The technology could save firefighters valuable time by giving several minutes of warning on how a fire will develop, helping them to contain the blaze and minimise its impact.
Simple sensors - incorporated into smoke alarms, room temperature sensors or CCTV cameras - can measure the temperature and height of a fire. Sophisticated computer models can then convert these into a forecast of the fire's dynamics.
This technology, known as Sensor Assisted Fire Fighting, has been developed by researchers at the University of Edinburgh. It allows real-time observation of a fire, with the forecast being constantly updated using information from the sensors. In the event of a significant change in conditions, such as a window breaking, sensor measurements enable the computational model to adapt the forecast.
The research, published in Fire Safety Journal, was partially funded by the UK Technology Strategy Board and the European Union.