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Fire Research Grants and Cooperative Agreements Project

Summary:

The total burden of fire on the U.S. economy is estimated as greater than $300 billion in 2008 or roughly 2% of the U.S. gross domestic product.1 The Fire Research Grants and Cooperative Agreements Project provide funding for the development of measurement science to support the Fire Risk Reduction in Communities and Fire Risk Reduction in Buildings Programs. This year, there are ten continuing and three new cooperative agreements which support measurement science research in fire modeling, materials flammability, predicting the spread of wildland-urban interface fires, fire protection engineering, and fire fighting technologies.

 


[1] John Hall, The Social Cost of Fire, NFPA, Quincy, MA, 2011.

 

Description:

Objective: To support the objectives of the Fire Risk Reduction in Communities and Fire Risk Reduction in Buildings Programs in achieving a significant reduction in the preventable burden of fire on society, communities, structures and their occupants, and the fire service through the development and implementation of measurement science and standards.

What is the new technical idea? Innovation in building design, materials, products and fire protection systems requires critical solution-enabling tools (metrics, models and knowledge), and a profession properly educated to implement these innovations, that can be facilitated by marshaling the intellectual resources of those beyond NIST, including those in academia and industry. As recommended in the 2003 report of the National Research Council (NRC),2 there is a need to "fund a program in basic fire research and interdisciplinary fire studies to hasten the development and deployment of improved fire safety practices through more coordinated, better targeted, and significantly increased levels of fire research in the United States." This project supports measurement science, both basic and applied, which addresses key aspects of the national fire problem, consistent with EL’s draft Innovative Fire Protection Roadmap and EL’s strategic fire-related goals and programs. This project does not support product development.

What is the research plan? In FY13, there were 10 continuing and 3 new grants which supported measurement science research in EL’s fire-related program areas. For FY14, final grant selection will take place in June and this project description will be revised as appropriate. The cooperative agreements support critical research in the two fire related EL programs. The specific research plan for each of the grants is outlined in each of the individual grant and are selected based partially on how well the proposed research supports critical areas in EL’s two fire related programs.

NIST work on the grants consists of administrative activities by the PIs, including selecting and monitoring research progress. An annual notice provides information on the availability of grant funds, applicant eligibility, program objectives, and selection criteria is issued in the Federal Register when funds are appropriated by Congress. As outlined in the Federal Register, proposals are sought that support specific objectives of the division.3 Grant awards are competitive and are based on a review and selection process. The process starts with submission of proposals. The review for a particular grant or cooperative agreement is coordinated by a NIST staff member (Federal Program Officer or FPO). A minimum of three subject matter technical experts are selected as reviewers. Potential reviewers are asked to not complete the review if there is a conflict of interest that would prevent objective evaluation of the proposal. Reviewers are asked to supply detailed comments to support their numerical ratings of the proposals. The comments help inform the decision-making on the proposal submission and are forwarded to the authors of the proposal. The identity of reviewers is confidential. The criteria follow NSF’s National Science Board approved merit review norms.

Reviewers use four proposal evaluation criteria to rate the proposals, including the technical merit, the potential impact of the results, staff and institutional capability to do the work, and the match of the budget to the proposed work. To evaluate the technical merit, reviewers assess the clarity, rationality, organization, and innovation of the proposed work, and assign a numerical score of 0 to 35 points. Reviewers also assess the potential impact and the likelihood of technical application of the results to the national fire problem, and assign a numerical score of 0 to 35 points. A link to EL’s website with its strategic fire-related goals, programs, and projects is provided. Reviewers evaluate the quality of the facilities and experience of the staff to assess the likelihood of achieving the objective of the proposal, and assign a numerical score of 0 to 15 points. Reviewers assess the budget against the proposed work to ascertain the reasonableness of the request, and assign a numerical score of 0 to 15 points.

The proposal selection process begins at a Panel meeting with all programs under Disaster-Resilient Buildings, Infrastructure, and Communities. The Goal Review Panel consists of NIST staff with appropriate technical expertise, appropriate Group Leaders, Program Managers, and/or Deputy Division Chief. The Goal Review Panel prepares and provide a rank order of the proposals to the Selecting Official, taking into consideration the results of the reviewer’ evaluations, the availability of funds; program balance; and the relevance to the objectives described in the Engineering Laboratory Grants Program.4 The Panel ranks the proposals and provides the recommended ranking to the Selecting Official. The recommendations are forwarded to EL Headquarters for concurrence.

 


[2] Making the Nation Safe from Fire, a Path Forward in Research, The National Academies Press, 2003.

[3] FIRE RESEARCH DIVISION: Promotes U.S. innovation and industrial competitiveness in areas of critical national priority by anticipating and meeting the measurement science and standards needs for fire prevention and control used in manufacturing, construction, and cyber-physical systems in ways that enhance economic prosperity and improve the quality of life. Carries out mission functions in fire prevention and control; and national construction safety teams. Carries out other measurement science research and services to support mission functions as may be necessary, including reducing the risks and consequences of fires in buildings and wildland-urban interface communities; advancing fire fighting safety and effectiveness; providing cost-effective engineered fire protection; and reducing the flammability of building contents.
FIRE FIGHTING TECHNOLOGY GROUP: Develops, advances, and deploys measurement science to improve fire fighting safety and effectiveness, and provide a science-based understanding of fire phenomena. Carries out mission-related measurement science research and services to advance fire fighting tactics; technology integration into fire-fighting equipment; physics-based training tools that predict fire phenomena and their effects on structures and occupants; fire forensics; and conduct disaster and failure studies to reduce the risk of fire hazard to buildings and fire fighters.
ENGINEERED FIRE SAFETY GROUP: Develops, advances, and deploys measurement science for cost-effective fire protection of structures. Carries out mission-related measurement science research and services to predict the fire performance of structures with respect to ignition fire growth and spread, detection, suppression, toxicity, and egress; develop cost-effective performance-based codes, standards, and practices used for fire prevention and control; and conduct disaster and failure studies to reduce the risk of fire hazard to buildings and occupants. 
FLAMMABILITY REDUCTION GROUP: Develops, advances, and deploys measurement science to reduce the fire hazard of building contents and construction materials. Carries out mission-related measurement science research and services to reduce material ignition probability, fire growth and spread, and environmental impacts; and develop codes and standards for cost-effective, fire-safe building contents and construction materials.
WILDLAND URBAN INTERFACE FIRE GROUP: Develops, advances, and deploys measurement science to reduce the risk of fire spread in wildland-urban interface (WUI) communities. Carries out mission-related measurement science research and services to develop risk exposure metrics; predict the spread of fires in WUI communities; assess fire performance of structures and communities; mitigate the impact of WUI fires on structures and communities; and conduct disaster and failure studies to reduce the risk of fire hazard in WUI communities.
NATIONAL FIRE RESEARCH LABORATORY: Develops, advances, and deploys measurement science to characterize the real-scale fire behavior of combustibles, and the fire performance of structures under realistic fire and structural loading. Carries out mission-related measurement science research and services to improve the fire performance of communities, structures and building contents; develop physics-based models that predict fire behavior and structural performance; and conduct disaster and failure studies to reduce the risk of fire hazards to structures and fire fighters.

[4] Announcement of Federal Funding Opportunity (FFO) Measurement Science and Engineering (MSE) Research Grant Program http://www.grants.gov/search/search.do?mode=VIEW&oppId=218193 1/29/2013.

 

Major Accomplishments:

Outcomes:

  • Improvements to the Wildland Fire Dynamics Simulator (WFDS) fire modeling tool including enhanced capabilities and accuracy, and improved physics, lists of flammability characteristics of ornamental plant in the southeast U.S.A., a simple fire spread modeling tool, a GIS-based tool for creating WFDS input files as documented in numerous publications.5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11
  • Developed a differential-scanning-calorimetry-based procedure for measuring the heats of decomposition and heat capacities of homogeneous combustible solids using very small samples on the order of mg.
  • Improvements to the Fire Dynamics Simulator (FDS) fire modeling tool including enhanced capabilities and accuracy, improved physics, new schemas, and implementation of revision control and configuration management as documented in numerous publications.12 Significantly improved and new subroutines in the Fire Dynamics Simulator (FDS) including the HVAC network model, soot deposition on walls, droplet evaporation and thermodynamics, improved thermophysical properties of liquids and gases, species database and new combustion model data structures and architecture, new reaction rate algorithms and input methodologies to enhance modeling of extinction, suppression, toxic species formation and re-ignition phenomena in FDS version 6,13 which has supported codes and standards development worldwide.14
  • A new paradigm for building fire performance and a new approach to risk-informed performance-based analysis and design has been developed. Analysis includes a comparison of the International Fire Engineering Guidelines (IFEG), BS7974, ISO TR13882, and the SFPE Engineering Guide to Performance-Based Fire Protection Design.15

 


[5] McNamara, 2007 Environmental Systems Research Institute (ESRI) International User Conference.

[6] McNamara, 2007 Indigenous Mapping Network Conference; McNamera, 2007 Washington Geographic Information Council Quarterly Meeting.

[7] McNamara, "Enhancing the Fire Dynamics Simulator (FDS) for Modeling WUI Fires," 2006 Environmental Systems Research Institute (ESRI) Northwest Users Conference.

[8] Mell, Manzello, Maranghides, Butry, Rehm, “Wildland-Urban-Interface Fires: Current Approaches and Research Needs,” International Journal of Wildland Fire, to appear

[9] Rehm, Mell, "A Simple Model for Wind Effects of Burning Structures and Topography on WUI Surface-Fire Propagation," accepted for publication in the International Journal of Wildland Fire.

[10] Rehm, "The Effects of Winds from Burning Structures on Ground-Fire Propagation at the Wildland-Urban Interface,” Combustion Theory and Modeling. 12:477-496, 2008.

[11] Rehm, Evans, "Physics - Based Modeling of Wildland - Urban Interface Fires,” in "Remote Sensing and Modeling Applications to Wildland Fires," a book in Geosciences Series published by Springer-Verlag and Tsinghua University Press.

[12] Floyd, J.E. and McGrattan, K.B., "Extending the Mixture Fraction Concept to Address Under-Ventilated Fires,"Fire Safety Journal, 44, 291-300, 2009.

  • Floyd, Jason, Coupling a Network HVAC Model to a Computational Fluid Dynamics Model Using Large Eddy Simulation, Interflam 2010.
  • Floyd, J and McDermott, R, Modeling Soot Deposition Using Large Eddy Simulation with a Mixture Fraction Based Framework, Interflam 2010.
  • McGrattan, K., Hostikka, S., Floyd, J., Baum, H., Rehm, R., Mell, W., and McDermott, R., "Fire Dynamics Simulator (Version 5): Technical Reference Guide Volume 1: Mathematical Model," NIST SP 1018-5, National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD, 2009.
  • McDermott, R., McGrattan, K., Hostikka, S., and Floyd, J., "Fire Dynamics Simulator (Version 5): Technical Reference Guide Volume 2: Verification," NIST SP 1018-5, National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD, 2009.
  • McGrattan, K., Hostikka, S., Floyd, J., Klein, B., and Prasad, K., "Fire Dynamics Simulator (Version 5): Technical Reference Guide Volume 3: Validation," NIST SP 1018-5, National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD, 2009.
  • McGrattan, K.B., Klein, B., Hostikka, S., and Floyd, J.E., "Fire Dynamics Simulator (Version 5): User's Guide," NIST SP 1019-5, National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD, 2009.
  • Floyd, J. and McGrattan, K. "Validation of A CFD Fire Model Using Two Step Combustion Chemistry Using the NIST Reduced-Scale Ventilation-Limited Compartment Data," Fire Safety Science - Proceedings of the 9th International Symposium, International Association of Fire Safety Science, Karlsrhue, Germany, 2008.
  • Floyd, J., “Multi-Parameter, Multiple Fuel Mixture Fraction Combustion Model for the Fire Dynamics Simulator”, NIST GCR 09-920, National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD, 2008.
  • Floyd, J.E. and McGrattan, K.B., "Multiple Parameter Mixture Fraction with Two Step Combustion Chemistry for Large Eddy Simulation," Interflam 2007, Royal Holloway College, UK, September 2007.

[13] McDermott, R., McGrattan, and Floyd. A Simple Reaction Time Scale for Under-Resolved Fire Dynamics. in 10th International Symposium, IAFSS, University of Maryland, June 19-24, 2011.

  • Vaari, J. Floyd, and R. McDermott. CFD Simulations of Co-Flow Diffusion Flames. In 10th International Symposium, IAFSS, University of Maryland, June 19-24, 2011.
  • Williamson, C. Beyler, and J. Floyd. Validation of Numerical Simulations of Compartments with Forced or Natural Ventilation Using the Fire and Smoke Simulator (FSSIM), CFAST, and FDS. In 10th International Symposium, IAFSS, University of Maryland, June 19-24, 2011.
  • Floyd, Coupling a Network HVAC Model to a Computation Fluid Dynamics Model Using Large Eddy Simulation. In Proceedings, Fire and Evacuation Modeling Technical Conference, Baltimore, MD, August 15-16, 2011.
  • Floyd, Jason, Coupling a Network HVAC Model to a Computational Fluid Dynamics Model Using Large Eddy Simulation, Interflam 2010.
  • Floyd, J and McDermott, R, Modeling Soot Deposition Using Large Eddy Simulation with a Mixture Fraction Based Framework, Interflam 2010.
  • Floyd, J.E. and McGrattan, K.B., "Extending the Mixture Fraction Concept to Address Under-Ventilated Fires,"Fire Safety Journal, 44, 291-300, 2009.
  • McGrattan, K., Hostikka, S., Floyd, J., Baum, H., Rehm, R., Mell, W., and McDermott, R., "Fire Dynamics Simulator (Version 5): Technical Reference Guide Volume 1: Mathematical Model," NIST SP 1018-5, National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD, 2009.
  • McDermott, R., McGrattan, K., Hostikka, S., and Floyd, J., "Fire Dynamics Simulator (Version 5): Technical Reference Guide Volume 2: Verification," NIST SP 1018-5, National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD, 2009.
  • McGrattan, K., Hostikka, S., Floyd, J., Klein, B., and Prasad, K., "Fire Dynamics Simulator (Version 5): Technical Reference Guide Volume 3: Validation," NIST SP 1018-5, National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD, 2009.
  • McGrattan, K.B., Klein, B., Hostikka, S., and Floyd, J.E., "Fire Dynamics Simulator (Version 5): User's Guide," NIST SP 1019-5, National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD, 2009.
  • Floyd, J. and McGrattan, K. "Validation of A CFD Fire Model Using Two Step Combustion Chemistry Using the NIST Reduced-Scale Ventilation-Limited Compartment Data," Fire Safety Science - Proceedings of the 9th International Symposium, International Association of Fire Safety Science, Karlsrhue, Germany, 2008.
  • Floyd, J., “Multi-Parameter, Multiple Fuel Mixture Fraction Combustion Model for the Fire Dynamics Simulator”, NIST GCR 09-920, National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD, 2008.
  • Floyd, J.E. and McGrattan, K.B., "Multiple Parameter Mixture Fraction with Two Step Combustion Chemistry for Large Eddy Simulation," Interflam 2007, Royal Holloway College, UK, September 2007.

[14] Building Codes:

  • The ICC International Performance Code is completely dependent upon the existence of validated fire models.
  • The ICC International Building Code recently considered code change proposals whose sole technical justification was the results of FDS simulations (e.g., Boeing Co. simulated large (10 MW) fires in large volume aircraft assembly structures).

Standards:

  • NFPA 72 (Smoke Alarms) includes PBD modeling as a component to determine detector spacing for automatic detection systems.
  • NFPA 130 (Passenger Rail and Tunnel Safety) requires validated fire model calculations as part of the design of tunnel ventilation.
  • NFPA 802 (Fire Protection Practice for Nuclear Reactors) requires validated fire models for design calculations.
  • The (NFPA) Fire Protection Research Foundation has recently highlighted the use of FDS in six major studies that it has sponsored with industry including, Smoke Detector Performance for Ceilings with Deep Beam Pockets, Siting Requirements for Hydrogen Supplies, Modeling of Fire Spread in Roadway Tunnels, Smoke Detection of Incipient Fires, Smoke Detector Spacing for Sloped Ceilings, and Smoke Detector Spacing for Corridors with Deep Beams. All of these studies were motivated by technical issues originating with the above NFPA standards.
  • ASTM E1355 and ISO (ISO/TC 92/SC 4) have published guidance documents on evaluating the performance of fire models. CFAST and FDS development and V&V supports these international standards.

[15] Alvarez, A. and Meacham, B.J., “Test-bed Environment Process for Assessing the Appropriateness of Engineering Tools to be Used in Performance-Based Design Applications,” to be published in Proceedings, 9th SFPE International Conference on Performance-Based Codes and Fire Safety Design Methods, SFPE, Bethesda, MD, June 2012.