NIST Time|NIST Home|About NIST|Contact NIST

HomeAll Years:AuthorKeywordTitle2005-2010:AuthorKeywordTitle

Modeling a Backdraft: The Fire at 62 Watts Street.

pdf icon Modeling a Backdraft: The Fire at 62 Watts Street. (6692 K)
Bukowski, R. W.

NFPA Journal, Vol. 89, No. 6, 85-89, November/December 1995.


backdraft; fire fatalities; fire fighters; fire models; apartments; smoke; heat release rate; oxygen concentration; temperature; computer models; casualties; safety; ventilation; building fires


On March 28, 1994, the New York City Fire Department responded to a report of smoke and sparks issuing from a chimney of a three-story apartment building in Manhattan. The officer in charge ordered three-person hose teams to enter the first- and second-floor apartments while the truck company ventilated the stairway from the roof. When the door to the first-floor apartment was forced open, a large flame shot out of the apartment and up the stairway, engulfing three fire fighters on the second-floor landing. The flame lasted for at least 6 1/2 minutes, killing the three men. In the hope of understanding the factors that produced a backdraft of such duration, the fire department asked the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to model the incident.