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Development of an Interactive Database of Contemporary Material Properties for Computer Fire Modeling

Award Information

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

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2019, $583,545)

Underwriters Laboratories, Inc. (UL) will lead a 3-year study to develop an interactive database of material properties needed to improve the capabilities of computer-based fire modeling and analysis for the investigation of fires. Over the past 30 years, changes in home construction materials, insulation, and contents have resulted in the potential for faster fire growth rates. Currently, fire modelers are either using values that have been provided in text books and handbooks for decades or older fire data that has been collected, organized, and made available on public web pages. While these data sets are valuable, they may not be representative of currently available furnishings, interior finishes, or construction materials.
Three of the seven Fire & Arson Investigation scientific research issues identified by the Technology Working Group Operational Requirements (TWG OR) (November 2018) are addressed by this proposal. These TWG ORs include: adequate materials property data inputs for accurate computer models, understanding the effect of materials properties on the development and interpretation of fire patterns, and evaluation of incident heat flux profiles to walls and neighboring items in support of fire model validation.
The proposed project has three major activities: 1) conduct a workshop to determine the materials that would be most useful to include in the database and the type of measurements that are most desirable for the database, 2) based on the workshop output, conduct a range of experiments to develop the data from construction materials, interior finishes, and furnishings needed as input to computer fire models, and 3) generate an interactive database of this information that can be easily accessed in a format that is most useful to the user. The database would include numerical, photographic, and video data as appropriate for the material.
The UL led workshop will include technical experts from the public fire investigator community, the fire research field, and private fire investigators. Representatives from organizations including: Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF), Chicago Fire Department, Fire Department of the City of New York (FDNY), International Association of Arson Investigators (IAAI), International Fire Marshals Association (IFMA/NFPA), National Association of Fire Investigators (NAFI), National Association of State Fire Marshals (NASFM), National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and academic intuitions will be invited to participate once the grant is secured.
This research project will draw from and enhance previous NIJ sponsored research such as the National Center for Forensic Science/University of Maryland Thermal Properties and Burning Items Databases (NIJ 2008-DN-BX-K167) and Determination of Material Property Data Input Data of Fire Modeling (NIJ 2016-DN-BX-0185). Outcomes will provide scientific-based data for training and reference materials, such as NFPA 921 and the SFPE Handbook, as well as a free, public domain, searchable, on-line database.

Note: 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).


Date Created: September 16, 2019