It is generally considered that about half of all house fires start as smoldering fires. By the time the fire services have arrived, many of these will have transitioned into a flaming stage, but their origin and early development will have been in the smoldering mode. Thus, for fire investigators and any other personnel interested in understanding real fires, smoldering is of major concern.
Yet, until now, it has been difficult to access information on smoldering fires. No book has been in existence devoted to this subject. Meanwhile fire safety textbooks and handbooks offered either no information on smoldering fires, or only a brief introduction into the topic. The current (20th) edition of the NFPA Handbook, in fact, does not even contain a chapter on smoldering fires. Some years ago, an editor of that handbook, Jim Linville, told this author the reason why: self-heating and smoldering fires are of major concern in real-life fire investigations. When the NFPA Handbook did used to contain substantive materials on this topic, its staffers used to be regularly subpoenaed to appear in court proceedings dealing with fire investigations to provide their expertise in these matters. As a result, NFPA deemed it expedient to remove substantive information on this topic from its handbook.
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