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This article reviews current knowledge of four stages of fire growth ignition, smoldering, flame spread, and burning of a fully ignited surface. Both cellulosic and thermoplastic combustibles are considered. In each case, the emphasis is that of the combustion scientist who seeks to identify controlling physicochemical mechanisms and ultimately to be able to make quantitative predictions of behavior based on understanding rather than empiricism. The present outlines of knowledge are traced, and problems particularly worthy of further research are identified. In view of the vastness of the subject, only a few highlights of the literature are discussed, 61 references are provided. Work in progress insofar as it is know to the author, is mentioned.
fires, ignition, burning rate, flame propagation
Vice president and director of research, Factory Mutual Research Corporation, Norwood, Mass.