ATF Joins the Third Annual National Day of Hacking

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On June 6, 2015, thousands of people from across the United States will come together for the Third Annual National Day of Civic Hacking. The goal of National Day of Civic Hacking is for residents, community groups, and government to collaborate to make their communities stronger.  The theme for National Day of Civic Hacking is Principles for 21st Century Government.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) is proud to be a participant in this year's event.  ATF's event will be hosted, in the Washington area at 1150 17th St NW #200, Washington, DC 20036, and will be focusing on using data to make and improve decisions ? specifically using fire test data, including images, burn patterns and other research data that inform the efforts of fire-related personnel and in their arson related investigations.


Combining an ignition source with combustible material in the presence of oxygen will lead to fire. The formula is easy to grasp, but understanding the science of fire is anything but simple. A great deal of knowledge of the behavior of fire is gained through testing or "burns" that demonstrate the effects of fire on specific materials are under certain conditions. The data produced from these tests are an invaluable resource.  This information can be used in a variety of situations including fire investigations, product testing, and scientific research. The prime audience for this information is the private sector (fire researchers, law enforcement personnel, scholars) who currently have access to this data on a pay schedule.

Fire Research Laboratory

The ATF's Fire Research Laboratory (FRL) is the world's largest research laboratory that is dedicated to fire scene investigations. FRL scientists utilize its unique structure and sophisticated instruments to investigate fire scenes, conduct forensic fire science and engineering tests, and analyze fire growth and dynamics.

The FRL conducts investigations that involve fire scene reconstruction; flashover studies; electrical fire cause evaluation; and validation of fire pattern analysis indicators. It also participates in important investigations regarding the impact of accelerants on fire growth and spread, ignition studies and electrical fire cause analysis.

The Fire Research Lab has conducted more than 600 tests demonstrating how materials and fire behave. The data, and photos produced from these tests is being shared to support improved decision making by Fire and Fire-Related Personnel, Manufacturers, and others within the scientific community.

Challenge Description

Fire and flammability testing can be used for various purposes; however, our challenge is focused on the use of the testing data for fire investigations - the investigation launched after a fire has been extinguished - to determine the origin and cause of the fire.

Fire investigations require a systematic approach and knowledge of basic fire science. The data from our tests can be used in conjunction by fire investigation personnel to better understand and discover the origin and/or causes of a fire.

The ATF invites the civic hackathon community to develop innovative apps that aggregate and improve the usability of these (and other) datasets, reports, and photos for fire investigation personnel. There are no existing mobile or tablet applications that are currently used for these reference datasets. Help us put the power of data at the fingertips of fire investigation personnel when they are in the lab or out in the field.

Data and Other Resources

For this challenge, ATF has identified 10 "burns" each of which provides a report, data and photos. Specifically provided:

  • The use of a Fire Products Collector (FPC) to determine the heat release rate (HRR), convective heat release rate (CHRR), gas species production, and smoke production of Christmas tree.

Registration Information

Visit our registration page to sign up for the Hackathon.  Participants should identify if they will join onsite or online.


The Fire Research Laboratory of the ATF is providing this data to assist in fire investigations across the United States and its territories. This data included (e.g. temperature, voltage, humidity, etc...) is meant for a select audience of fire investigators. The data collected are from tests conducted in a controlled laboratory environment. ATF does not condone or support using this data for purposes outside of fire investigations.

The FireToss is live on the site.

Last Reviewed September 22, 2016