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Effect of Positive Pressure Ventilation on a Room Fire



Stephen Kerber, William D. Walton


Fire departments use ventilation blowers or fans to pressurize a structure prior to suppressing a fire. This pressurization or positive pressure ventilation (PPV) tactic has not been characterized carefully enough to establish specific guidelines for optimum use of PPV. PPV can assist in the venting of smoke and high temperature combustion products and make attacking the fire easier than without PPV. However, this tactic also provides additional oxygen to the fire and can increase the rate of heat and energy being released. This study examined gas temperatures, gas velocities and total heat release rate in a series of fires in a furnished room. The use of the PPV fan created slightly lower gas temperatures in the fire room and significantly lower gas temperatures in the adjacent corridor. The gas velocities at the window plane were much higher in the PPV case than in the naturally ventilated scenario. This higher velocity improved visibility significantly. PPV caused an increase in heat release rate for 200 s following initiation of ventilation but the heat release rate then declined at a faster rate than that of the naturally ventilated experiment.
NIST Interagency/Internal Report (NISTIR) - 7213
Report Number


air flow, air velocity, fan, fire fighter, positivepressuere ventilation, PPV, tactics, ventilation


Kerber, S. and Walton, W. (2005), Effect of Positive Pressure Ventilation on a Room Fire, NIST Interagency/Internal Report (NISTIR), National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD, [online], (Accessed April 12, 2024)
Created March 1, 2005, Updated July 30, 2009