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NIST Fire Computational Tools

NIST develops computational tools to predict fire spread and growth in commercial buildings. Building architects and engineers use these tools to simulate, using defined fire scenarios, how fire-generated smoke, combustion gases, and temperatures change throughout the building as a function of the choices they make in the building construction, such as locations and sizes of rooms, sprinklers, and stairways.  Through these simulations, the architects and engineers are able to identify construction choices that reduce construction costs and/or add interesting architectural features while maintaining or improving fire performance.

One of the computational tools in this suite is the Consolidated Model of Fire and Smoke Transport (CFAST). CFAST is a two-zone fire model used to calculate the evolving distribution of smoke, fire gases, and temperature throughout compartments of a building during a fire. Recently, CFAST has been used to evaluate the likelihood of various furniture fires leading to flashover in U.S. living rooms[7]. Flashover marks a critical transition in the development of a room fire: when it is so hot in the room that the fire spreads nearly instantaneously throughout the space.

For more information on the impact these tools are having on the industry, please visit:

For more information on the tools themselves, please visit:


[7] Bruns, M.C., "Predicting the Effects of Barrier Fabrics on Residential Upholstered Furniture Fire Hazard," NIST Technical Note 1920, National Institute of Standards and Technology. 2016. Downloaded November 1, 2017.



Created December 1, 2017, Updated November 15, 2019