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Full Scale Room Burn Pattern Study

NCJ Number
Date Published
December 1997
62 pages

In order to study patterns or indicators produced by fires, full-scale experiments were conducted using test rooms furnished as residential bedrooms, and temperatures and heat fluxes at various locations in the rooms were measured.


Rooms with features resembling typical residential bedrooms were constructed. Each room had a single open doorway, with a door that was completely open during the experiments, and each room was fitted with one double-hung window. While the layout of each room was nearly identical, room location inside the burn tower varied. Experiments involved chair ignition fires and gasoline spill fires. Conditions of room contents and building components were examined after fire experiments, and photographs were taken. Results showed good agreement between experiments with the same method of ignition. In addition, times to events such as window breakage and transition to flashover were similar. Comparisons of room conditions and furnishings after experiments revealed the following similarities: sagging of bed springs and bed frames, protection of room surfaces by furniture, presence of deformed light bulbs, more severe burning of floor surfaces near room centers than near room edges, and presence of areas burned clean of soot. Comparisons also revealed differences related to severity of burning and pattern types and locations. Further experiments are recommended to understand conditions present in fire rooms and the impact of fire ignition method on indicator formation. 10 tables and 61 figures

Date Published: December 1, 1997