This research project conducted an engineering assessment of three types of field fire dynamics models that are commonly used in fire investigation, with a focus on the ability of each model to predict characteristics of the fire environment generated from gas burners and modern upholstered furniture composed of synthetic materials in a compartment with a single entrance.
Two sizes of burners were used in experiments with heat-release rates ranging from 50 kW to 500 kW. Two furniture items included one upholstered chair and one upholstered sofa. Variables investigated in the compartment experiments included location of the burner or fuel package and the status of the door (open or closed). The study found that generally the predictive ability of all the models was better in the gas burner experiments than in the furniture experiments. The specialized fire dynamics routines were capable of accurately characterizing the flame height but did not accurately predict the other quantities for the furniture-fueled fire experiments conducted in the compartment. The zone fire model accurately predicted the layer interface heights, layer temperatures, flame heights, and oxygen concentrations in the compartment fire scenarios. The field model predicted accurate temperatures throughout the compartment, layer interface heights, velocities through the open door of the compartment, flame heights, and oxygen concentrations. More research is needed to develop recommendations on geometry and burning definitions for upholstered furniture in field models, as well as improved methods for model practitioners to predict heat flux. 21 figures, 19 tables, 58 references