Oxygen consumption calorimetry has been used for more than twenty years to determine the heat release rate from experimental fires. Several investigators have quantified the theoretical uncertainty of heat release rate measurements. Estimates of the precision of heat release tests based on round robin results suggest that in practice the uncertainty may be much greater, in particular for intermediate and large-scale tests. The objectives of this paper are to examine the reasons for this discrepancy, and to propose actions that will improve the precision of heat release rate measurements to an acceptable level without raising costs beyond the reach of commercial fire testing laboratories. The proposed actions include the establishment of a proficiency program to obtain a realistic measure of the uncertainty of heat release rate measurements in fire tests.
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