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Fire

NIST's fire research develops, verifies and utilizes measurements and predictive methods to quantify the behavior of fire and means to reduce the impact of fire on people, property and the environment.

Fire testing may have started some 2.5 million years ago when one of our ancestors stuck his hand into the first flame and “scientifically” determined that the temperature was too hot to bear. Since that primitive beginning, humans have been on an unending quest to understand, measure and exploit the behavior of fire—and most importantly, to improve our ability to protect life and property from its ravages. Fire testing at NIST, a staple of the agency’s research since the early 1900s, has helped provide much of the data, insights and knowledge demanded by that pursuit. Research has run covered everything from fire safety engineering and fire fighting to fire investigation and fire testing to fire data management and intentional burning.

How NIST Captures Great Fire Video Footage

Built to House an Inferno

Ariel view of National Fire Research Facility
Credit: NIST
Aerial view of National Fire Research Facility
The National Fire Research Laboratory aims to make buildings better and safer. Learn more about how it came about and what makes it unique in this feature story.

News and Updates

Industry Impacts

Firefighter Protective Equipment

Firefighters rely on self-contained breathing apparatuses (SCBA) to protect them from dangerous heat and toxic smoke. NIST research helped to improve industry

Commercial Building Fire Protection

Commercial buildings are over-engineered for fire protection, leading to billions of dollars in waste with little benefit to occupant safety. NIST leads

Projects and Programs

Residential Fire Safety Innovation

Residential fire losses substantially dominate the total fire losses in the U.S. accounting for 83% of the 2855 deaths, 78% or the 16500 injuries, and 58% of

Engineered Fire Safe Products

This project will conduct research to support the use of lightweight (wood, plastics, and composites)-engineered fire safe products (L-EFSP) with long fire

Publications

Role of Firebrand Combustion in Large Outdoor Fire Spread

Author(s)
Samuel L. Manzello, Sayaka Suzuki, Michael Gollner, A C. Fernandez-Pello
Large outdoor fires are an increasing danger to the built environment. Wildfires that spread into com- munities, labeled as Wildland-Urban Interface (WUI) fires

Software

BIRDS

Building Industry Reporting and Design for Sustainability (BIRDS) Building stakeholders need practical metrics, data, and tools to support decisions related

LoopDA

LoopDA is a natural ventilation design tool developed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology. Version 3.0 is an update to the original version 1

FDS and Smokeview

Fire Dynamics Simulator (FDS) is a computational fluid dynamics (CFD) model of fire-driven fluid flow. The software solves numerically a form of the Navier

BridgeLCC

Life-cycle costing software for preliminary bridge design BridgeLCC is user-friendly life-cycle costing software developed by the National Institute of

Tools and Instruments

Cone Calorimeter

In the late 1970s and early 1980s the fire community was pushing for reliable bench-scale tools to measure material flammability based on heat release rate. A

Fire Emulator/Detector Evaluator

The fire emulator/detector evaluator (FE/DE) is a computer-controlled flow tunnel used to re-create the environments surrounding detectors in the early stages

Radiative Gasification Apparatus

This apparatus, developed at EL, determines gasification rate (mass loss rate) of a horizontally oriented specimen exposed in a nitrogen environment to a

Awards