Fire Technology Department 


A world-renowned center of excellence for fire research, testing and product certification

SwRI® has provided an extensive range of fire research, testing and related services since 1949.


Fire Resistance

  • Ignition and flame spread testing of facades: NFPA 268, NFPA 285, etc.
  • Fire testing of plastic fuel tanks for automobiles: ECE R34 Annex 5
  • Fire testing of plastic pipes: IMO A.753
  • Furnace testing according to various domestic and international standards: ASTM E 119, IMO A.754, ISO 834, NFPA 415, UL 1709, etc.
  • Pool fire testing of nuclear shipping containers: 10 CFR 71
  • 25-ft and 50-ft corner tests: FM4880

IMO A.754 fire resistance test of glass window/door assembly

Material Flammability

  • Combustibility tests: ASTM E 136, ISO 1182, ISO 1716, NFPA 259, etc.
  • Cone calorimeter: ASTM E 1354, ISO 5660, etc.
  • Flame spread tests: ASTM E 84 (Steiner tunnel), ASTM E 648, EN 13823 (European Single Burning Item test), IMO A.653 (FTP Code Parts 5 & 6), etc.
  • Furniture and mattress tests: 16 CFR 1633 and 1634, CAL TB 133, etc.
  • Ignitability tests: ASTM D 635, ASTM D 1929, UL 94, etc.
  • Room corner tests: NFPA 265, NFPA 286, ISO 9705, UL 1715, etc.
  • Smoke and toxicity tests: ASTM E 622, IMO FTP Code Part 2, etc.
  • Wildland-urban interface fire testing: CASFM 12-7A Parts 1-4

Engineering and Research

  • Commodity classification: FM 4995, UL 2335, etc.
  • Custom testing of fire protection systems and agents
  • Explosibility analysis and testing: ASTM E 681, ASTM 2079, etc.
  • Dust explosion testing: ASTM E 1226, ASTM E 1515, NFPA 69
  • Flame arrester testing: 33 CFR 154, etc.
  • Hydrogen fire, explosion and safety testing according to customized procedures
  • Jet fire testing: OTI 95-634
  • Suppression testing: UL 162, UL 711, etc.

Listing and Labeling

  • Third-party quality assurance and follow-up inspection programs
  • SwRI directory of listed products
  • SwRI label for listed products
  • Field inspections and evaluations

Ignition of 100-kW burner in ISO 9705 room corner test


  • More than 50,000 sq ft of laboratory space spread over 10 buildings on the San Antonio grounds
  • Large vertical, large horizontal and small horizontal fire resistance test furnaces
  • Oxygen consumption calorimeters to measure heat release rates from 1 kW to 10 MW
  • State-of-the-art 4,225-sq-ft building with pollution control for fire suppression testing
  • Remote test in Sabinal, Texas, for large pool fire and other experiments
  • Digital still cameras
  • Video cameras
    • Infrared and ultraviolet
    • High-speed (up to 10,000 fps)
    • Streaming video capability over Internet
  •  Data acquisition systems, including high-speed units
  • Instrumentation to measure temperature, heat flux, pressure, gas composition, etc.
  • Facilities of other departments available for complex multidisciplinary programs


  • Multidisciplinary group of engineers and scientists
  • Chemical, civil, fire protection and mechanical engineers
  • Chemists, biologist and computer scientist
  • Professional engineer licensed in Texas and Florida
  • One engineer with doctorate
  • Five engineers with master's degrees
  • Technicians with extensive experience in constructing and instrumenting specimens, setting up test rigs and conducting routine and customized experiments

Evaluation of sprinkler system effectiveness in suppressing IBC storage fires


Fire Technology Department

  • ISO 9001:2000 certified by NSF
  • Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory (NRTL) recognized by OSHA
  • Recognized by USCG to perform testing and provide follow-up services according to IMO FTP code
  • Type A-1 Agency recognized by California State Fire Marshall
  • Recognized by local jurisdictions
    • City of New York
    • City of Los Angeles
    • Miami Metro and Dade County
  • Recognized by agreements with SP in Sweden and EFECTIS in The Netherlands to perform tests in support of CE marking of construction products

Testing Sections

  • ISO 17025:2005 accredited by IAS

Listing and Labeling Section

  • ISO 17020:2012 accredited by IAS
This flyer was originally published in January 2009. For more information about the Department of Fire Technology, contact Dr. Matthew Blais, Director, Phone (210) 522-3524, Chemistry and Chemical Engineering Division, Southwest Research Institute, P.O. Drawer 28510, San Antonio, Texas 78228-0510.  

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