Comparison of Dry Tree Fire With and Without a Sprinkler System

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USFA partnered with the National Institute of Standards and Technology's (NIST) Building and Fire Research Laboratory to illustrate on video the dramatic affects of fire when it ignites a dry Scotch Pine Tree. Within three seconds of ignition, the dry Scotch pine is completely ablaze. At five seconds, the fire extends up the tree and black smoke with searing gases streaks across the ceiling. Fresh air near the floor feeds the fire. The sofa, coffee table, and the carpet ignite prior to any flame contact. Within 40 seconds, "flashover" - when an entire room erupts into flames, oxygen is depleted and dense, deadly toxic smoke engulfs the scene - occurs.

Christmas Tree Fire Video Presentation

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This Dry Scotch Pine Tree video has been shown on television stations and Internet sites (including USFA's website) and in training classes across the nation and around the world. As a result of the video's popularity and success in communicating such an important fire prevention message, multiple requests have been made by fire service officials to develop a report and video that document the impact of a residential fire sprinkler system on a similar tree fire. As a result of these requests, USFA and NIST partnered to develop a report and video demonstrating the impact of a residential sprinkler system on a dry tree that is on fire.

The project's final report, Impact of a Residential Sprinkler on the Heat Release Rate of a Christmas Tree Fire (PDF, 633 Kb), contains data from a sprinklered room experiment. It demonstrates that even under conditions of extreme fire growth, a single sprinkler was able to prevent flashover, control the tree fire, and limit the spread of fire to other objects. In addition, properly maintaining a cut tree is important to retaining high moisture content in the needles of the tree, which will limit accidental ignition and prevent rapid flame spread. The following five videos further demonstrate these report findings.

As fire marshals, fire chiefs, and other fire service officials across the nation are working to promote and advance residential fire sprinklers, this report and these videos could be an extremely useful tool in demonstrating the advantages of home fire sprinkler systems.

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Dry Tree Fire without a Sprinkler System

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Dry Tree Fire with a Sprinkler System

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Dry Tree vs. High Moisture Tree Fire

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