Roles of Fire Dynamics Simulator in Fire Safety Engineering

In designing a building, fire safety is one of the most important aspects that should be carefully considered. With the advancement in technology, the development and application of fire dynamics simulator (FDS) has been proven to be essential in creating safer environment. Developed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), FDS has become an invaluable resource for fire safety engineers, researchers, and professionals seeking to understand and mitigate the impact of fires in various settings. In this article, we will discuss about the significance, functionality, and applications of FDS in comprehending and mitigating the risks associated with fires.


What is FDS?

According to NIST, Fire Dynamics Simulator or FDS is a computational fluid dynamics (CFD) model designed to simulate the dynamics of fire-driven fluid flows. Unlike traditional fire modelling tools, FDS goes beyond simplistic approximations, providing a detailed and realistic representation of fire behaviour in three-dimensional space. It takes into account a wide range of factors, including the geometry of structures, heat release rates, ventilation conditions, and the combustion of different materials.


FDS Key Features and Capabilities

As a fire modelling tool, FDS has several key features and capabilities, including:

  1. Realistic Fire Simulation

FDS excels in creating realistic fire scenarios by considering the fundamental principles of fluid dynamics, combustion, and heat transfer. This enables users to visualize how fires spread, interact with their surroundings, and evolve over time. You can watch one of our videos to show how FDS can provide a realistic fire scenario.



You may access this video through this link.


  1. Complex Geometry Modelling

One of FDS's strengths lies in its ability to handle intricate geometries. It can simulate fires in buildings with multiple rooms, corridors, stairwells, and other complex structures, providing a more accurate representation of real-world setups and scenarios.




One of our video, Fire in an LRT Station Video. As we all know, the geometry of an LRT Station is quite complex. From this video, we can see how FDS shows the fire behave in accordance with the assigned heat release rate which obtained from the study and how the smoke behaves in accordance to the station’s complex geometry.


  1. Ventilation and Smoke Control

FDS allows users to analyse the effects of ventilation systems and smoke control measures on fire behaviour. This is crucial for designing structures that prioritize occupant safety and facilitate effective evacuation strategies.


  1. Heat Release Rate (HRR) Modelling

FDS takes into account the varying heat release rates of different materials during combustion. This feature is essential for understanding how different building materials and contents contribute to the intensity and spread of a fire. The figure below shows the HRR of the fire simulation in Point 2. This figure shows us how the fire grows over time.


HRR for fire scenario in LRT Station.

  1. Validation and Verification

NIST has extensively validated and verified FDS through experimental data, ensuring the model's accuracy and reliability. This makes FDS a trustworthy tool for fire safety professionals and researchers.


FDS Applications and Usage

  • Building Design and Fire Safety

FDS can be used to assess and enhance the fire safety of buildings. By simulating fire scenarios, we can optimize evacuation routes, assess the performance of fire protection system, and design structures (e.g., fire resistance rating) that minimize the impact of fires


  • Emergency Response Planning (related to ASET-RSET)

Emergency response teams use FDS to simulate fire under various scenarios and environments, which allowing them to develop effective strategies for managing and mitigating the impact of fires.


  • Forensic Fire Investigation

    FDS plays a crucial role in forensic fire investigation. Investigators can recreate the conditions of a fire to analyse its origin and progression, which can help them to determine the cause and contributing factors.


Written by
Fitri Endrasari



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