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Assessing the Predictive Capability for Real-Scale Residential Upholstered Furniture Mock-Up Fires using Cone Calorimeter Measurements. Part 1: Real-Scale Experiments



William M. Pitts, Martin Werrel, Marco G. Fernandez, Mary A. Long, Evan A. Eisenberg, James J. Filliben, Cory D. Runyon


This is the first of three reports describing a study designed to assess the feasibility of utilizing small-scale measurements in a cone calorimeter as inputs for predicting the burning behavior of real-scale residential upholstered furniture (RUF). Here the focus is the experimental approach and results for the real-scale experiments. A literature review provides the rationale for our interest in RUF and summarizes previous efforts to characterize and regulate its burning behavior. The RUF items considered are mock-ups consisting of four cushions arranged in a chair configuration and mounted on a metal stand. The effects on burning behavior of changes in five types of materials—Fire Barrier, Polyurethane Foam, Polyester Fiber Wrap, Upholstery Cover Fabric, and Sewing Thread—previously identified as possibly affecting RUF burning are considered. Four of the material factors have two conditions, while Barrier has three (i.e., no barrier, or one of two barrier types). A reduced factorial design utilizing 20 different material combinations is used along with a minimum of two repeats for each combination. The experimental behaviors of interest are flame spread (characterized by time-resolved flame edge contours on the back and seat cushions) and fire growth (characterized by heat release rate measurements). A variety of parameters are used to characterize the temporal variations of both. Graphical representations of the results suggest that three of the factors (Barrier, Foam, and Fabric) have easily identified effects on mock-up burning behavior. This finding is confirmed by a variety of analyses showing these three factors have statistically significant effects on mock-up burning behaviors, with Barrier and Fabric having strong and roughly equal effects and Foam somewhat weaker effects. Changes in Fiber Wrap or Thread result in no statistically significant effects on the parameters. It is also shown that interactions between Barrier and Foam are statistica
Special Publication (NIST SP) - 1246
Report Number


fire barriers, flame spread rate, flexible polyurethane foam, heat release rate, mock-ups, polyester fiber wrap, residential upholstered furniture, sewing thread, statistical analysis, thermal radiation


Pitts, W. , Werrel, M. , Fernandez, M. , Long, M. , Eisenberg, E. , Filliben, J. and Runyon, C. (2020), Assessing the Predictive Capability for Real-Scale Residential Upholstered Furniture Mock-Up Fires using Cone Calorimeter Measurements. Part 1: Real-Scale Experiments, Special Publication (NIST SP), National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD, [online], (Accessed May 22, 2024)


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Created February 10, 2020, Updated February 13, 2020