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NIST Fire Research Earns Honors

From NIST Tech Beat: May 2, 2012

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Contact: Mark Bello

Fire researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) recently were honored by the International Association of Arson Investigators (IAAI), while the Fire Department of New York has just announced that it will name NIST fire protection engineer Daniel Madrzykowski an honorary fire battalion chief.

At its annual meeting on April 25 in Dover, Del., IAAI recognized NIST for helping to organize and provide instructional support for training and certifications programs for federal, state and local fire investigators. These programs often include exercises carried out at supervised burns, which use abandoned structures that are instrumented to accommodate controlled fire experiments. IAAI used video taken at fire experiments in Bensenville, Ill., townhouses as the basis for a training video, “The First Responder’s Role in Fire Investigation.”

The IAAI Outstanding Accomplishment Award also recognizes the NIST Fire Research Division for using the findings from its technical investigation of the 2007 Charleston Sofa Super Store Fire to assist in preparing an on-line training video that conveys lessons learned from that study (accessible at www.CFITrainer.net). That fire resulted in the deaths of nine firefighters. IAAI, which has a membership of more than 5,000 fire investigation professionals from around the world, singled out the value of the NIST Engineering Laboratory’s Fire Dynamics Simulator and its usefulness in reconstructing fire behavior.

A registered engineer, Madrzykowski conducts research in the areas of fire suppression, large-fire measurements, fire investigation and firefighter safety. He is also a member of the National Fire Protection Association and the International Association of Arson Investigators and is a Society of Fire Protection Engineers fellow.

Madrzykowski and NIST colleagues collaborated with the Fire Department of New York City (FDNY) and the Polytechnic Institute of New York University on research that determined how wind affects fires in high-rise buildings. That study included field experiments in an abandoned seven-story building on Governors Island, N.Y. The results confirmed that conditions created by wind can push hot gases and smoke from the apartment of origin into the public corridors and stairwells.

A set of instructional videos based on the research is available for firefighter training to improve safety for civilians and firefighters. Since the study was completed, Madrzykowski has continued to work with members of the FDNY as they modify their firefighting tactics to incorporate the latest research findings.

New York Fire Commissioner Salvatore J. Cassano will appoint Madrzykowski to the rank of honorary battalion chief at a ceremony on May 31.