WORCESTER, Mass. - A more than a half million dollar grant will help a WPI researcher to check the reliability of tools used by wildfire investigators.

Fire Protection Engineering professor Albert Simeoni will use the wind tunnel at WPI and look at burn pattern indicators used by investigators when determining the starting point of wildfires. 

Simeoni says the goal isn't to develop new tools, but to make sure the ones being used work well. 

Simeoni said, “So we did some preliminary studies that we actually presented in our application for the grant to the National Institute of Justice. Our study is cited in the guide to fire investigation of the National Fire Protection Association. So for the moment, it’s just cited because we need to close the preliminary study, but we hope that this work will be actually included in the guides and will help develop the future version of the guides for fire investigators."

Simeoni says this research will also help firefighters when determining the cause of brush fires.