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Impact of a Residential Sprinkler on the Heat Release Rate of a Christmas Tree Fire.

pdf icon Impact of a Residential Sprinkler on the Heat Release Rate of a Christmas Tree Fire. (648 K)
Madrzykowski, D.

NISTIR 7506; 25 p. May 2008.


Department of Homeland Security, Washington, DC


sprinklers; residential buildings; heat release rate; impact; fire prevention; heat flux; mass loss; experiments; moisture content; ignition; compartments; matches; fire growth; flashover; weather effects; temperature


Although the number of Christmas tree fires is low, these fires carry a higher level of hazard than other fires that occur in a residential structure. This study, supported by the U. S. Fire Administration, has the following three objectives: 1) characterize the heat release rate of dry Fraser fir trees 2) demonstrate the ignition resistance of a tree with a high moisture content and 3) examine the impact of a residential sprinkler on the heat release rate of a dry tree that is on fire in a compartment. The heat release rates of the trees which were allowed to dry ranged from 3.2 MW to 4.3 MW. Trees that were kept in water, so that the needles maintained a moisture content in excess of 100%, self-extinguished after being exposed to a flaming book of matches. The data from the furnished sprinklered room experiment demonstrated that even under conditions of extreme fire growth, a single sprinkler was able to prevent flashover and limit the spread of fire to other objects. The peak heat release rate, from the sprinklered room, was limited to approximately 1.8 MW. The furnished non-sprinklered room experiment generated a post-flashover heat release rate in excess of 6 MW.