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Modelling a Backdraft Incident: The 62 Watts Street (New York) Fire.

pdf icon Modelling a Backdraft Incident: The 62 Watts Street (New York) Fire. (487 K)
Bukowski, R. W.

Institution of Fire Engineers; University of Sunderland; Fire Research Station; CIB W14; Tyne and Wear Metropolitan Fire Brigade. Fire Safety by Design. Conference Proceedings. Volume 2. Case Studies and Workshop Reports. July 10-12, 1995, UK, 77-82 pp, 1995.

Fire Engineers Journal, Vol. 56, No. 185, 14-17, November 1996.


fire safety; safety engineering; backdraft; fire fatalities; fire fighters; fire models; apartments; smoke; heat release rate; oxygen concentration; predictive models; temperature; computer models; casualties; smoke; 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 at a three-story apartment building in Manhattan. The officer in charge ordered three person hose teams to make entry into 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 issued from the apartment and up the stairway, engulfing the three fire fighters at the second-floor landing. The flame persisted for at least 6 1/2 minutes, resulting in their deaths. The FDNY requested the assistance of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to model the incident in the hope of understanding the factors which produced a backdraft condition of such a duration. The CFAST model was able to reproduce the observed conditions and supported a theory of the accumulation of significant quantities of unburned fuel from a vitiated fire in an apartment which had been insulated and sealed for energy efficiency.