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Full-Scale Fire Tests With Automatic Sprinklers in a Patient Room. Phase 2.



J G. O'neill, W D. Hayes, Richard H. Zile


The Center for Fire Research conducted a series of full-scale fire tests in a patient room and corridor arrangement to examine the use of automatic sprinklers in patient rooms of health care facilities. This is a report of twenty-one (21) fire tests in which either mattresses with bedding or clothing wardrobes served as the burning items. These results indicated that actuation of both pendant and horizontal sidewall sprinklers in the patient room acted to cool and redistribute the combustion products in the patient room and in the corridor away from the flowing sprinkler. This phenomena resulted in total obscuration throughout the tests area. It was demonstrated that the use of a fast response, (low thermal inertia) sprinkler resulted in significanlty less smoke obscuration in the mattress and bedding fires. Sprinkler spray distribution measurements were made to develop criteria for the position of privacy curtains with respect to the automatic sprinklers in the patient room. Recommended installation criteria are provided. Analysis of the test results indicated that the combustible clothing wardrobe fire resulted in room flashover in a nonsprinklered test. In several tests with sprinklers, flashover did not occur, however, estimated hazardous thresholds for carbon monoxide were still exceeded in the test area. It was determined that the combustible construction of the wardrobe primarily contributed to the high concentrations of carbon monoxide.
NIST Interagency/Internal Report (NISTIR) -


health care facilities, hospitals, mattresses, predictive models, smoke movement, sprinkler systems, polyurethane foams, sidewall sprinkler systems


O'neill, J. , Hayes, W. and Zile, R. (1980), Full-Scale Fire Tests With Automatic Sprinklers in a Patient Room. Phase 2., NIST Interagency/Internal Report (NISTIR), National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD, [online], (Accessed April 20, 2024)
Created June 30, 1980, Updated October 12, 2021