A History of Fire Testing by J. Randall Lawson

By J. Randall Lawson

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The ignition of materials is an important element associated with fire growth and heat release rate for fires. By controlling the ignitibility of materials, it will have a direct impact on the rate of fire growth associated with the ignition of secondary materials. This reduces the chance of flashover and will directly impact the production of dangerous quantities of carbon monoxide and other toxic fire gases. • Although controlling rate of heat release for materials has a significant impact on fire toxicity, work is still needed to better control the production of toxic pyrolysis and combustion products.

Additionally, Linda Mackay and Stephanie Naoum of the National Fire Protection Association assisted with providing historical information from NFPA. Appreciation is extended to Dr. Rodney Bryant (NIST/BFRL) for assisting with locating reference information on the development of hot-wire anemometry. Appreciation is extended to Dr. Greg Linteris (NIST/BFRL, NASA Astronaut) for his assistance in obtaining information on fire testing in space. Appreciation is also extended to Dr. Anthony Hamins for sharing his views on the future of fire testing.

Today, many fire tests are conducted using high-speed, data-logging, lightweight, portable computers that are more powerful than many room size mainframe computers that were being used less than 20 years ago. These tools have spurred a growth in fire physics and fire chemistry knowledge which has allowed for the rapid development and validation of fire theory, fire models, and fire tests methods based on the new capabilities. One of the significant advancements emerging from this revolution was the development of oxygen consumption calorimetry.

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