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Design Parameters for Stack-Mounted Light Extinction Measurement Devices (NISTIR 6215)



Anthony D. Putorti Jr.


The light attenuation characteristics of the smoke produced by fire are commonly measured in both fire experiments and standard fire tests. The results of these measurements are traditionally used for building and fire code regulatory purposes, design and testing of fire detectors, advanced material development, and life safety calculations. In addition, recent research suggests that for various fuels burning in over-ventilated fires, light extinction measurements may be used for the determination of the mass concentration of smoke per unit volume and smoke yield. The methods used for measuring light extinction in various fire tests and experiments are not consistent, however, and frequently do not take into account previously determined sources of uncertainty. This paper discusses existing methods of light extinction measurement, theoretical aspects of light extinction, and measurement device features that are necessary for the accurate and precise measurement of extinction. The topics are discussed in the context of smoke mass concentration and smoke yield determination for fire experiments conducted in the furniture calorimeter at the NIST Large Fire Research Facility and in other similar fire research facilities.
NIST Interagency/Internal Report (NISTIR) - 6215
Report Number


light extinction, fire tests, furniture calorimeters, smoke, smoke meters, smoke yield, measurement, research facilities


Putorti, A. (1999), Design Parameters for Stack-Mounted Light Extinction Measurement Devices (NISTIR 6215), NIST Interagency/Internal Report (NISTIR), National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD, [online], (Accessed July 18, 2024)


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Created January 1, 1999, Updated November 10, 2018