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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

Events

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

Design Fires for Structures Project

This project will address upcoming needs and take advantage of new resources associated with the completion of National Fire Research Laboratory (NFRL). The

Safety of Building Occupants Project

NIST will develop a model to predict evacuation decision-making during fires through a better understanding and quantification of the risk perceived by

Publications

The Characteristics of a 1 m Methanol Pool Fire

Author(s)
Kunhyuk Sung, Jian Chen, Matthew F. Bundy, Anthony P. Hamins
A series of measurements was made to characterize the structure of a 1 m diameter methyl 12 alcohol (methanol; CH3OH) pool fire steadily burning with a constant

Analysis of a Slug Calorimeter with a Curie Point

Author(s)
Jiann C. Yang, Thomas J. Ohlemiller
A lump-capacitance heat transfer model was developed to model the operation of a slug calorimeter constructed of metal with a Curie point. The resulting formula

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

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

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