New UL research shows how closed bedroom doors can provide life-saving seconds in home fires

Blog Post created by laurenbackstrom Employee on Nov 12, 2015


New research shows how sleeping with your bedroom door closed can help buy lifesaving seconds in a fire, that can be used to find a way out or to protect yourself until firefighters can reach you.

Research is showing how doors can keep smoke out of a room longer as well as change the flow of heat and toxic gases, acting as a shield for someone trapped and unable to get out of a fire. Steve Kerber, director of the Underwriters Laboratories Firefighter Safety Research Institute, and a new committee member here at NFPA, has conducted hundreds of fire studies at UL working with fire departments across the country. He said along with smoke alarms, a closed door is the best possible thing.

In one UL test (shown in the above video), Kerber’s team lights a fire in a living room. The house is an open floor plan, like many homes in North Texas, with a great room that opens up to the second floor. Upstairs there are two bedrooms, one with the door open, the other is closed. Just a minute and a half after the fire starts downstairs, smoke is already entering the upstairs bedroom with the open door. After just three minutes, the room with the open door is full of thick, black smoke. But the room with the door closed, the air stays clear longer. Five minutes into the fire, there’s still some visibility in the room with the closed door. In the rest of the house smoke has choked out the light.

In 2012, UL conducted a series of tests On Governors Island, New York along with the New York City Fire Department. Researchers set 20 abandoned town houses on fire, to see how fires spread through modern homes. Among their findings, closed doors not only blocked smoke, they also kept out dangerous heat.

Firefighters and those of us at NFPA say you should have a working smoke alarm inside each bedroom, outside each sleeping area, and have an escape plan that you practice with your family, as well. Read the full story and watch the videos of each of the tests for more information