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Smoke Measurements Using an Advanced Helicopter Transported Sampling Package With Radio Telemetry (NIST SP 995)



William D. Walton, W H. Twilley, Anthony D. Putorti Jr., R. R. Hiltabrand


A second generation smoke sampling package designed to be deployed on a helicopter winch cable has been developed and tested. Improvements in the second generation package include real-time sampling for carbon dioxide with an infrared gas analyzer and volatile organic compounds with a photoionization detector. Package location and altitude are determined via an on-board global satellite positioning system. Real time gas analysis data, position data as well as temperature, relative humidity, barometric pressure, wind speed, and package orientation are recorded with an on board data acquisition system and transmitted to a ground station for real-time display on a laptop computer. The package contains three sampling pumps which can be fitted with a variety of sampling trains and gas collection bags. The package was used to survey volatile organic compounds from an intentional fuel discharge and to collect smoke samples from two 231 m2 diesel fuel fires at the U.S. Coast Guard Fire and Safety Test Detachment in Mobile, Alabama. The design of the package, operated experience, and measurements taken during the diesel fuel fires will be presented. The burning rate for diesel fuel on water as indicated by the surface regression rate was found to be 0.079+- 0.003 mm/s. VOC and carbon dioxide concentrations in the smoke plume were measured. The total VOC concentration in the plume approximately 100m from the fire was only slightly higher than the background value. The carbon dioxide concentration measured in the plume at the same location was generally 50-100 ppm above background.
Special Publication (NIST SP) - 995
Report Number


in situ burning, oil spills, fire research, environmental effects, crude oil


Walton, W. , Twilley, W. , Putorti, A. and Hiltabrand, R. (2003), Smoke Measurements Using an Advanced Helicopter Transported Sampling Package With Radio Telemetry (NIST SP 995), Special Publication (NIST SP), National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD, [online], (Accessed June 14, 2024)


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Created March 1, 2003, Updated February 19, 2017