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Towards a Process to Quantify the Hazard of Fire Protection Design Alternatives



Paul A. Reneke, Morgan Bruns, Stanley W. Gilbert, Chandler P. MacLaren, Richard D. Peacock, Thomas G. Cleary, David T. Butry


There are a variety of fire protection technologies that have the potential to improve life safety in residences including barrier fabrics for upholstered furniture, new nano-scaled flame retardants, or better fire detector technology. However, there is no accepted methodology available to determine the absolute or even relative performance of different technologies. The Engineering Laboratory of the National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST) is undertaking an effort to develop a method to quantify the relative improvements in fire safety that different technologies to evaluate the impact of changes in prescriptive or performance-based requirements. In order to better understand the process, this report examines the process for quantitative calculation of fire hazard of fire protection design alternatives using as an example case study the potential benefits of alternate requirements for residential smoke detector. The case study will help define the process, data, and tools necessary for a quantitative analysis of changes in fire protection designs. The long-term goal of the project is to develop a well-defined process and set of tools for such analyses. This report shows the result of the case study as well as a discussion of the process itself. Several conclusions are apparent. With the speed of current machines and zone fire models, it is practical to generate tens of thousands of cases to analyze. There is also a need for additional data, including but not limited to fire data, information about the distribution of floor plans and about type and arrangement of the contents. Finally, there needs to be guidance and modeling available to account for the impact of occupants’ actions and interactions with fires. Going forward, future research should focus on a two-prong approach. First, tools are needed to make Monte Carlo analysis more efficient. Secondly, additional opportunities to apply Monte Carlo analysis to real research problems would develop a
Technical Note (NIST TN) - 2041
Report Number


fire modeling, Monte Carlo, residential egress, residential fire safety, smoke detectors


Reneke, P. , Bruns, M. , Gilbert, S. , MacLaren, C. , Peacock, R. , Cleary, T. and Butry, D. (2019), Towards a Process to Quantify the Hazard of Fire Protection Design Alternatives, Technical Note (NIST TN), National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD, [online], (Accessed April 23, 2024)
Created May 1, 2019