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Fire Spread Through a Room With Polyurethane Foam Covered Walls



Daniel M. Madrzykowski, Nelson P. Bryner, William L. Grosshandler, D W. Stroup


As part of its technical investigation of the fire that occurred in a Rhode Island, USA nightclub in February, 2003, NIST has conducted real-scale experiments to better understand the rate at which fire spreads over foam covered walls and the environment that it creates within a test room. A physical mock-up was recreated in the NIST large fire laboratory, using approximate dimensions and materials that were similar to but not exact duplicates of what existed in the stage area of the nightclub. The overall floor dimensions of the test room were 10.8 m by 7.0 m, and the ceiling height was 3.8 m. A single open door was located in one wall. Convoluted polyurethane foam covered the drywall ceiling and the wood paneled walls of the alcove area, and extended along two walls. The test room was equipped with numerous thennocouples, video cameras, an infrared camera, heat flux gauges, bi-directional probes, and gas extraction probes to measure CO, CO2, O2 and HCN. Ignition was by two electric matches. The fire gases that emerged from the open door were captured in an oxygen depletion calorimeter. The Fire Dynamic Simulator (FDS) and Smoke View software were used to model the fire and smoke spread based upon the geometry, vent opening, wall and interior finishes. The preliminary simulations completed to date are able to recreate in a qualitative fashion the fire spread and smoke movement through the test room. The results do not reproduce exactly what happened in the nightclub during the .fire. but they do guide the simulations of the fire spread through the entire building which are currently underway as part of the NIST investigation. Experiments conducted with and without sprinklers behaved dramatically different, as one would expect. The temperature, gas volume fractions, flame spread; and heat release rate for the un-sprinklered experiment are compared to predictions of FDS and to measurements taken with sprinklers installed.
Proceedings Title
Interflam 2004
Conference Dates
July 5-7, 2004
Conference Location
Conference Title
International Interflam Conference, 10th Proceedings, Volume 1


fire science, fire safety, polyurethane foams, fire spread, room fires, walls, expeirments, instruments, sprinklers, gas temperature, gas concentration, simulation, nightclubs


Madrzykowski, D. , Bryner, N. , Grosshandler, W. and Stroup, D. (2004), Fire Spread Through a Room With Polyurethane Foam Covered Walls, Interflam 2004 , Edinburgh, -1, [online], (Accessed May 27, 2024)


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Created December 1, 2004, Updated February 19, 2017