Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


High Rise Fire Study Provides Insight Into Deadly Wind-Driven Fires

Fire researchers at NIST have just published two reports providing details of how wind affects fires in high-rise buildings.

Fire researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have just published two reports providing details of how wind affects fires in high-rise buildings. A set of instructional DVDs based on the research is available for firefighter training, and will lead to improved safety for civilian and firefighters.

While much is known about wind’s impact on outdoor blazes, little has been known about how a fire rapidly turns into a “blowtorch” —firefighter’s parlance—when a blast of wind enters through a broken window, particularly in high-rise buildings.

Thousands of high-rise apartment fires occur annually. Beginning in one room, a fire can quickly spread smoke, heat and gases through hallways and stairwells, limiting the occupants’ chances to escape and the firefighters’ ability to rescue them. NIST researchers conducted a series of experiments to study the effect of wind on high-rise fires—buildings seven stories and taller—and potential techniques for fighting these fires.

Eight experiments were conducted in NIST’s Large Fire Laboratory, where conditions were controlled and measured. “These tests demonstrated that wind and a simple room and contents’ fire can be extended when wind and an open vent are present,” explained Fire Protection Engineer Dan Madrzykowski. “The temperatures in the flow path reached at least 400 degrees C (752 degrees F)—far higher than a firefighter in full protective gear can survive,” said Madrzykowski.

An abandoned apartment building on Governor’s Island, New York, provided a real-life laboratory for fire researchers studying wind-driven fires and tactics to combat them. The Statue of Liberty can be seen to the left of the island.

The researchers also conducted field experiments in an abandoned seven-story building on Governors Island, New York. The results confirmed the laboratory findings—that conditions created by wind can push hot gases and smoke from the apartment of origin into the public corridors and stairwells.

Researchers experimented with techniques that had a significant impact on reducing the hazardous conditions. For example, firefighters placed a fire-resistant material over windows to block the wind. They also used a “floor below nozzle” that allowed them to spray water through a broken window from the apartment below. The importance of controlling the doors inside a building to interrupt the flow path and stop the spread of fire gases was demonstrated many times during the experiments.

The laboratory tests that NIST and the Fire Protection Research Foundation conducted are described in NIST Technical Note 1618, “Fire Fighting Tactics Under Wind Driven Conditions: Laboratory Experiments”.

The field study, in which NIST teamed with the Fire Department of New York City and the Polytechnic Institute of New York University, is reported in NIST Technical Note 1629 “Fire Fighting Tactics Under Wind Drive Fire Conditions: 7-Story Building Experiments.” (

Both projects were supported by the Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency Assistance to Firefighter Research and Development Grant Program and the United States Fire Administration.

A double DVD set on the research is available for teaching purposes. It includes a video overview, both reports, a PowerPoint presentation summarizing the results, training videos, and video documentation of all of the experiments. The information is available at The DVD set can be ordered by emailing a request to

Evelyn Brown | Newswise Science News
Further information:

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Diagnoses: When Are Several Opinions Better Than One?
19.07.2016 | Max-Planck-Institut für Bildungsforschung

nachricht High in calories and low in nutrients when adolescents share pictures of food online
07.04.2016 | University of Gothenburg

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

Im Focus: Ultra-thin ferroelectric material for next-generation electronics

'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.

Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Resolving the mystery of preeclampsia

21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine

Stanford researchers create new special-purpose computer that may someday save us billions

21.10.2016 | Information Technology

From ancient fossils to future cars

21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>