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Educating and training students to be experts and leaders



Fire is one of man's oldest technologies. Although fire has been a driving force behind the development of our modern society, it continues to be one of society's great destructive forces. We design systems to harness fire so that we can heat our homes, cook our food, power our vehicles and generate energy. At any point, if we lose control, fire can turn from being productive to destructive. 


An entire fire industry exists to mitigate the impact of fire. This fire ecosystem in the built environment includes manufactures, organizations, researchers, the fire service and insurance companies who strive to minimize the risk fire poses to people inhabiting buildings and our built infrastructure.


Our research at the University of Texas at Austin touches on many of the interconnected parts of the fire ecosystem. Our student researchers work on a wide range of problems that include fire forensics, wildfires, community fire risk and loss assessments, and firefighter safety. Through our work we hope to develop a deeper understanding of fire and the effects of fire on our community, and strive to train and mentor the future generation of fire scientists and engineers. 

Colored Flames. Different colored flames can be produced by adding specific chemicals to flammable liquids. Organic solvents such as dimethyl carbonate produce soot-free flames and burn blue. Adding boric acid, typically used in insecticides, to methanol produces a green flame. 

Firefigher helmet damaged by heat



Radiation. Radiation from a fire is one of the main driving force behind fire spread. A fire damaged firefighter helmet worn during a joint UTFRG-Austin Fire Department testing program is shown.

Lithium-ion batteries have revolutionized the way we live, but recent incidents have shown how little we understand about their fire risks

Developing scientific methods to determine origin and cause of fires is key in advancing fire resistance in the built environment and reducing fire risk to occupants

Firefighters who risk their lives to protect our communities need advances and innovation in fire safety technology so that they can best protect both themselves and those they serve

With ongoing changes in climate, wildland fires are becoming more and more prevalent even in areas traditionally not conducive to wildland fire

Fire prevention starts with quantifying and understanding fire risks in individual homes and the community at large

Understanding how materials burn is the first step in developing sustainable, fire resistant buildings and products

Prescribed burn conducted in 2011 on a  30 acre field of Little Bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium) with patches of Prunus (genus) and Post Oak (Quercus stellata) in Batrop County, TX. UTFRG was a part of the multi-faceted research study coordinated by the Texas Forest Service and the Texas Army National Guard. UTFRG researchers designed and built a customized data collection system, and led the data collection and analysis efforts. 

Sprinkler fuses


Sprinkler Fuses.  Sprinkler fuses are used to automatically activate sprinklers in the event of a fire. The bulbs are installed in sprinkler heads and in normal conditions prevent the release of water through the sprinkler. In a fire, heat causes the liquid inside to expand and break the glass bulb releasing water. Sprinkler fuses are color coded to indicate the activation temperature of the liquid. 

Our work begins with our leadership identifying emerging and impactful areas of research

The core of our group is our students who push the envelope and explore the unknown

Our group expertise is built upon the success of our former students

We welcome collaboration with researchers and scientists domestic and abroad

Our work would not be possible without support from our sponsors and partners

Burn demonstration of a compartment fire conducted by UTFRG research staff with the Honolulu Fire Department and Exponent Failure Analysis Associates at an International Association of Arson Investigators (IAAI) training seminar in Honolulu, HI in 2016.  The 5-sided burn structure was arranged with furniture items to resemble a small study. The fire was ignited by a thermal failure of a Lithium-ion battery.

Gas analyzer rack



16 ft x 20 ft facility designed to burn large items at full scale

1,080 sq. ft. laboratory customized for fire-related small-scale experiments​

Fire laboratory equipped with specialized instruments to characterize material flammability​

State-of-the-art computational fire dynamics simulation codes that run on open-source platforms​




For any general inquiries, please fill in the following contact form:

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204 E. Dean Keeton St.

ETC 10.102

Austin, TX 78712​


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Interested in working with UTFRG? Please email your resume/CV to
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