Study of Coordinated Fire Attack utilizing Acquired Structures

The UL Firefighter Safety Research Institute (FSRI) will lead a 3-year Technology and Product Development Project examining coordinated fire attack utilizing acquired structures. The increased understanding of fire behavior that has emerged from previous AFG funded research has raised many questions that revolve around what constitutes a coordinated fire attack and how to effectively accomplish it in different types of structures. Previous FSRI research has examined ventilation (horizontal, vertical and positive pressure) and suppression (interior and transitional). Each of the afore-mentioned tactics were purposefully studied with primary focus on understanding each tactic independently to gain understanding of the impact of each on fire dynamics, occupant survivability and firefighter safety. The knowledge gained from each of these studies has provided the foundation to assemble the knowledge and to begin to understand what defines a successful coordinated fire attack. Most of the research in this area has been conducted in single family homes. Success will be measured and analyzed with techniques that have been developed, refined and proven over decades of collective experience leading firefighter research that examine occupant survivability and firefighter exposure.

To advance the understanding and the implementation of a coordinated attack, three series of experiments in acquired structures will be conducted in partnership with the fire service. The first series will be conducted in single family homes, the second in a multi-family residential structure and the final series will be conducted in a commercial structure such as a strip mall. The research will collect and analyze important fire data that includes temperatures, heat flux, flow velocities, differential pressure, gas concentrations, and moisture content throughout the structure. The results from the experiments will also provide knowledge on how flow paths and conditions in the structure are impacted with different crews performing different tactics in support of the strategic plan chosen during fire suppression operations with an emphasis on the coordination of ventilation and suppression.

The research will also include collaboration with the University of Illinois to develop data on the potential impact of fire conditions on firefighters and civilians. In order to accomplish their tasks, they will participate in the UL led fire experiments and introduce pig models and moisture measurement techniques, that have been validated in the 2013 DHS AFG funded Fire Attack Study, in various rooms and locations to simulate potential human exposure to elevated temperature and humidity.

The results and conclusions of this project will be used to improve firefighting tactics, fireground safety, fire dynamics knowledge, and to improve firefighter standard operating procedures. A comprehensive fire service outreach program will make sure that this science meets the street. This research addresses several “High Priority Recommendations” identified in the 2015 National Fire Service Research Agenda[1] and will also support the NFPA 1700 Guide for Structural Fire Fighting[2] currently under development.

Purpose and Aims: The purpose of this study is to improve fire service knowledge of fire dynamics and the impact of their tactics through a better understanding of how suppression and ventilation are coordinated on the fire ground in different types of structures. This project will expand on previous research studies (2008 DHS – Impact of Ventilation on Fire Behavior in Legacy and Contemporary Residential Construction, 2010 DHS – Effectiveness of Fire Service Vertical Ventilation and Suppression Tactics, 2012 DHS – Effectiveness of Positive Pressure Ventilation, 2013 DHS – Study of the Impact of Fire Attack Utilizing Interior and Exterior Streams on Firefighter Safety and Occupant Survival and 2012 FDNY, NIST, UL Partnership – Governors Island Experiments) that examined fire dynamics and fire service tactics and improved firefighter effectiveness and efficiency. This will assist in the development of thinking firefighters with a good foundation in fire dynamics and understanding of how their decision making will impact their safety and effectiveness. Coordination of fire attack is continuously cited in NIOSH LODD reports and fire service training materials but it is not well defined or explained. This study aims to provide the data necessary to understand the parameters of a successful coordinated fire attack so that firefighters become more effective and efficient on every fireground across the country.

[1] “2015 National Fire Service Research Agenda” National Fallen Firefighters Foundation. January 2016. http://1rxflr7bsmg1aa7h24arae91.wpengine.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2016/02/2015-Rearch-Agenda-Symposium-Report.pdf

[2] NFPA 1700, Guide for Structural Firefighting, NFPA Quincy MA, currently being drafted.

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