International Training Conference & Expo


Impact of an HVAC System on Fire Growth and Development

Thursday, April 14, 2022 (1:00pm – 5:00pm) (Ballroom 6)

UL FSRI has conducted a series of fire experiments in structures built with current construction practices and materials including insulation in the walls and ceiling, house wrap, exterior siding, and an HVAC system.  Experiments included HVAC supply vents located in either the ceiling or the floor.  Three different HVAC air flow conditions were examined: no flow, full flow, and flow with an air filter.  All of the experiments were conducted with the exterior doors and windows closed at the time of ignition.   Photos, videos, and graphs of data will be presented to examine the flow paths, ventilation limits, fire damage, and the changes in fire environment throughout the structure.  The existence of patterns in the area of origin, post flashover, will also be discussed.


Learning Objectives:

  1. To understand the difference between a fuel limited fire, a ventilation limited fire, and the transitions between them.

  2. Examine heat release rates of furnishings and the amount of oxygen required to support those heat release rates. 

  3. To define flow paths with regard to structure fires and learn how exhaust and intake flows impact where flaming combustion can exist.

  4. To assess where and when oxygen is available in a structure to support flaming combustion as well as when and where flaming combustion cannot be supported.

  5. Evaluate the potential impact of an HVAC system on the fire growth and development in a  structure.

Daniel Madrzykowski

Dan Madrzykowski

Dan is director of research with UL FSRI.  Throughout his career, he has conducted fire investigation related studies in a wide range of areas including firefighter line of duty deaths, the post-earthquake fires in Kobe, Japan, oil field fires in Kuwait, the Station Night Club fire, and the Cook County Administration Building fire in Chicago.  He has a PhD in Fire Engineering from the University of Canterbury.  Dan is a member of the NFPA, the IAAI and a Fellow of the SFPE.  He has assisted with the review and development of several NFA and CFITrainer.net courses involving fire dynamics.