Fire Safety

Studying the Impact of Ventilation on Fire Behavior in Legacy and Contemporary Residential Construction

This research study examines the fire dynamics associated with fire service horizontal ventilation tactics.
A building on fire inside of a lab

Understanding fire dynamics associated with horizontal ventilation to reduce firefighter injuries and deaths

There has been a steady change in the residential fire environment over the last several decades, including larger homes, open floor plans and an increase in synthetic furnishings. Through this research, the UL's Fire Safety Research Institute (FSRI) developed empirical data needed to quantify the fire behavior associated with these scenarios and develop practices to reduce firefighter injuries and deaths.

FSRI conducted 15 experiments within two houses that were constructed inside Underwriters Laboratories' large fire lab facility in Northbrook, Ill. The homes consisted of a:

  • one-story, 1,200 ft2, 3 bedroom, 1 bathroom house with 8 rooms.
  • two-story 3,200 ft2, 4 bedroom, 2.5 bathroom house with 12 total rooms, and featured a modern open floor plan, two-story great room and open foyer.

During the experiments, the researchers varied the ventilation locations and the number of ventilation openings. This included ventilating the front door only, opening the front door and a window near and remote from the seat of the fire, opening a window only, and ventilating a higher opening. One scenario in each house was conducted in triplicate to examine repeatability.

The results of these experiments enable the fire service to examine and update current thought processes, tactics, standard operating procedures and training content.

Fast Facts

  • This research project seeks to quantify fire behavior associated with horizontal ventilation to improve firefighting best practices.

  • This research was funded by the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Assistance to Firefighter Grant Program.