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Report on High-Rise Fireground Field Experiments



Jason D. Averill, Lori Moore-Merrell, Raymond T. Ranellone Jr., Craig G. Weinschenk, Nicole Taylor, Randy Goldstein, Robert Santos, Doug Wissoker, Kathy Notarianni, Kathryn Butler


In order to balance community expectations with limited resources, the fire service and community leaders require scientific data that quantifies the effects of changes in fire service deployment on the safety of the public and firefighters. This report, along with the companion Report on Residential Fireground Experiments, establish a technical basis for deployment of resources to fireground events with varying levels of underlying hazards. Results are presented for 48 field experiments and 48 computer simulations that collectively quantify the impact of differing crew size deployments (3-, 4-, 5-, and 6-person crews), different alarm assignments, and different vertical response modes on occupant survivability, firefighter safety, and property protection for four potential high-rise fire response scenarios. For the high-rise fireground experiments, a 13 story vacant commercial building was acquired in Crystal City, VA. Props were built within the structure to closely resemble an occupied workplace including a mixture of employee cubicles and private offices. Fire crews from 13 Metropolitan Washington D.C. area departments were deployed in response to simulated fires within this facility. In addition to systematically controlling for the arrival times of the fire apparatus, crew size, alarm size, and vertical response mode were varied. Each deployment performed a series of 38 tasks that were timed. In addition to the time-to-task portion of the study, fire modeling was used to correlate time-to-task completion by crew size, alarm size, and vertical response mode to the degree of toxicity of the atmosphere in the structure for a range of fire growth rates.
Technical Note (NIST TN) - 1797
Report Number


high-rise, building fires, firefighting, deployment, response, fireground experiments, fire modeling


Averill, J. , Moore-Merrell, L. , Ranellone Jr., R. , Weinschenk, C. , Taylor, N. , Goldstein, R. , Santos, R. , Wissoker, D. , Notarianni, K. and Butler, K. (2013), Report on High-Rise Fireground Field Experiments, Technical Note (NIST TN), National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD, [online], (Accessed May 27, 2024)


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Created April 9, 2013, Updated October 12, 2021