New Online Course: Understanding and Fighting Basement Fires
Kimberley Savoury
October 20, 2020

UL FSRI is pleased to partner with the International Society of Fire Service Instructors (ISFSI) to release the new “Understanding and Fighting Basement Fires” online course.

This online course explores the results of fire experiments conducted as part of the collaborative Understanding and Fighting Basement Fires project between UL FSRI and the International Society of Fire Service Instructors (ISFSI) to reduce risk and improve firefighter effectiveness when fighting below-grade fires.

After taking this course, you will be able to:

  • Describe the basic principles of fire dynamics, including he stages of fire development, heat release rate, and flow path.
  • Categorize below-grade spaces based on exterior access and describe the fire behavior associated with each category.
  • Chronicle the previous research that provided the foundation for this project and describe the basement fire experiments.
  • Incorporate tactical considerations based on experimental results into standard operating guidelines to improve firefighter effectiveness, safety, and occupant tenability.


“From a firefighting perspective, basement fires or below grade fires are the most difficult, challenging and dangerous fires encountered within a residential structure. Over the years, many firefighters have been injured or killed while trying to extinguish a below grade fire. This course consolidates years of research and experience from the fireground to provide tactical considerations that can be incorporated into Standard Operating Guidelines (SOGs) to improve both firefighter safety and occupant survivability.”

— Dan Madrzykowski, Director of Research, UL FSRI

In part, this project was supported by a Department of Homeland Security and Federal Emergency Management Agency Assistance to Firefighters Grant.

This course is dedicated to the memory of Captain Matt LeTourneau, of the Philadelphia Fire Department, and all the firefighters that have been killed or injured as the result of a basement fire. Matt was involved in planning, preparing, and conducting the ISFSI Study on Understanding and Fighting Basement Fires.

Captain Matt LeTourneau
Captain Matt LeTourneau, Philadelphia FD, passed away on Saturday, January 6, 2018 after succumbing to his injuries suffered from a structural collapse while fighting a rowhouse fire.

Matt assisted UL FSRI countless times when we conducted experiments in Pennsylvania and was key contributor to the Technical Panel of the ISFSI Basement Fire Research Project. He always stopped by to talk fire service topics and to simply see if we needed an extra hand with anything, usually before or after a shift with PFD. In honor of his contributions, the ISFSI Understanding and Fighting Basement Fires Project is dedicated in his name.
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.