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Introduction (NISTIR 6191)



Daniel M. Madrzykowski


The Building and Fire Research Laboratory (BFRL) of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), under the sponsorship of the United States Fire Administration (USFA), has conducted a series of experiments to demonstrate the suppression effectiveness of water-based fire fighting agents. Accepted test procedures for suppression effectiveness do not currently exist. Therefore, the results of these experiments are a first step toward establishing standardized tests for evaluating the fire fighting effectiveness of water-based agents. Because issues of toxicity and environmental effects of commonly used agents are of paramount concern to the fire fighting community, this report includes as an appendix, Wildland Fire Form Characterization. This characterization study includes methods of demonstrating environmental safety and toxicity as developed by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). The work reported here addresses a broad range of tests in order to determine those parameters that most critically effect firefighting performance. This project was a result of Public Law 103-27 which provided funding to the USFA, to demonstrate biodegradable, environmentally safe, nontoxic fire suppression liquids which are effective on Class A, B and many D fires. Since no standardized test methods or protocols were available to demonstrate the effectiveness of water-based fire suppression liquids, USFA tasked BFRL with devloping a methodology for conducting a demonstration. This task is consistent with NIST's mission to advance measurement science and develop standard test methods and with BFRL's program to improve fire safety.
NIST Interagency/Internal Report (NISTIR) - 6191
Report Number


class A fires, class B fires, class D fires, compressed air foam, fire extinguishing agents, fire suppression, large scale fire tests, small scale fire tests


Madrzykowski, D. (1998), Introduction (NISTIR 6191), NIST Interagency/Internal Report (NISTIR), National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD, [online], (Accessed July 24, 2024)


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Created July 1, 1998, Updated November 10, 2018