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Predicting the Effects of Barrier Fabrics on Residential Upholstered Furniture Fire Hazard



Morgan Bruns


A probabilistic methodology is presented for estimating the building fire losses. This methodology is applied to the specific case of residential upholstered furniture (RUF) fires. The objective of this application is to assess the fire losses associated with different cover fabric and barrier fabric combinations. Several RUF chairs with different fabric combinations are considered. Open furniture calorimeter heat release rate (HRR) data for these chairs was provided by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). Residential building statistics are compiled to generate a probabilisitic description of typical residential fire scenarios. Correlation and a zone models are used to predict the hazard conditions resulting from these chair fires in an ensemble of residential fire scenarios. Hazard is quantified in terms of the probability of flashover in the room of fire origin and the probability that the thermal fractional effective dose (FED) in an adjacent bedroom is greater than one. It is seen that the predictions of hot gas layer (HGL) temperature using the correlation are significantly higher than those predicted by the zone model. The more accurate zone model indicates that a single RUF chair fire is too small to flashover nearly all rooms considered. However, the zone model results indicate that the choice of barrier fabric significantly affects the HGL temperature. A reduction in the peak HGL temperature of at least least 100~$^{\circ}$~C was achieved for cases with barrier fabrics other than the worst performer. Even in the absence of flashover, it is possible to produce fatal conditions in an adjacent room for typical RUF chair fires. Barrier fabrics can reduce the probability of lethal conditions occurring in less than 30~min by at least 50~\%. Further work is needed to consider the hazard produced by larger furniture and the effects of secondary fuel sources becoming involved in the fire.
Technical Note (NIST TN) - 1920
Report Number


residential upholstered furniture, fire modeling, CFAST, Monte Carlo simulation


Bruns, M. (2016), Predicting the Effects of Barrier Fabrics on Residential Upholstered Furniture Fire Hazard, Technical Note (NIST TN), National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD, [online], (Accessed April 20, 2024)
Created July 26, 2016, Updated November 10, 2018