UL – FSRI Completes Full – Scale Fire Experiments
Keith Stakes
June 17, 2016

Work continues on the 2013 Department of Homeland Security grant to study the “Impact of Fire Attack utilizing Interior and Exterior Streams on Firefighter Safety and Occupant Survival.” Throughout both February and March, the UL – FSRI team was in Northbrook, Illinois at the Underwriters Laboratories headquarters conducting the full-scale residential structure fire experiments. Over 30 experiments were conducted looking at both interior and transitional fire attack and associated risks to trapped occupants and responding firefighters in residential structure fires.

Two 1,600 square foot single story, single family homes were constructed to simulate the average of what would be seen in the United States using modern construction practices and real-world fuels. The conditions within the fire buildings were monitored with over 250 instruments per structure to look at temperatures, heat flux, velocity, and gas concentrations. Additionally, newly developed measurement techniques were utilized to gain insight into human skin burns as well as moisture measurements focused on steam production during suppression operations.

The first two components of the fire attack study looked at how nozzles entrain air and how water is distributed within structures. The results from these preliminary experiments combined with the knowledge and expertise of our project technical panel of fire service experts guided the design of these full-scale fire experiments. Each experiment looked at a different tactic utilizing a different nozzle and attack method in a structure with differing ventilation configurations. The experiments were broken down into three main categories: those with no vents (a “buttoned – up” structure) and a single room of fire, those with a single vent and a single room of fire, and those with two vents and two rooms of fire. Within each of these categories, various tactics were tested to include both interior and exterior attacks as well as different advances to include a shutdown and move and a flow and move. Throughout the entire study, each test configuration looked at both smooth bore as well as combination nozzles.

The data is currently being analyzed by the UL – FSRI staff as well as reviewed by our project technical panel. Once the data analysis has been completed, the results will be placed into a technical report which will contain tactical considerations for the fire service to digest and apply to their specific department as needed to improve efficiency and safety on the fire ground. Stay tuned for the report and results in early 2017.

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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.