Fire Protection Engineering

Fire protection engineering is the application of science and engineering principles to protect people and their environments from the destructive effects of fire.  These services specifically address fire dynamics and propagation, burning behavior of materials, and performance of fire protection equipment after an incident has occurred.


Exponent fire protection engineers have the following expertise:

  • Fire and explosion origin and cause investigation 
  • Fire spread analysis
  • Industrial process fire and explosion accident investigation
  • Hot works accidents
  • Fire suppression and fire alarm system documentation and data gathering
  • Fire suppression system failure analysis and investigations
    • Automatic fire sprinkler systems
    • Standpipe systems
    • Commercial kitchen suppression systems
    • Clean Agent/gaseous suppression systems
    • Fire Pump, Water Tank, Domestic/Municipal Supply system 
  • Fuel Gas (Natural Gas & Liquefied Petroleum Gas/propane) Systems and component failure analysis 
  • Inspection, Testing, & Maintenance (ITM) investigation
  • Fire alarm and detection systems failure analysis 
  • Passive fire protection/Spray-applied fire resistant material failure analysis and investigations
  • Building construction analysis and code consulting
  • Computational fluid dynamics modeling
  • Investigative bench-scale, intermediate-scale, and large-scale fire testing
  • Product reliability and flammability investigations

Our Team 

Exponent’s fire protection engineering professionals include Certified Fire Investigators (CFIs), Certified Fire and Explosion Investigators (CFEIs), Certified Vehicle Fire Investigators (CFVIs), Fire Investigation Technicians (IAAI-FITs), and Certified Building Officials (CBOs).  In addition, professionals have undergone Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response (HAZWOPER) training.  

Exponent professionals routinely perform investigations of small and large scale, complex, private, industrial, and commercial fire and explosion incidents and fire protection system failures.  Our professionals often engaged as lead investigators and provide timely response to fire incident scenes to initiate our investigations.  Exponent’s fire and explosion investigations utilize the latest tools and technology at the incident site, including 3D surveying tools, to obtain the data needed to conduct an efficient, scientific investigation and to establish the cause of failure in a timely manner. 

Fire protection engineering is the application of science and engineering principles to protect people and their environments from the destructive effects of fire.

In 2010, 1,331,500 fires were reported in the United States. These fires caused 3,120 civilian deaths, 17,720 civilian injuries, 72 firefighter deaths, and $11.6 billion in property damage (source, NFPA).

Exponent’s fire protection engineers offer services for the protection of life, property, business operation, and the environment from the harmful effects of fire. In the unfortunate event of a fire or explosion, our fire protection engineers can evaluate the associated performance of fire detection, suppression, and life safety systems in industrial, commercial, transportation, and residential environments, and the involvement of materials and products in fires. We actively participate in code and standard organizations and become involved in the development of product, systems, equipment, and building fire safety regulations and requirements.

Our services include:

  • Fire and explosion origin, cause, and propagation analysis (CFEIs) 
  • Fire detection, alarm, and suppression systems and component failure analysis  
  • Traditional and performance-based code compliance evaluations 
  • Life safety systems analysis 
  • Fire modeling 
  • Product development and compliance testing 
  • Codes and standards development 
  • Fire testing of products and materials for ignition, spread, fire growth, and flammability properties 
  • Full, intermediate, and small-scale fire and flammability testing 
  • Experimental research and development for products and materials 
  • Third-party flame effect system reviews

Exponent’s fire protection engineers are well versed in fire and building codes/standards and sit on many nationally and internationally recognized technical committees responsible for the drafting, review, and modification of new and existing fire and building codes/standards.

Specifically, Exponent also has representation on the following International Code Council (ICC) committees:

  • ICC Fire/Performance/Wildland-Urban Interface Code Interpretation Committee (FCIC)

Exponent also has representation on the following National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) codes/standards:

  • NFPA 17 - Standard for Dry Chemical Extinguishing Systems
  • NFPA 17A - Standard for Wet Chemical Extinguishing
  • NFPA 30A - Code for Motor Fuel Dispensing Facilities and Repair Garages
  • NFPA 30B - Code for the Manufacture and Storage of Aerosol Products
  • NFPA 37 - Standard for the Installation and Use of Stationary Combustion Engines and Gas Turbines
  • NFPA 51 - Standard for the Design and Installation of Oxygen–Fuel Gas Systems for Welding, Cutting, and Allied Processes
  • NFPA 51A - Standard for Acetylene Cylinder Charging Plants
  • NFPA 51B - Standard for Fire Prevention During Welding , Cutting, and Other Hot Work
  • NFPA 55 - Standard for the Storage, Use, and Handling of Compressed Gases and Cryogenic Fluids in Portable and Stationary Containers, Cylinders, and Tanks
  • NFPA 56 - Standard for Fire and Explosion Prevention During Cleaning and Purging of Flammable Gas Piping Systems
  • NFPA 59 – Standard for Gases at Utility Gas Plants
  • NFPA 61 - Standard for the Prevention of Fires and Dust Explosions in Agricultural and Food
  • NFPA 68 - Standard on Explosion Protection by Deflagration Venting
  • NFPA 69 - Standard on Explosion Prevention Systems
  • NFPA 72 - National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code
  • NFPA 80 - Standard for Fire Doors and Other Opening Protectives
  • NFPA 82 - Standard on Incinerators and Waste and Linen Handling Systems and Equipment
  • NFPA 85 - Boiler and Combustion Systems Hazards Code
  • NFPA 86 - Standard for Ovens and Furnaces
  • NFPA 87 - Recommended Practice for Fluid Heaters
  • NFPA 101 - Life Safety Code
  • NFPA 105 - Standard for the Installation of Smoke Door Assemblies and Other Opening
  • NFPA 211 - Standard for Chimneys, Fireplaces, Vents, and Solid Fuel-Burning Appliances
  • NFPA 214 - Water Cooling Towers
  • NFPA 251 - Standard Methods of Tests of Fire Resistance of Building Construction and Materials
  • NFPA 252 - Standard Methods of Fire Tests of Door Assemblies
  • NFPA 253 - Standard Method of Test for Critical Radiant Flux of Floor Covering Systems Using a Radiant Heat Energy Source
  • NFPA 257 - Standard on Fire Test for Window and Glass Block Assemblies
  • NFPA 259 - Standard Test Method for Potential Heat of Building Materials
  • NFPA 260 - Standard Methods of Tests and Classification System for Cigarette Ignition Resistance of Components of Upholstered Furniture
  • NFPA 261 - Standard Method of Test for Determining Resistance of Mock-Up Upholstered Furniture Material Assemblies to Ignition by Smoldering Cigarettes
  • NFPA 262 - Standard Method of Test for Flame Travel and Smoke of Wires and Cables for Use in Air-Handling Spaces
  • NFPA 265 - Standard Methods of Fire Tests for Evaluating Room Fire Growth Contribution of Textile Coverings on Full Height Panels and Walls
  • NFPA 268 - Standard Test Method for Determining Ignitibility of Exterior Wall Assemblies Using a Radiant Heat Energy Source
  • NFPA 269 - Standard Test Method for Developing Toxic Potency Data for Use in Fire Hazard Modeling
  • NFPA 270 - Standard Test Method for Measurement of Smoke Obscuration Using a Conical Radiant Source in a Single Closed Chamber
  • NFPA 271 - Standard Method of Test for Heat and Visible Smoke Release Rates for Materials and Products Using an Oxygen Consumption Calorimeter
  • NFPA 273 - Standard Method of Test for Determining the Degrees of Combustibility of Building Materials (Proposed)
  • NFPA 274 - Standard Test Method to Evaluate Fire Performance Characteristics of Pipe Insulation
  • NFPA 275 - Standard Method of Fire Tests for the Evaluation of Thermal Barriers Used Over Foam Plastic Insulation
  • NFPA 276 - Standard Method of Fire Tests for Determining the Heat Release Rate of Roofing Assemblies with Combustible Above-Deck Roofing Components (Proposed)
  • NFPA 284 - Standard Test Method for Mattresses for Correctional Occupancies (Proposed)
  • NFPA 285 - Standard Fire Test Method for Evaluation of Fire Propagation Characteristics of Exterior Non-Load-Bearing Wall Assemblies Containing Combustible Components
  • NFPA 286 - Standard Methods of Fire Tests for Evaluating Contribution of Wall and Ceiling Interior Finish to Room Fire Growth
  • NFPA 287 - Standard Test Methods for Measurement of Flammability of Materials in Cleanrooms Using a Fire Propagation Apparatus (FPA)
  • NFPA 288 - Standard Methods of Fire Tests of Floor Fire Door Assemblies Installed Horizontally in Fire Resistance-Rated Floor Systems
  • NFPA 289 - Standard Method of Fire Test for Individual Fuel Packages
  • NFPA 290 - Standard for Fire Testing of Passive Protection Materials for Use on LP-Gas Containers
  • NFPA 410 - Standard on Aircraft Maintenance
  • NFPA 484 - Standard for Combustible Metals, Metal Powders, and Metal Dusts
  • NFPA 495 - Explosive Materials Code
  • NFPA 496 - Standard for Purged and Pressurized Enclosures for Electrical Equipment
  • NFPA 497 - Recommended Practice for the Classification of Flammable Liquids, Gases, or Vapors and of Hazardous (Classified) Locations for Electrical Installations in Chemical Process Areas
  • NFPA 498 - Standard for Safe Havens and Interchange Lots for Vehicles Transporting Explosives
  • NFPA 499 - Recommended Practice for the Classification of Combustible Dusts and of Hazardous (Classified) Locations for Electrical Installations in Chemical Process Areas
  • NFPA 505 - Fire Safety Standard for Powered Industrial Trucks
  • NFPA 555 - Guide on Methods for Evaluating Potential for Room Flashover
  • NFPA 556 - Guide on Methods for Evaluating Fire Hazard to Occupants of Passenger Road Vehicles
  • NFPA 557 - Standard Fire Loads for Engineering Design of Structural Fire Resistance in Buildings.
  • NFPA 560 - Standard for the Storage, Handling, and Use of Ethylene Oxide for Sterilization and Fumigation
  • NFPA 664 - Prevention of Fires and Explosions in Wood Processing and Woodworking Facilities
  • NFPA 701 - Standard Methods of Fire Tests for Flame Propagation of Textiles and Films
  • NFPA 705 - Recommended Practice for a Field Flame Test for Textiles and Films
  • NFPA 1194 - Standard for Recreational Vehicle Parks and Campgrounds
  • NFPA 1620 – Recommended Practice for Pre-Incident Planning
  • NFPA 2112 - Standard on Flame-Resistant Garments for Protection of Industrial Personnel Against Flash Fire
  • NFPA 2113 - Standard on Selection, Care, Use, and Maintenance of Flame-Resistant Garments for Protection of Industrial Personnel Against Flash Fire
  • NFPA 5000 - Building Construction and Safety Code

Exponent has representation on the following American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) committees:

  • ASTM Committee C16 – Thermal Insulation
  • ASTM Committee D13 – Textiles
  • ASTM Committee E27 - Hazard Potential of Chemicals:
    • Subcommittee E27.02 - Thermal Stability and Condensed Phases
    • Subcommittee E27.04 - Flammability and Ignitability of Chemicals
    • Subcommittee E27.05 - Explosibility and Ignitability of Dust Clouds
  • ASTM Committee E05 - Fire Testing:
    • Subcommittee E05.13 - Large Scale Fire Tests
    • Subcommittee E05.15 - Furnishings and Contents
    • Subcommittee E05.21 - Smoke and Combustion Products
    • Subcommittee E05.32 - Research
  • ASTM Committee F15 - Consumer Products
  • ASTM Committee F23 – Personal Protective Clothing and Equipment 



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