Fire Dynamics Simulator (FDS) is a computer program that was developed many years ago by NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology). FDS uses computational fluid dynamics (CFD) to simulate smoke spread, and fire and heat spread. FDS was originally used to help model and design smoke control systems and sprinkler/detector activation for fire protection engineering, but has become widely used as a forensic engineering, fire reconstruction tool.
FDS has been used to model high-profile fires, such as the Rhode Island nightclub fire and the attacks on the World Trade Center, and has a well-documented library and history of validation by third parties. With the increase and rise in computer power since its public release in 2000, FDS has become an incredibly powerful and reasonably fast program to run.
At the heart of FDS is a Fortran program that requires the input of a text file to define building geometry, walls, location of smoke detectors/sprinklers, and ignition or heat release rates. The program also outputs another file that is post-processed or visualized in a GUI (Graphical User Interface) called “Smokeview”.
FDS can be useful in forensic engineering or analysis of fire reconstruction to determine:
- if a different arrangement or numbers of sprinklers would have affected fire/smoke spread;
- if a different arrangement or numbers of smoke detectors would have affected alarm time;
- if smoke stops or different building features would have affected smoke or fire spread;
- if increased or decreased amounts of ventilation would have affected fire growth and spread; and
- the timeline of fire and smoke spread.
When your case requires fire modeling, ARCCA’s engineers have experience with and are qualified to use Fire Dynamics Simulator and Smokeview.