“In experimental fire research, some of the most compelling data you can get is the visual data from video and photography,” says Matt Hoehler, a research structural engineer at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in Gaithersburg, Maryland. “So we’re always trying to get closer to the fire.”
With a prototype camera system developed by Hoehler and his colleagues at NIST’s National Fire Research Laboratory (NFRL), he has succeeded not just in getting close to a fire, but inside it. So far, the system has captured mesmerizing 360-degree video from a burning room, a mock-up of a museum collection storage room, a kitchen fire and, most recently, a forest fire. The footage allows a viewer to immerse themselves in the scene and shift their gaze in any direction to look at different aspects of the fire.