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During the past century, efforts to control and reduce fire losses have concentrated successively on conflagrations destroying entire cities, large sections of cities, or large buildings, and, finally, on fires in the room of origin or in family residences. The first effort created effective fire departments, the second, the fire endurance concepts now an important part of the nation's building codes, and the third, now in full development, has produced research programs on interior finish, furnishings, and other consumer products. This current effort to protect occupants in the room of fire origin or in family residences is proving to be the most challenging and complex, technically and socially, of the three. These occupancies vary in materials used, configuration of the rooms, and placement of an infinite variety of movable contents.
To assess the level of fire safety, we must be able to compute or measure the time-temperature and time-gas concentration profiles at a number of points in the room. This requires, first, careful full-scale research and concommitant theoretical modeling. Second, it requires smaller, more economical tests which are correlated with the full-scale work. A series of such smaller tests will be necessary, including smoke and gas evolution, rate of heat release, and rate of fire spread over surfaces. Work on all of these is active now in many laboratories. The symposium will provide interesting progress reports on some aspects of these current efforts.
fires, fire safety, research, buildings, flammability, furniture, fire tests, fire hazards
Director, Center for Fire Research, National Bureau of Standards, Washington, D. C.