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Evaluation of Intumescent Body Panel Coatings in Simulated Post-Accident Vehicle Fires (NISTIR 6157)



Anthony P. Hamins


This report describes a portion of the work undertaken in Project B.4 (Evaluation of Potential Fire Intervention Materials and Technologies) of the Cooperative Research Agreement between General Motors and NIST. This report was financed by General Motors pursuant to an agreement between General Motors and the United States Department of Transportation. The key objectives of this project are reduction of flame penetration, heat transfer and transport of toxic gases to the passenger compartment in a post-collision vehicle fire. To accomplish these goals, experiments were conducted using a passive fire protection technology involving intumescent paints and caulks. These materials are used in the construction industry to reduce material flammability and to reduce the penetration of heat and smoke through doorways and vents. In this study, experiments investigated the effectiveness of these materials in protecting body panels during simulated post-collision vehicle fires. The tested intumescent coatings reduced heat conduction through a metal body panel, but failed to close and prevent flames from penetrating even small (6 mm) holes, which can occur due to the impact associated with a vehicle collision.
NIST Interagency/Internal Report (NISTIR) - 6157
Report Number


automobile accidents, automobile fires, automotive fuels, firestops, flame extinguishment, intumescent coatings, pool fires


Hamins, A. (1998), Evaluation of Intumescent Body Panel Coatings in Simulated Post-Accident Vehicle Fires (NISTIR 6157), NIST Interagency/Internal Report (NISTIR), National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD, [online], (Accessed April 12, 2024)
Created April 1, 1998, Updated November 10, 2018