Wind Driven Fires Part 1

Check out the video above and pay real close attention to the fire behavior.

These tests were conducted as a result of some LODD that had strange conditions that were not typical in high-rise fires. NIST conducted the studies with the assistance of FDNY and Chicago FD.

The clip in the upper left is of a bedroom and normal furnishings and an average fire load for this type of apartment.

The upper right shows the same unit, but down the a hall in the kitchen area.

The lower left shows the stairwell and the lower right is the outside of the apartment room with thermal imaging.

This test shows how an apartment fire turns into a blow torch when the fire room window fails or is vented by crews. The wind blowing into the apartment creates a blow torch effect making conditions untenable.

Watch the temperatures and the velocity of the heat and fire. At around 2:20 the window fails and all hell breaks loose.

The temperature is a a thermometer imbedded in the concrete wall for the thermal view.

This is some dangerous stuff and I will post more on this and the changes that are being suggested for high rise fire tactics.

But, this phenomenon is not isolated to high rise structures. We need only to look at the fire in Houston last year that claimed the lives of two firefighters and the Kyle Wilson LODD in Prince William County to see how residential fires are affected by wind.

Stay tuned and stay safe. More on this soon. For additional details and videos go to the NIST website at

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Jason Hoevelmann

Deputy Chief/Fire Marshal with the Sullivan Fire Protection District, a combination department, and a career firefighter/paramedic with the Florissant Valley Fire Protection District in North St. Louis County.
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Great read Jason. I liken this issue to the recent unfortunate events in Kentucky in which a firefighter was killed and another, his mother, seriously injured when struck at the scene of a car fire. The response to the tragedy was for the fire department to immediately institute a complete shut-down policy of any incident…
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Well written Jason; nice job. Bill Carey
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