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Investigation on the Ability of Glowing Firebrands Deposited Within Crevices to Ignite Common Building Materials



Samuel L. Manzello, Seul-Hyun Park, Thomas G. Cleary


A series of experiments were conducted to determine the range of conditions that glowing firebrands may ignite common building materials. The surface temperature of glowing firebrands burning under different applied air flow was quantified using an infrared camera. As the applied air flow was increased, the surface temperature of glowing firebrands was observed to increase. A crevice was constructed using plywood and oriented strand board (OSB) and the angle was varied to investigate the influence that this parameter has on promoting ignition after contact with glowing firebrands. The number of firebrands deposited within the constructed crevices was varied. Single firebrands were unable to ignite the materials used in this study over a range of applied air flows. For the tightest fuel bed angle of 60°, the glowing firebrands deposited on the fuel bed always resulted in smoldering ignition. For plywood, contact with glowing firebrands produced smoldering ignition followed by a transition to flaming ignition. At the fuel bed angle of 90°, no definitive ignition behavior was observed for either material; different ignition criteria (either no ignition or smoldering ignition) were observed under identical experimental conditions. As the fuel bed angle was increased up to 135°, ignition never occurred for both test fuel beds. For a given air flow and fuel bed material, the ignition delay time was observed to increase as the fuel bed angle was increased. A large difference was observed in the ignition delay time for plywood and OSB at fuel bed angle of 90°. Based on these ignition results, the critical angle for ignition exists between 90° and 135° at a given air flow. These results clearly demonstrate that firebrands are capable of igniting common building materials.
Fire Safety Journal


WUI Fires, Ignition, Firebrands


Manzello, S. , Park, S. and Cleary, T. (2009), Investigation on the Ability of Glowing Firebrands Deposited Within Crevices to Ignite Common Building Materials, Fire Safety Journal, [online], (Accessed April 16, 2024)
Created August 3, 2009, Updated February 19, 2017