooded area.

Fire

Overview

Fire testing may have started some 2.5 million years ago when one of our ancestors stuck his hand into the first flame and “scientifically” determined that the temperature was too hot to bear. Since that primitive beginning, humans have been on an unending quest to understand, measure and exploit the behavior of fire—and most importantly, to improve our ability to protect life and property from its ravages. Fire testing at NIST, a staple of the agency’s research since the early 1900s, has helped provide much of the data, insights and knowledge demanded by that pursuit. Research has run covered everything from fire safety engineering and fire fighting to fire investigation and fire testing to fire data management and intentional burning.

The Research

Projects & Programs

Safety of Building Occupants Project

NIST will develop a model to predict evacuation decision-making during fires through a better understanding and quantification of the risk perceived by

Design Fires for Structures Project

This project will address upcoming needs and take advantage of new resources associated with the completion of National Fire Research Laboratory (NFRL). The

Additional Resources Links

News

partially knocked down fence in the foreground, a wildfire in the background

Knocking Down Fences for Fire Research

Wildfires don’t stop where the wilderness ends. They burn through communities and neighborhoods, destroying property and taking lives. In 2018, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection alone reported 7,948 wildfire incidents, burning almost 2 million acres across the state and resulting in 100 confirmed fatalities and 24,226 structures damaged or destroyed. NIST researchers are at
A researcher standing on recently burned terrain.

New Timeline of Deadliest California Wildfire Could Guide Lifesaving Research and Action

A burning workcart. There are sensors set up all around it, and the clock on the floor reads 13:59.

The New NIST Fire Calorimetry Database Is Available to Answer Your Burning Questions

Diagram shows a mattress being set on fire by gas burners in a standard flammability test.

Mattress Flammability Standard Is a Lifesaver, NIST Report Finds

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