Firefighters often arrive at structures in which the state of fire progression can be described as ventilation-controlled or under-ventilated. This means that inside the enclosure the pyrolyzed fuel has consumed most, if not all of the available oxygen, resulting in incomplete combustion. Under-ventilated (fuel rich) combustion is particularly dangerous to occupants because of the high yield of toxins such as carbon monoxide and to firefighters because once firefighters enter the structure and introduce oxidizer, the environment can rapidly change into a very dangerous, fast burning condition. The fuel load in many compartment fires would support a several megawatt fire if the fire were not ventilation controlled. In the process of making entrance to the fire compartment, firefighters will likely provide additional ventilation paths for the fire and may initiate firefighting tactics like positive pressure ventilation to push the hot flammable combustion products out of the attack pathway. Forced ventilation creates a strongly mixed flow within the fire compartment. Ventilation creates a complex fluid mechanics and combustion environment that is generally not analyzed on the scale of compartment fires.
Citation: NISTGCR - 12-968
Pub Type: NIST Pubs
combustion, compartment fires, fuel, heat transfer, ventilation, structure fires