Firefighting Tactics Under Wind Driven Conditions: Laboratory Experiments

Report Date: January 2009

The presence of wind can create significant and rapid increases in the heat production, resulting in firefighter fatalities and injuries. Unlike wildland firefighting, structural firefighting typically does not take weather into account during an incident size-up. NIST conducted experiments to examine the impact of wind on fire spread through a multi-room structure and the capabilities of wind-control devices and externally applied water to mitigate the hazard. The experiments demonstrated how thermal conditions generated by a single compartment fire can be extended along a flow path within the structure when wind conditions and an open vent are present. The laboratory results in this paper are only one portion of the research needed to analyze the impact of wind driven fires and the potential methods to improve firefighter safety and effectiveness.


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  • National Institute of Standards and Technology

    The NIST Fire Research Division 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. This work involves integration of laboratory measurements, verified methods of prediction, and large-scale fire experiments to demonstrate the use and value of the research products.

    Through its programs in measurement, prediction, systems integration, and the dynamics of fire and its interactions with the built and natural environment, the division provides leadership for advancing the theory and practice of fire safety engineering, fire fighting, fire investigation, fire testing, fire data management, and intentional burning.

Madrzykowski, Daniel and Stephen Kerber. Fire Fighting Tactics Under Wind Driven Conditions: Laboratory Experiments. Gaithersburg, MD: National Institute for Standards and Technology, 2009. NIST Technical Note 1618, Print.

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