Fire forensics are critical to a fire investigation and are used to evaluate arson scenarios and determine origin and cause of fires and explosions. A typical fire investigation requires detailed documentation of the fire scene and analysis of material flammability, fire spread, and ignition of a variety of combustible material found at the scene. Modernization of homes, buildings and infrastructure have introduced new materials and technologies into the built environment. Fire investigators are tasked with the challenge of understanding the role these innovations may play in a fire. Our research includes development and validation of new fire forensic methods and fire characterization of new materials and technologies. The goal of our work is to develop scientific-based forensic tools and improve fire investigation analysis techniques.  

Ceiling damage due to a 200 kW fire plume

Damage to ceiling during 200 kW fire test in Burn Structure (top), total energy flux to the ceiling predicted using Bayesian inversion compared to actual location of the fire (bottom right), 200 kW fire plume simulated using Fire Dynamics Simulator (FDS) (bottom left).

Location of Fire

Simulation of a 200 kW fire plume in the burn structre
Correlation between location of the fire an predictd enrgy fux to the ceiling using Bayesan inversion




FIRE ORIGIN             and CAUSE

Researcher: Andrew Kurzawski

The modern fire investigator uses fire patterns, damage, debris collection, and witness interviews combined with an understanding of fire dynamics to characterize the scene and test hypotheses on how and where the fire started and how it progressed. This work focuses on using inversion methods to determine the location and size of an unknown fire in a room using time-integrated heat flux data and two well known fire models. The framework leverages Bayesian inversion techniques which have the advantage of including uncertainty information on predictions that is conditional on the data collected by the fire investigator and depends on any prior knowledge they wish to include.