Bowie Laboratory

Fire Engineering and Thermal Sciences Lab

Firefighters work to extinguish flames.  Exponent fire protection engineering helps create fire prevention strategies.

For Your Most Complex Fire Tests and Analyses

Our Bowie Fire Engineering and Thermal Sciences (FETS) Laboratory in Maryland can help your products, facilities, and systems pass tough fire and explosion test standards. Our scientists and engineers help you understand the root causes, identify fire and explosion risks, and put systems in place to prevent/address them.

Fire Protection Engineering​ [TS]

From In-house Testing to Onsite Inspections

Using specialized equipment, our experts can determine the material fire properties of products ranging from furniture and mattress components to wall covering materials and electrical wire/cable coverings. Our team of licensed professional engineers (PEs) and certified fire and explosion investigators (CFEIs) performs onsite inspections and consults with manufacturers on optimizing fire suppression systems and combustion systems.  

More on thermal science services

Bowie Laboratory: Methods, Capabilities, and Equipment 

To supplement analytical, experimental, and field-based activities, our team uses computational fluid dynamic (CFD) modeling to create an accurate simulation of the burning material, support fire origin and cause determinations in the forensic environment, and provide performance-based evaluations of industrial applications.  

Other analysis includes flash point testing, UL 94 burn testing for plastic components, and flammability testing cabinets for clothing and textiles.

The FETS Lab also performs in-house overhead research in areas such as smoke alarms to further the development of fire protection engineering. 


  • Heat release rate and mass loss rate 

  • Intermediate-scale calorimetry 

  • Smoke and heat detector testing 

  • Flash point and fire point testing 

  • Fabric and textile flammability testing 

  • Upholstered furniture and mattress component and mock-up testing 

  • Pressure and leak testing 

  • Thermal hazard testing 

  • Hot surface ignition testing 

  • Customized testing scenarios 

  • Accident reconstruction 

Equipment and Instrumentation 

  • Cone calorimeter 

  • Oxygen consumption calorimetry 

  • Product/material comparison 

  • Measurements 

  • Heat release rate (HRR) 

  • Mass loss rate (MLR) 

  • Effective heat of combustion (∆Hc) 

  • Critical heat flux 

  • Ignition time 

  • Smoke production rate 

  • CO/CO2 production rates/yields 

  • Flammability test cabinets 

  • 45° flammability test 

  • Vertical flammability test 

  • Horizontal flammability test 

  • Full-scale textile flammability tests 

  • Flame Spread 

  • UL 94: test for flammability of plastic materials for parts in devices and appliances 

  • Exhaust hood system 

  • Intermediate-scale fire tests 

  • Capable of handling fires up to 500 kW in size 

  • Pressure and flow testing rigs 

  • Furnace 

  • Convection and vacuum ovens 

  • Environmental chamber 

  • Mass and volumetric flow rates 

  • Velocity measuring 

  • Thermocouples and heat-flux transducers 

  • Data acquisition systems 

  • Infrared (IR) thermometry 

  • Smoke and particulate analysis 

Exponent Labs and Facilities