NIST Advanced Fire Service Technologies Program


This program focuses on improving the safety and effectiveness of fire fighters by enabling the effective use of existing and new technologies and tactics.  Increasing the safety and effectiveness is critical to reducing fire fighter fatalities and injuries, as well as the cost of fire service.  For existing and emerging technologies, performance must be measured in a scientifically sound method.  The fire service is learning to exploit existing technologies such as thermal imaging, positive pressure ventilation techniques, and is anticipating the integration of emerging innovative technologies, such as tactical decision aids, in-building sensors, training simulators, and the next generation of respirators.  Combining lab- and field-scale experiments with computer fire models, this program is developing science-based performance metrics which will allow industry to address the real functional needs of the fire service and will provide industry with the tools to develop and integrate innovative technology into fire fighter protective equipment and tactics.   




Objective:To provide the measurement science that is critical for developing and implementing innovative technology, enabling an information rich environment, and integrating the science into training tools which will improve the effectiveness and safety of emergency responders over the next five years, FY2011 – FY2015

What is the problem?Fire service operations, fatalities, and injuries accounted for approximately one-third of the approximately $320 B of the total social cost of fire in 2006 (Hall)[1]. There were over 1.6 million fires in 2006 leading to 83,000 injuries and 89 fatalities to fire fighters (NFIRS)[2] For existing and emerging technologies, it is critical that performance can be measured and evaluated in a scientifically sound method.  The fire service is learning to exploit existing technologies such as thermal imagers, wind driven fire techniques, and is anticipating the integration of emerging innovative technologies, such as tactical decision aids, training simulators, and heads-up displays.  Without adequate performance metrics, emergency responders may acquire technologies that do not perform or worse yet, place the users at risk of greater harm.   For example, personal alert safety system (PASS) devices are designed to provide an alarm signal of 95 dB when a fire fighter becomes incapacitated.   During high temperature exposure tests, NIST[3] discovered the alarm signal generator failed at high temperatures; basically, PASS devices were failing in conditions where fire fighters would most need a PASS device.  Performance testing which incorporated realistic fire fighting conditions would have identified this limitation.    For emerging technologies, science-based performance metrics allow industry to understand the real functional needs of the fire service and provide industry with the tools to develop and integrate innovative technology that addresses these needs, but still performs under fire conditions.    Whether a technology already exists or is just emerging, it needs to be transferred to the fire service.  Fire fighting simulators and training programs transfer technology to the fire service, allowing emergency responders to perform more effectively and safely.

The lack of adequate measurement science directly impacts the protective equipment and technology utilized by the over one million fire fighters in over 32,000 fire departments in the US.   The National Fire Research Agenda Symposium,[4] which was attended by over 50 organizations, including[5] the fire service, IAFC, IAFF, and NVFC, manufacturers, DHS, & USFA, identified and prioritized research needs for fire fighters.  “Urgent and critical issues” included improved respiratory protection, situational awareness technology, tactical decision aids, lessons learned/fire reconstructions, and strategies that would reduce injuries and fatalities.  Over 60 participants in the Innovative Fire Protection Workshop[6] held at NIST identified locator systems, tactical decision aids, improved respirators, and enhanced turnout gear as high priority research needs.    Workshops conducted by NIST in San Antonio, TX and Emmitsburg, MD, also identified tactical decision aids, protective clothing, locator systems, suppression, and ventilation as critical research needs for the fire service.[7] [8]

Why is it hard to solve   The measurement science problems are hard to solve because the typical emergency responder operating conditions are extremely difficult and the operating environment impacts different technologies in different ways.    For example, the wet, high thermal flux, and high temperature scenarios adversely affect the performance of thermal imagers, protective clothing, and respirators.   But the materials of construction, wood, concrete, or steel, and whether a structure is a single family residence, a commercial warehouse, or a high rise office creates issues for locator/tracking systems, tactical decision aids, and positive pressure ventilation.   For protective clothing the metrics must include high heat flux and moisture, but for locator technology, the metrics needs to include the signal attenuation caused by wood, steel, and concrete.  Given the harsh operating conditions in a wide range of buildings, one cannot simply develop a single performance metric or test methodology, but one is forced to develop specific performance metrics for each different technology. 

How is it solved today, and by whom   The measurement science issues have not been solved. The fire services are not able to develop their own performance metrics because they do not have the technical training or resources to develop and conduct performance tests of existing or emerging technology/ equipment for common fire scenarios.   Manufacturers have technical staff and facilities to conduct performance tests, but are unlikely to conduct or release data that places their product at a disadvantage in a highly competitive market.  NIOSH’s National Personal Protection Technology Laboratory (NPPTL) has expertise in respirator certification and does conduct human physiology testing, but it has no capability to expose protective equipment to high temperature conditions.   NFPA’s Fire Research Foundation prioritizes emergency responder research needs for its standards committee.   However, since the Foundation has limited funding and no research facilities, its role in resolving measurement science issues is more of a coordinating function;  getting those with funding together with those who can actually do the work.  For the past nine years, the AFST Program has been an active leader and participant in developing measurement science for fire service technology

Why NIST    NIST is an unbiased source of measurement methods and standards needed to assure that emergency responders can select quality, reliable new technology equipment that meets performance expectations.  NIST has unsurpassed experience in fire testing and is a trusted source of unbiased, science-based, quantifiable recommendations to standards developing organizations including NFPA, ASTM, and ISO

The AFST Program is a critical component as to how BFRL enhances economic security and improves the quality of life by reducing fire fighter and civilian fatalities and injuries and property losses due to fire.  AFST also promotes the development and implementation of new technology which promotes U.S. innovation and competitiveness by providing measurement science.   Performance based standards allow the fire safety industries to evaluate new technology and understand when the new technology is a true step forward not just opportunistic marketing.  As part of the Measurement Science for Innovative Fire Protection Strategic Goal, the AFST Program moves the science developed by other BFRL Programs out to the fire service and fire safety industries.  AFST contributes to and utilizes BFRL core competencies in fire protection and fire spread within buildings and communities.  

What is the new technical idea? The AFST Program develops performance metrics and test methods that directly relate to the operating environment and tasks performed by emergency responders.  For existing equipment or tactics, if relevant performance data is available, then a meaningful performance metric can be developed, but too often the necessary data is not readily available.  For protective clothing there is a significant amount of data for new protective clothing, but very little data on used or soiled clothing.    For respirators, NIOSH has collected data at ambient temperatures, but no data is available for high temperature exposures.   For respirator lenses, the current standard requires exposure in a 95 C oven, but no data for actual fire exposure conditions.  Lab- and full-scale tests will provide this data necessary to generate a comprehensive metric for the existing equipment.   For other existing technologies such as positive pressure fans and hose nozzles, the equipment is relatively simple, but the implementation is more complex.  Computer models and full-scale experiments generate the required data to allow performance metrics and usage guidelines to be developed

For emerging technology, there may be prototype systems, but the industry often has little understanding of the operating environment or requirements of the fire service.  The role of the AFST Program initially focuses on assisting the fire service and industry to characterize the operating conditions, and then collecting the necessary data to support representative performance metrics.   For locator/tracker technology, the industry tried to adapt existing technology including avalanche rescue, global position systems, and robotic pedometry.  Because there was no performance metric, each of these technologies claimed to have solved the fire fighter location and tracking problem.  As preliminary performance requirements were developed, the industry began to understand that fire fighters walk, crawl, and fall down in complex structures that often contain metal.  The range of movement, metal walls, and complex buildings defeated pedometry, GPS, and avalanche trackers, respectively.  The AFST Program will work with industry to examine hybrid systems which may employ multiple location technologies.  For the structural collapse predictor, an emerging tactical decision aid, preliminary full-scale field tests demonstrated vibration monitors did provide a useful signal, but further validation and assessment of reliability is needed.  Industry will utilize NIST science-based performance metrics to evaluate and improve their own products and develop new technology.

For both existing and emerging technologies, it is critical that the technology be successfully transferred to the fire service through computer model simulations, virtual training programs and science-based training materials.  

Why can we succeed now   In the past, the fire service has depended on gaining experience by responding to a large number of fires.   But, as the overall number of fires decrease and the more experienced fire fighters and officers retire, they are being replaced with younger, less experienced personnel who are more accepting of new and innovative technology.  In addition to a fire service that is more receptive to new technology, more technology such as tactical decision aids, and locator/trackers are just being developed.   Other technologies, including protective clothing and respirators, have seen recent progress in performance predictive modeling.   AFST program staff have the lab- and full-scale experimental experience and the computer modeling abilities necessary to develop the required performance metrics and standard testing protocols to evaluate existing technology, integrate new technology, and provide simulations and training programs

What is the research plan   The research plan includes two components that focus on developing measurement science existing and emerging technologies while a third component is directed at fire fighter simulators and training programs.  The allocation of effort between these three components was guided by the anticipated impact of each component on reducing fire fighter injuries and fatalities.  Within the each component, project selection was guided by anticipated impact as well as prioritization by the stakeholders

Approximately half of the effort is focused on providing the science that supports the development of performance metrics, standards, and testing protocols for existing equipment and technology

Respirators – Create computer generated simulation of internal flows during a breathing cycle with a leak. (Q1 FY2011), Generate database of temperature profiles for respirators at thermal fluxes from ambient to 5 kW/m2 from lab-scale exposures (Q3 FY2011), and metrics & sensor location to NFPA Respiratory Protection Equipment Committee[9] (2011)

  • Protective Clothing – “dark side” stressing of all outer shells at 5 C and 50% relative humidity.  (Q1 FY2011), Complete install and validation of thermal performance testing tools. (Q2 FY2011), and develop draft aging performance standard to NFPA Structural and Proximity Fire Fighting Protective Clothing and Equipment  Committee[10] (2011)
  • Hose Stream Effectiveness – Complete full-scale fire experiments documenting gas cooling effects of hose streams in a multi-compartment structure (Q2 FY2011), complete validation of hose stream models and complete summary NIST TN and archival articles on the results of the study. (Q4 FY2011), and provide results to NFPA Fire Suppression Committees[11], [12] (2012)
  • Performance Metrics of Critical Electronic Equipment – Modifications to the flow loop setup and testing procedures completed for securing the speaker microphones and measuring the signals. (Q1 FY2011), flow loop modified to simulate smoke and water vapor conditions, and provide recommendations to NFPA Electronic Safety Equipment[13] (2011)
  • Fire and Chemical Environment- Complete tube furnace experiments of fuels (particleboard, hardwood, Excelsior, and wood pallets) (Q1 FY2011), Complete spectroscopic measurements of gear to measure the amount and type of combustion products and deterioration of performance or polymer(Q2 FY2011), and provide recommendations to NFPA 1403 Live Fire Training(2012)

About forty percent of the effort is applied to exploit emerging innovative technology in order to allow the fire service to quickly take advantage of new technology and/or the information rich environment

  • Emergency responder/occupant locators – Repor on results of FY10 workshop on evaluation of first responder locating systems(Q1 FY2011), develop and demonstrate a method for non-line-of-sight ground truth tracking for evaluating the performance of first responder locating systems. (Q3 FY2011), and produce tools for locating occupants in emergency events (2012)
  • Tactical decision aidsDevelop prioritization criteria for the types of information needed to alert emergency responders to critical situations in residential buildings (Q1 FY2011), document the use of structural monitoring devices as a test case for a situational awareness tool (Q4 FY2011), and provide results to NFPA Electronic Safety Equipment Committee (2013). 

The remaining ten percent of the effort is directed at fire fighting simulators and training programs to insure that the above science and technology can be successfully transferred in a usable form to the fire service

  • report comparing FDS simulations with townhouse fire dat (Q2 FY2011), analyze data from UL fire/ventilation experiments with both a two story colonial style home and a one story ranch style home (Q4 FY2011), complete a suite of interactive training modules for three different types of residential structures based on full-scale data (2011)

How will teamwork be ensured   The Program involves staff from 3 of the 4 groups in the Fire Research Division, from BFRL’s Construction Metrology & Automation Group, and from EEEL’s Electromagnetics Division (Boulder).  A series of communications were conducted with staff on program direction and project milestones through e-mail and individual discussions.  Interaction between team members will be encouraged through informal and formal sharing of project results through individual meetings coordinated by the Program Manager, through information sharing at BFRL Seminars, and through team meetings. 

What is the impact if successful   Over 1.3 million fire fighters will have better access to proven technology and this will allow them to operate more safely and more effectively on the fire ground.   Over the next five years, this enhanced operational effectiveness on the fire ground is aimed at reducing fire fighter injuries and fatalities by 25%, as well as reducing property losses by 5%.  Fire fighting technology developers and manufacturers will have a proven set of performance metrics, standards, and testing protocols for evaluating existing technology and developing new technology.   Because the standards will provide a uniform, unbiased, and science-based evaluation, this will encourage improving current equipment and foster the creation of the next generation of technology. Some specific examples are given below

  • Improvements to the respiratory protection of emergency responders will be enabled by the development of modeling tools, experiments, and instrumentation to characterize the environments internal and external to a fire fighter’s respiratory mas
  • Fire fighter/occupant locator systems offer the ability to track emergency responders and occupants inside structures.  Draft performance metrics and testing protocols will allow industry to develop technology that is responsive to fire service needs. 
  • Fire and chemical environment at the fire scene will be characterized to better understand the exposure of fire fighters, arson investigators, and building occupants, which will enable solutions to prevent adverse health effects
  • Tactical decision aids including structural integrity will create a basis for more informed emergency responders and better and safer response to emergencies in buildings. 
  • Hose streams will be characterized, performance metrics will be developed, and testing methods evaluated and this will enable more effective extinguishment of fires
  • Accessible training tools, including release of Smokeview 6 that accurately represent fire environments and actions will improve training for firefighters
  • Science-based standards for thermal imaging cameras, respirators, protective clothing, locator/tracking systems, and tactical decision aids will allow performance to be evaluated and will enable development of innovative technology
  • Based on NIST measurement science on building panels, National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) and/or National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) will be able to adopt standard format and prioritization of displays,  which will enable the fire service to access and exploit building information for tactical decisions

How will knowledge transfer be achieved?  Knowledge and results from the program will be disseminated to customers and stakeholders through archival journal articles, conference proceedings (papers & posters),  CD/DVD media,[14] web sites,[15] reports on the web through BFRL’s Research Information Service[16] downloadable software[17] and participation in fire service  conferences,[18] technical conferences,[19] workshops, standards[20], codes, and technical committee meetings.   Guest workers from the fire service and authorities having jurisdiction (AHJ) and post-docs from universities will allow exchange of experience and knowledge. Customer and stakeholder feedback continues to be monitored by the Program Manage and ey stakeholders are supportive of NIST research.  NIOSH National Personal Protective Technology Laboratory is supportive of high temperature exposure metrics for respirators and improved testing protocols for PASS device alarm signal performance.  IAFF is supportive of research involving improved protective clothing.  IAFC is supportive of the work to transfer research results to the fire service via FIRE.GOV.  NFPA has been collaborating with BFRL on positive pressure ventilation, protective clothing, thermal imaging cameras, and high temperature exposure of radios and respiratory masks. 

[1 Hall, J., The Total Cost Of Fire In The United States National Fire Protection Association, Quincy, MA, 2008

[2 NFIRS database, 2006, National Fire Incident Reporting System

[3 Donnelly, M.K., Davis, W.D., Lawson,  J.R., and Selepak, M.J., Thermal Environment for Electronic Equipment Used by First Responders, Technical Note 1474, National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD,  January 2006, 43 p

[4 National Research Agenda SymposiumReport of the National Fire Service Research Agenda Symposium June 1 – 3, 2005 Emmitsburg, Maryland

[5 International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC), International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF), National Voluntary Fire Council (NVFC), Department of Homeland Security (DHS), United States Fire Administration (USFA)

[6 Innovative Fire Protection Workshop, June 4-5, 2009, National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD

[7 Walton, W.D.; Bryner, N.P.; Madrzykowski, D.; Lawson, J.R.; Jason, N.H., “Fire Research Needs Workshop Proceedings, San Antonio, Texas, October 13-15, 1999”, NISTIR 6538; National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD, 47 p. July 2000

[8 Walton, W.D.; Bryner, N.P.; Jason, N.H., “Fire Research Needs Workshop Proceedings, Emmitsburg, Maryland, October 20, 1999”, NISTIR 6539; National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD, 19 p. July 2000

[9 NFPA 1981, Standard on Open-Circuit Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA) for Emergency Services

[10 NFPA 1852, Standard on Selection, Care, and Maintenance of Protective Ensembles for Structural Fire Fighting and Proximity Fire Fighting

[11 NFPA 1710 Standard for the Organization and Deployment of Fire Suppression Operations, Emergency Medical Operations, and Special Operations to the Public by Career Fire Departments

[12 NFPA 1720 Standard for the Organization and Deployment of Fire Suppression Operations, Emergency Medical Operations and Special Operations to the Public by Volunteer Fire Departments

[13 National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 1800 Electronic Safety Equipment Committee

[14 CD/DVD Media – in technical conferences (Fire Department Instructors Conference and Fire and Rescue International), workshops, standards, codes, and technical committee meetings(NFPA and ASTM

[15 Websites www.nist.go/el &

[16 Reports on Web at Building and Fire Research Information Service

[17 Downloadable Software

[18 Fire Service Conferences – Fire Department Instructors Conference (FDIC) and Fire and Rescue International (FRI)

[19 Technical Conferences –  The International Society for Optical Engineerin (SPIE), International Association for Fire Safety Science(IAFSS), InterFLAM, BFRL Annual Fire Conference, and Combustion Institute

[20 NFPA 1801, Standard for Thermal Imagers for Fire Fighters has been accepted by the Electronic Safety Equipment Committe

Major Accomplishments:

Outcomes:   Progress in this Program is measured in terms of feedback from stakeholders, in standards development, papers published in archival journals and conference proceedings, and collaborations with other agencies.  Examples of recent progress and results include:

Infrared Imager Technology

  • Output – Research results have been accepted for publication in Fire Safety Journal, Journal for Information Displays, and Fire Technology in addition to 13 papers[1] in conference proceedings.
  • Outcome – Laboratory facility capable of evaluating performance of thermal imaging cameras.
  • Impact- National Fire Protection Association 1801 Standard for Thermal Imagers for First Responders incorporated all performance metrics and standard testing protocols developed and recommended by Amon, Lock, and Bryner.

Automatic Sprinklers

  • Impact- DVD video and report on Impact of Sprinklers on the Fire Hazard in Dormitories released as part of US Fire Administration initiative to improve fire safety in college housing, January 2010
  • Output- Supplement 3 for Automatic Sprinkler Systems for Residential Occupancies Handbook, March 2010.

Positive Pressure Ventilation

  • Output -Positive Pressure Ventilation Research Video and Reports:[2]  7 reports, 24 hours of video, and a slide presentation distributed in a 2 DVD set, over 10,000 DVDs were distributed in the first three months after release.
  • Output – Seven years of positive pressure ventilation research summarized in Go with the Flow published in Fire and Rescue Magazine, November 2009.
  • Output- Wind-Driven Fire Research – Hazards and Tactics published in Fire Engineering Journal March 2010
  • Impact- Standard operating procedures for positive pressure ventilation fans and wind-driven fires have been improved for many fire departments as a result of the NIST measurement science work, including the fire departments of New York City and Chicago (the two largest fire departments in the U.S.).

Fire Fighter Protective Clothing           

  • Output -Database demonstrates insufficient transmission through NEW or AGED Outer Shell to cause UV induce degradation of Thermal Liner or Moisture Barrier
  • Outer Shell exhibits significant photolytic degradation (oxidative and/or hydrolytic)
  • Output-Experimental data indicates 85% decrease in Tear Resistance and Break Resistance (NFPA 1971 performance requirements) after 100 days in the field
  • Output- Davis, R. Chin J R, Chin J, Lin C, Sylvain P. Effect of Accelerated Ultraviolet (UV) Weathering on Firefighter Protective Clothing Outer Shell Fabrics, NIST Technical Note 1657, February 2010.
  • Output -Davis R, Chin J, Lin C, Nazare S. Accelerate Aging of Polyaramid and Polybenzimidazole Firefighter Protective Clothing Fabrics, Polymer Degradation and Stability, in press August 2010.


Characterization of Fire Fighter Respirators

  • Output – Butler, K.M., “A Computational Model of an Outward Leak from a Closed-Circuit Breathing Device,” Journal of the International Society for Respiratory Protection, 25:53-65, 2008.
  • Output -Workshop, “Real-Time Monitoring of Total Inward Leakage of Respiratory Equipment Used by Emergency Responders,” 1 May 2009.Output – Butler, K.M., “Using 3D Head and Respirator Shapes to Analyze Respirator Fit,” to be presented at HCI International 2009, 2009, San Diego, CA, 19-24 July 2009.
  • Outcome –Steady-flow experiments were completed to demonstrate that negative facepiece pressure in the presence of a leak correlates very well with protection factor. 
  • Outcome -An experimental facility consisting of a breathing simulator, test head, firefighter SCBA, aerosol generator, and pressure sensor assembled to study pressure drop and protection factor from three leak sizes. 
  • Outcome -Flow and pressure fields over two breathing cycles were obtained for the 3D geometry representing the interior spaces bounded by a half mask respirator and a human head and an SCBA nosecup and a human head.
  • Output – Butler K.M., Nyden, M.R., Bryant, R.A., “Real-Time Monitoring of Total Inward Leakage of Respiratory Equipment Used by Emergency Responders:  Workshop Proceedings,” NIST SP, in WERB.
  • Output – Conducted simulated breathing experiments to demonstrate that momentary negative pressure conditions in an SCBA facepiece result in reduced respiratory protection
  • Output- R. Bryant,” Predicting Inward Leakage for Negative Pressure Conditions in a Firefighter Respirator,” to be presented at the 12th International Conference on Fire Science and Engineering (Interflam), Nottingham, England, 05-07 July, 2010.


Locator/Tracker Technology

  • Output: Host workshop session and working group on evaluation of locator/tracking systems at annual WPI Precision Personnel Location Systems Workshop, Aug., 2010. 
  • Output: Saidi, K., Franaszek, M., preliminary development of technology-independent test methods for location and tracking systems, May, 2010.
  • Output:Amon, F., Lock, A., Saidi, K., “Representative Environments in which to Evaluate First Responder Location and Tracking Systems”, in process, May, 2010.
  • Output:  Bryner, N., “Needs assessment for Fire Service use of physiological monitoring”, presentation to DHS Science and Technology, Workshop on Physiological Health Assessment Systems for Emergency Responders (PHASER), Mar., 2009.


Performance Metrics for Critical Electronic Equipment for Emergency Responders

  • Outcome:  Capability to expose small electronic equipment to temperatures up to 300 ºC while monitoring functionality.
  • Output: Donnelly, M.K., “Performance of Thermal Imaging Cameras in High Temperature Environments”, NIST Technical Note 1491, National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD 14 p. November 2007.
  • Impact: Recommendations on performance of imagers exposed to challenging environmental conditions incorporated into NFPA 1801: Standard on Thermal Imagers for the Fire Service by the NFPA technical committee.
  • Computer Based Fire Fighter Trainer
  • Output -Madrzykowski, D., Fatal Training Fires: Fire Analysis for the Fire Service.  International Interflam Conference, 11th Proceedings. September 3-5, 2007, London, England, 1169-1180 pp, 2007.
  • Output -Forney, G.P., User’s Guide for Smokeview Version 5: A Tool for Visualizing Fire Dynamics Simulation Data.  NIST Special Publication 1017-1, August 2007.
  • Output – interactive framework developed and Beta tested
  • Output – 20 full-scale townhouse experiments conducted in collaboration with the Chicago Fire Department and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms for validation of FDS based training tool.  March 2010.

Fire Environment

  • Output- conducted series of full-scale flashover tests to collect data on fire environment and exposure of personal protective gear

Hose Stream

  • Output- series of eight multi-compartment fire experiments were conducted in the Large Fire Laboratory to examine the impact on the fire and the ventilation conditions within the compartments. 
  • Output –conduct twenty full-scale townhouse experiments in collaboration with the Chicago Fire Department and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.  Three types of hose streams were examined: fog, straight stream and solid stream. March 2010.
  • Outcome- A first order fire suppression model with water has been developed and is being incorporated into FDS.  Validation of this model against full scale test data is underway and the report is being developed with completion planned by August 2010.



Recognition of BFRL:   The projects of AFST provide BFRL with high visibility within the fire service community because the projects get BFRL research directly into the hands of our stakeholders, in particular, the fire service, fire protection engineers, standards development organizations, and fire equipment manufacturers.  The positive pressure ventilation work was reported on local TV (Chicago and NY) and national networks (ABC & FOX).  Positive pressure ventilation research has also been on the web at and  Burn pattern research results have been highlighted in presentations on  BFRL has taken a leadership role that is recognized internationally for technology and standards that will enable the transfer of emergency information from buildings to the fire service.  This role may be expanded through DHS funding to the greater public safety community.  BFRL’s work to develop measurement standards for thermal imagers is the only known effort for thermal imagers focused on addressing firefighter needs in the world. 


Amon, F., Hamins, A., Bryner, N., Rowe, J.; “Meaningful Performance Evaluation Conditions for Fire Service Thermal Imaging Cameras”; Fire Safety Journal.

Dinaburg, J., Amon, F., Hamins, A., Boynton, P.; “Performance of Liquid Crystal Displays for Fire Service Thermal Imaging Cameras”; Journal of the Society for Information Displays, vol 26(6), 2008.

Amon, F., Ducharme, A.; “Image Frequency Analysis for Testing of Fire Service Thermal Imaging Cameras”; Fire Technology.

Amon, F., Bryner, N.; “Measurement of effective temperature range of fire service thermal imaging cameras”; Proceedings of SPIE Security + Defense International Symposium; Mar. 2008.

Lock, A., Amon, F., Hamins, A.; “Practical Measurement and Analysis of the Nonuniformity of Thermal Imaging Cameras for First Responders”; Proceedings of SPIE Security + Defense International Symposium; Mar. 2008.

Neira, J., Rice, J., Amon, F.; “Development of Infrared Scene Projectors for Fire Fighter Thermal Imaging Cameras”; Proceedings of SPIE Security + Defense International Symposium; Mar. 2008.

Lock, A., Amon, F.; “Measurement of the Nonuniformity of First Responder Thermal Imaging Cameras”;

IAFSS Symposium, 9th, paper no 164; Sept. 2008.

Amon, F., Lock, A., Bryner, N.; “Suite of proposed imaging performance metrics and test methods for fire service thermal imaging cameras”; Proceedings of SPIE Security + Defense International Symposium; Mar. 2008.

Lock, A., Amon, F., Hamins, A.; “Application of Spatial Frequency Response as a Criteria for Evaluating Thermal Imaging Camera Performance”; Proceedings of SPIE Security + Defense International Symposium; Mar. 2008.

Amon, F., Hamins, A., Rowe, J., “First responder thermal imaging cameras: establishment of representative performance testing conditions”, Proceedings of International Society for Optical Engineering (SPIE), Defense and Security Symposium, Thermosense XXVIII, Vol. 6205-37, Orlando, FL, April 2006.

Amon, F., Hamins, A., “First responder thermal imaging cameras: development of performance metrics and test methods”, Proceedings of International Society for Optical Engineering (SPIE), Defense and Security Symposium, Infrared Imaging Systems: Design, Analysis, and Testing XVII, edited by G. Holst, Vol. 6207-28, Orlando, FL, April 2006.

Dinaburg, J., Amon, F., Hamins, A., Boynton, P., “LCD display screen performance testing for handheld thermal imaging cameras”, Proceedings of International Society for Optical Engineering (SPIE), Defense and Security Symposium, Infrared Imaging Systems: Design, Analysis, and Testing XVII, edited by G. Holst, Vol. 6207-29, Orlando, FL, April 2006.

Amon, F., Bryner, N., “Advances in thermal imaging technology in the first responder arena”, Proceedings of International Society for Optical Engineering (SPIE), Defense and Security Symposium, Infrared Imaging Systems: Design, Analysis, and Testing XVII, edited by G. Holst, Vol. 6207-32, Orlando, FL, April 2006.

Amon, F., Bryner, N., Hamins, A., “Thermal Imaging Needs for First Responders: Workshop Proceedings”, NIST SP 1040, National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD, June 2005.

Amon, F., Benetis, V., Kim, J., Hamins, A., “Development of a Performance Evaluation Facility for Fire Fighting Thermal Imagers”, Proceedings of International Society for Optical Engineering (SPIE), Defense and Security Symposium, Infrared Imaging Systems: Design, Analysis, and Testing XV, edited by G. Holst, Vol. 5407, Orlando, FL, April 2004.

Amon, F., Bryner, N., Hamins, A., “Evaluation of Thermal Imaging Cameras Used in Fire Fighting Applications”, Proceedings of International Society for Optical Engineering (SPIE), Defense and Security Symposium, Infrared Imaging Systems: Design, Analysis, and Testing XV, edited by G. Holst, Vol. 5407, Orlando, FL, April 2004.

[2] Positive Pressure Ventilation Research: videos and Reports- two dual layer DVDs in set, available from website .


Start Date:

October 1, 2010

Lead Organizational Unit:


Dan Madrzykowski
Fire Research Division
EL fire protection engineers use an abandoned New York City brick high-rise as a seven-story fire laboratory to better understand the fastmoving spread of wind-driven flames, smoke and toxic gases through corridors and stairways of burning buildings.
EL fire protection engineers use an abandoned New York City brick high-rise as a seven-story fire laboratory to better understand the fastmoving spread of wind-driven flames, smoke and toxic gases through corridors and stairways of burning buildings.

Filed Under: Anatomy of BuildingsFire Protection EngineeringScience & Technology


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