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Simulation of the Dynamics of a Fire in a One-Story Restaurant, Texas, February 14, 2000.

pdf icon Simulation of the Dynamics of a Fire in a One-Story Restaurant, Texas, February 14, 2000. (3243 K)
Vettori, R. L.; Madrzykowski, D.; Walton, W. D.

NISTIR 6923; 27 p. October 2002.

Available from:

: National Technical Information Service (NTIS), Technology Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce, Springfield, VA 22161.
Telephone: 1-800-553-6847 or 703-605-6000;
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Order number: PB2003-101575


building fires; fire simulation; computational fluid dynamics; fire models; computer graphics; fire dynamics; fire fatalities; fire fighters; fire investigations; wood trusses


[CD version of this report is available by contacting Daniel Madrzykowski at] This report describes the results of calculations using the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Fire Dynamics Simulator (FDS) that were performed to provide insight on the thermal conditions that may have occurred during a fire in a one-story restaurant on February 14, 2000 in Texas. A FDS model scenario was developed that represented the building geometry, material thermal properties, and fire behavior based on information and photographs from investigations by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), the City of Houston Fire Department, and the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms (ATF). The results from this model scenario are provided with this report. The FDS (version 2.0) calculations that best represent the reported fire conditions indicate that a fire originating in the office area of the restaurant spread into and throughout the attic space between the ceiling and roof. Upon the arrival of the fire department, the model results show this space had become a high temperature, oxygen depleted environment. Temperatures in this area ranged from 400 C to 1000 C (750 F to 1800 F) with an oxygen concentration of approximately 2%. The FDS model also indicates that the use of positive pressure ventilation, as illustrated in this scenario, did not have a marked effect on the intensity of the fire. Additional simulations were performed to provide insight as to whether or not lifting a ceiling tile just inside the entry door used by the initial firefighting crew could have given them an indication of the thermal conditions within the attic area. In this simulation the FDS model predicted that this would have indicated the presence of fire in the attic area.