Parallel processing techniques have been used in the past to provide high performance computing resources for activities such as Computational Fluid Dynamics. This is normally achieved using specialized hardware and software, the expense of which would be difficult to justify for many fire engineering practices. In this paper, we demonstrate how typical office-based PCs attached to a local area network have the potential to offer the benefits of parallel processing with minimal costs associated with the purchase of additional hardware or software. A dynamic load balancing scheme was devised to allow the effective use of the software on heterogeneous PC networks. This scheme ensured that the impact between the parallel processing task and other computer users on the network was minimized thus allowing practical parallel processing within a conventional office environment. Copyright © 2006 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.