ENFP 425 - Fire Modeling

 (3 credits)

Computer model of a fire courtesy of Prof. TrouveFIRE Center Sponsor: Poole Fire Protection, Inc.


  • Permission from the Department
  • Senior standing


  • Karlsson, B., and J.G. Quintiere, Enclosure Fire Dynamics, CRC Press LLC, Boca Raton, 2000.
  • Extensive course notes are also distributed to students.

Computer model of a fire courtesy of Prof. TrouveCourse Description

  • This course is an introduction to enclosure fire dynamics through the development of fire modeling algorithms and the application of computer-based fire modeling techniques.

Learning Outcomes

This course provides:

  • A basic understanding of enclosure fire dynamics with an emphasis on a system-level viewpoint (i.e., a global description of the coupling between combustion dynamics, smoke filling, vent flows and wall thermal losses)
  • An introduction to the zone modeling approach and to the zone modeling software products used by professional engineers to simulate a building response to a fire event

Topics Covered

Computer model of a heat flow courtesy of Prof. TrouveEnclosure fire dynamics

  • Introduction to enclosure fire dynamics: gas stratification and the formation of a smoke layer; fire growth and the possible transition to flashover and under-ventilated combustion; introduction to the two different approaches to computer-based fire modeling: zone modeling and CFD modeling.
  • Mass and energy conservation and application to the two-layer description adopted in zone models. Compartment pressure dynamics.
  • Combustion dynamics: fuel-limited and oxygen-limited combustion regimes; pre-flashover and post-flashover fire regimes; the concept of a global equivalence ratio; the concept of species yields to characterize the smoke layer composition and toxic emissions from the fire.
  • Fuel sources: the concept of design fires; review of current methods/data to characterize the fire loads.
  • Fire plumes: flame height correlations; ideal buoyant plume theory; extension to fire plumes; implications for zone models.
  • Smoke filling: ceiling jet theory and activation of heat/smoke detectors; smoke venting systems.
  • Vent flows: natural ventilation theory; stack effect in tall buildings; application to vent flows in compartment fires and smoke transport in buildings.
  • Heat transfer processes: convective heat transfer; classical description of radiation exchanges between gray and diffuse surfaces in enclosures (with participating medium); coupled gas-solid heat transfer and description of wall heat losses in compartment fires; fire loading on building structure.

Zone modeling

  •     Mathematical formulation of zone models: governing equations; input data (design fire, material thermal properties, species yields, etc)
  •     Numerical integration of the zone modeling equations (MATLAB)
  •     Introduction to zone modeling software used by professional engineers (e.g., CFAST or equivalent)