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Development of CFAST Based Fire Simulation Toolkit for Fire Investigators

Award Information

Award #
Congressional District
Funding First Awarded
Total funding (to date)

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2018, $487,386)

In 2016, the Subcommittee on Fire and Explosion Investigation of the Organization of Scientific Area Committees for Forensic Science (OSAC) identified the need for research to quantify the uncertainty and address limitations associated with current methodologies used to determine the origin and cause of a fire. The use of computer fire models can greatly facilitate the process of determining the origin and cause of a fire. However, these models are currently under-utilized by fire investigators because of difficulties in obtaining the necessary input data, complexities in the setup of the simulations, and challenges with interpretation of the results of the calculations. The proposed work aims at alleviating these difficulties, complexities, and challenges. The proposed project will focus on the zone fire model, using the Consolidated Model of Fire and Smoke Transport (CFAST) developed at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), because it has the right balance between the features it includes, the level of detail of the information it generates, and the time needed to complete a simulation. Primary objectives of the proposed project are as follows: (1) Create a comprehensive database of complete sets of CFAST input data for a wide variety of combustible building contents, such as chairs, sofas, bookcases, etc. (2) Create a comprehensive database of thermal and flammability properties for specific floor, wall, and ceiling materials and combustible building contents. (3) Develop a pre-processor to facilitate input data collection and model setup, and to manage tasks that require multiple simulations (e.g., to test different hypotheses or perform uncertainty calculations). (4) Develop a postprocessor to calculate specific quantities of interest to the fire investigator that CFAST does not provide and facilitate the report writing process. (5) Identify experimental and actual fires that can serve as illustrative examples and can be used to validate the model. (6) Create educational materials for a 2–3 day short course to train fire investigators in the use of CFAST and the databases and auxiliary software that will be developed. The expectation is that, as a result of this project, computer fire modeling will be a powerful tool that is readily available for routine use by the fire investigation workforce of the future. This project contains a research and/or development component, as defined in applicable law, and complies with Part 200 Uniform Requirements - 2 CFR 200.210(a)(14). CA/NCF
Date Created: September 27, 2018