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A History of Fire Testing by J. Randall Lawson

By J. Randall Lawson

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G. different gravity, different atmospheric pressure, and different gas concentrations) may eventually be required. A Look into the Distant Future of Fire Testing Like all things, the need for fire testing will ultimately come to an end. It will end gracefully as science and engineering develop uniquely crafted materials that will not burn. However, there may still be a need for some materials that have a combustible nature. With these materials the understanding of their properties, which would have come from fire testing, will come through rationalization by the intelligent machines that create the materials.

50 American Society for Testing and Materials, “E1995 Standard Test Method for Measurement of Smoke Obscuration Using a Conical Radiant Source in a Single Closed Chamber, With the Test Specimen Oriented Horizontally,” ASTM International, West Conshohocken, PA, 2004 25 Figure 4 NBS Smoke Chamber (left) & Sketch of Toxicity Test Chamber (right). From the earlier discussion, the fact that combustion products from fire are toxic has likely been known for thousands of years. However, many of the scientific tools and the knowledge needed to explain why smoke and combustion gases are toxic were not available until the 19th and 20th century.

28 Third Revolution in Fire Testing – Computer Data Collection/Analysis Tools The third revolution in fire testing (measurement technology) occurred in the last half of the twentieth century with the development of affordable desktop digital computers, data logging, computer aided data analysis, and scientifically based predictive models. Through acquisition of quantitative time-related data, digital computing has opened the theoretical world that provides insight into the subtle features of fire dynamics and provides a means for developing a greater understanding of fire test method performance.

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