Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

In unique fire tests, outdoor decks will be under firebrand attack

Date:
September 29, 2011
Source:
National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)
Summary:
NIST will unleash its Dragon, an invention that bellows showers of glowing embers, at a unique wind tunnel test facility in Japan, where researchers will evaluate the vulnerability of outdoor deck assemblies and materials to ignition during wildfires, a growing peril that accounts for half of the nation's 10 most costly fires.

NIST will unleash its Dragon —- a NIST invention that bellows showers of glowing embers, or firebrands—at a unique wind tunnel test facility in Japan, where researchers will evaluate the vulnerability of outdoor deck assemblies and materials to ignition during wildfires, a growing peril that accounts for half of the nation’s 10 most costly fires.
Credit: NIST

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) will unleash its Dragon -- a NIST invention that bellows showers of glowing embers, or firebrands -- at a unique wind tunnel test facility in Japan, where researchers will evaluate the vulnerability of outdoor deck assemblies and materials to ignition during wildfires, a growing peril that accounts for half of the nation's 10 most costly fires.

In a new report,* NIST researchers summarize suggestions for test designs and objectives offered by experts at a recent workshop convened in Los Angeles, Calif., with support from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and input from the Office of the California State Fire Marshal. This input is now being formalized into plans for experiments that will be conducted in early 2012 at Japan's Building Research Institute (BRI) in Tsukuba.

There, NIST and Japanese researchers have merged two technologies, NIST's Firebrand Generator (the "Dragon") and BRI's Fire Research Wind Tunnel Facility, which is devoted to studies of how wind influences fire. The combination gives them the singular capability to replicate a firebrand attack and expose structures to wind-driven showers of embers under experimentally controlled conditions.

The brain child of mechanical engineer Samuel Manzello, the NIST Dragon is a two-meter tall, goose-neck-shaped stove pipe that breathes in wood chips and exhales firebrands at a controlled rate. Manzello created the Dragon to support NIST's program to better understand and prevent fires at the wildland-urban interface (WUI), with the ultimate aim of reducing property damage and human casualties.

Firebrands, or embers, are generated as vegetation and structures burn in WUI fires. Post-fire damage studies have suggested for some time that firebrands are a significant cause of structure ignition in WUI fires. However, prior firebrand research has focused on how far firebrands fly, known as spotting distance, and has not yielded definitive results to guide development of building codes and standards.

In 2005, NIST began the cooperative research effort with BRI that ultimately led to the NIST Dragon becoming a permanent resident at BRI. NIST and BRI have used the combined facility to study the vulnerability of siding treatments, window glazing assemblies, and overhanging eaves to ignition during realistic firebrand showers. Results are shared with standards and regulatory bodies, insurers, and trade associations to inform their decisions on material and building requirements.

Another study examined the effectiveness of the standard wire mesh used to cover building vents on houses. Manzello and his team determined that the 6-millimeter (1/4-inch) spacing required in building codes were too porous to, and did not, prevent firebrands from igniting materials placed behind the mesh. Consequently, the California Code of Regulations was recently amended to require significantly smaller mesh sizes to cover vent openings.

Now, deck assemblies are slated to come under firebrand assaults from the NIST Dragon. Post-fire surveys conducted by NIST have documented that decks are vulnerable to ignition during wind-driven firebrand showers. However, codes and standards for decks have not been devised with detailed knowledge of the threat.

For example, in California, where wildland fires are an annual threat to many communities, the State Fire Marshal adapted an ASTM fire test designed for roofing materials to determine the response of deck materials to firebrand showers. The test entails placing a burning crib on top of a test deck and monitoring physical changes for a set period.

"It's assumed that this test represents a worst-case firebrand shower scenario," Manzello explains, "but no one knows for sure. The test does not simulate dynamic firebrand attack during a real wildland-urban interface fire. We are designing our full-scale tests to quantify the vulnerabilities and provide the basis for improvements in building codes."

Watch the NIST Dragon in operation on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1hjknwNCy_U

* S.L. Manzello and S. Suzuki. Summary of the 2011 Workshop on Research Needs for Full Scale Testing to Determine Vulnerabilities of Decking Assemblies to Ignition by Firebrand Showers. NIST Special Publication 1129, Aug. 2011.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). "In unique fire tests, outdoor decks will be under firebrand attack." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 29 September 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110928110004.htm>.
National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). (2011, September 29). In unique fire tests, outdoor decks will be under firebrand attack. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 19, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110928110004.htm
National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). "In unique fire tests, outdoor decks will be under firebrand attack." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110928110004.htm (accessed September 19, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Friday, September 19, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Wildfires in CA Burn Forest Asunder

Raw: Wildfires in CA Burn Forest Asunder

AP (Sep. 18, 2014) An out-of-control Northern California wildfire has nearly 2,800 people from their homes as it continues to grow, authorities said Thursday. Authorities said a man has been arrested on suspicion of arson for starting the fire on Saturday. (Sept. 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Elephant Undergoes Surgery in Tbilisi Zoo

Raw: Elephant Undergoes Surgery in Tbilisi Zoo

AP (Sep. 18, 2014) Grand the elephant has successfully undergone surgery to remove a portion of infected tusk at Tbilisi Zoo in Georgia. British veterinary surgeons used an electric drill to extract the infected piece. (Sept. 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Scientists Examine Colossal Squid

Raw: Scientists Examine Colossal Squid

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) Squid experts in New Zealand thawed and examined an unusual catch on Tuesday: a colossal squid. It was captured in Antarctica's remote Ross Sea in December last year and has been frozen for eight months. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Man Floats for 31 Hours in Gulf Waters

Man Floats for 31 Hours in Gulf Waters

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) A Texas man is lucky to be alive after he and three others floated for more than a day in the Gulf of Mexico when their boat sank during a fishing trip. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins