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Evaluation of Active Suppression in Simulated Post-Collision Vehicle Fires (NISTIR 6379)



Anthony P. Hamins


An investigation of the effectiveness of fire suppressants in simulated post-collision vehicle fires is presented. Two distinct fire scenarios were considered. The first configuration was a simulated engine compartment fire. The second configuration was a simulated underbody fire. The configurations were defined based on geometric and fire-related pammeters. Experiments were performed using both laboratory test devices and a mid-size passenger vehicle. A set of criteria was constructed for selection of suppressants for use in the suppression tests. The criteria were based on information from the fire literature and engineering judgement. Commercially available fire suppressants and several emerging suppressants were evaluated in terms of the criteria and a number of representative suppressants were selected for testing. Both traditional and emerging active fire suppressants were tested. These included dry powders, inert suppressants, compressed liquefied halogenated compounds, and a number of unique devices. The suppressants tested in the engine compartment suppression experiments were HFC-125 (C2HF5), HFC-227ea (C3HF7), ABC powder (NH4H2PO4, mono-ammonium phosphate), BC powder (NaHCO3, sodium bicarbonate), a tubular suppression system, solid propellant generators, and aerosol generators. The suppressants tested in the underbody fire suppression experiments were HFC-125, ABC powder, BC powder, solid propellant generators, and aerosol generators. A number of experimental protocols were developed to appraise the feasibility of fire suppression using the representative suppressants. The apparatus in each of the experimental configurations included a fire zone and a suppressant delivery system. The experimental procedure in each of the four configurations was essentially the same. A fire was established and after a specified duration, a controlled mass of suppressant was delivered to the fire zone.
NIST Interagency/Internal Report (NISTIR) - 6379
Report Number


passenger vehicles, automobile fires, compartment fires, experiments, postcrash fires, nozzles, fire suppression, fuels


Hamins, A. (2000), Evaluation of Active Suppression in Simulated Post-Collision Vehicle Fires (NISTIR 6379), NIST Interagency/Internal Report (NISTIR), National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD, [online], (Accessed April 14, 2024)
Created November 1, 2000, Updated November 10, 2018