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Computerized Fire Simulations For Use In Fatal Fire Investigations



Daniel M. Madrzykowski


Learning Objective: To develop a conceptual understanding of fire modeling, model capabilities and the application of fire models to investigations.In conjunction with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has developed computer based fire simulations to assist in the understanding of the fire behavior in a number of line of duty death (LODD) incidents. The fire simulations provide insight into the fire growth and the spread of fire and hot gases through the structures.The Building and Fire Research Laboratory at NIST has developed a computational fluid dynamics (CFD) fire model using large eddy simulation (LES) techniques. This model, called the NIST Fire Dynamics Simulator (FDS), has been demonstrated to predict the thermal conditions resulting from a compartment fire. A CFD model requires that the room or building of interest be divided into small three-dimensional rectangular control volumes or computational cells. The CFD model computes the density, velocity, temperature, pressure and species concentration of the gas in each cell. Based on the laws of conservation of mass, momentum, species and energy the model tracks the generation and movement of fire gases. FDS utilizes material properties of the furnishings, walls, floors, and ceilings to compute fire growth and spread.A scientific visualization program, Smokeview, has been developed by NIST to display the results of a FDS model computation. Smokeview produces animations or snapshots of FDS results.A new feature of Smokeview allows the viewing of FDS output in 3-dimensional animations. An iso-surface is a three dimensional version of a contour elevation often found on topographic maps. Animated iso-surfaces are used to visualize the movement, spread and leading boundaries of the fire. Both models are available at no cost from presentation will include a discussion on the type of informati
Conference Dates
February 17-22, 2003
Conference Title
American Academy of Forensic Sciences


computer modeling, death, fire


Madrzykowski, D. (2003), Computerized Fire Simulations For Use In Fatal Fire Investigations, American Academy of Forensic Sciences (Accessed June 21, 2024)


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Created February 1, 2003, Updated February 19, 2017