01em#1 Development of Testing Protocol for Insulation Ignition by Wildland Fire Embers


Development of a Testing Protocol for Insulation Ignition

by Wildland Fire Embers

Funding Opportunity No. 2016-NIST-MSE-01

CFDA# 11.609

DUNS: 170230239

Submitted by

O. A. Ezekoye, Bonnie Roberts, and Michael Chang

UT Austin Fire Research Group

Department of Mechanical Engineering

The University of Texas at Austin

Engineering Teaching Center II (ETC)

204 East Dean Keeton Street

Austin, TX 78712-1591

October 25, 2016


Summary Project Description

Technical Area:

characterization and prediction

Primary Objective

The primary objective of this project is to develop a testing protocol to characterize the thermo-chemical response and possible ignition properties of attic insulation materials contacted by hot reacting wooden ember materials. The proposed study is primarily experimental in nature, but computational data reduction models will be formulated to extract more meaningful insights from the experimental data. Additionally, the project results are expected to be encapsulated in forms that are available for use in design and analysis models.


The frequency and severity of wildland fires have increased in recent years. These fires burn vast regions of grass and forest land area, destroy wildlife, and affect the built environment when they extend to the wildland urban interface. Assessing how a particular wildfire will impact the built environment has proven to be extraordinarily difficult. Predicting how a wildfire will spread is a complex coupling between meteorological factors, topography, and fuel density. Further, predicting if and how a fire will penetrate particular types of structures and ignite material within the structure is equally complex. Prediction of wildfire impact on structures relies on development of a framework to analyze building vulnerabilities to wildfire threat. In general, very little work has been done on assessing how large heat fluxes, transported embers, etc. affect building materials and configurations. A range of potential failure pathways exist in current structures. Examples of failure paths include windows that might be cracked by external radiation, vents that can allow ember transport into attic spaces, attic insulation that can ignite if embers breech the vents, unprotected gutters containing dried organic material, flammable roofing materials, window sills, re-entrant corners built with flammable materials, etc. Understanding the ignition risks for building components and systems through testing will lead to development of mitigation technologies. Validated mitigation strategies and technologies can then be incorporated into building codes and standards.

\label{attic.attack.home}01em#1 Home lost to grass fire because of ember attack in attic space in Texas (from Texas Forest Service).