UL Firefighter Safety Research Institute Launches third Study on Fire Service Ventilation
Stephen Kerber
November 6, 2013

The UL Firefighter Safety Research Institute (UL FSRI) kicked off a $1 million U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) grant in December 2013 to study the effectiveness of positive pressure ventilation during fire attack in single family homes incorporating modern construction practices with the first of three technical panel meetings. The technical panel meeting held at UL’s Northbrook, Ill., campus brought together of the job from across the Unites States, Canada and Europe. A total of 26 members from four countries with more than 500 years of combined fire service experience volunteered their time and knowledge to help in this cutting edge research. The full-day meeting introduced the panel members who discussed the goals of the grant project, planned full-scale burn experiments and toured UL’s large-scale fire facility.


Positive pressure ventilation (PPV) is a fire service tactic in which high speed fans are used to pressurize a house involved in fire with the intent to control the flow of combustion products and heat within an enclosure. Technical meeting attendees provided UL FSRI with valuable insight into how fire service tactic is being used throughout the world, and discussed areas where additional data and knowledge are needed to better understand its uses and benefits. Almost all panel members echoed the need to identify the most effective uses and contraindications for PPV.

The full-scale tests scheduled for will compare the effectiveness of PPV in 1,200 square foot, single-story ranch homes reflecting the construction of the late 1960s and early 1970s with the 3,200 square foot, two-story open floor plan homes that dominate today’s new home construction. A total of 23 experiments are planned to evaluate how PPV affects fire dynamics in modern homes, . The testing results will be published in the final DHS report, and compiled into an online training course for the fire service.

The “Study of the Effectiveness of Positive PressureVentilation During Fire Attack in Single Family Homes Incorporating Modern Construction Practices” is the third DHS grant awarded to UL under the Assistance to Firefighter Grant Program to study fire service ventilation. In 2010, UL published a report on the “Impact of Ventilation on Fire Behavior in Legacy and Contemporary Residential Construction,” followed in 2013 with the “Study of the Effectiveness of Fire Service Vertical Ventilation and Suppression Tactics in Single Family Homes.” Although PPV has been studied in high rise and fire resistive structures, this project marks the first major research into PPV for single family homes.

UL Firefighter Safety Research Institute is dedicated to increasing firefighter knowledge to reduce injuries and deaths in the fire service and in the communities they serve.