NIST’s full-scale house fire test was performed using a two-story, single-family home constructed with a wood frame. Walls and ceilings were built from gypsum wallboard. The home had four bedrooms, two baths, basement and attached garage. Hardwood flooring was installed throughout the home, except for vinyl flooring in areas where you would normally expect, like the kitchen and bathrooms.
Two walls in the living were covered with laminated pine paneling. The home was furnished as many homes are often furnished. Along with a mixture of gasoline and two-cycle engine fuel for a liquid accelerant, the furnishings were chosen with the intent of fueling the fire that was set in the home’s living room.
NIST’s test was conducted under controlled conditions to mimic what exactly happens during a home fire. The initial fire was set by igniting an open book of matches in the living room couch.
This fire quickly spread to ignite the liquid accelerant that was poured in the room. Temperatures throughout the room were monitored by special thermocouples placed from floor to ceiling in the living room and adjacent dining room.