Research Projects - building construction
Understanding and Fighting Basement Fires
January 1, 2016
Joint effort with ISFSI to research safer ways to fight fires.
Residential Attic Fire Mitigation Tactics and Exterior Fire Spread Hazards on Fire Fighter Safety
September 7, 2012
This research project increased firefighter safety by providing the fire service with scientific knowledge on the dynamics of attic and exterior fires.
Structural Stability of Engineered Lumber in Fire Conditions
August 1, 2006
Examining the impact of engineered floor systems on the time to collapse and firefighter safety
Improving Fire Safety by Understanding the Fire Performance of Engineered Floor Systems
August 1, 2006
The main objective of this project was to improve firefighter safety by increasing the level of knowledge on the fire response to basement fires.
Fire Safety & Skills
UL Firefighter Safety Research Institute advances fire research knowledge and develops cutting-edge, practical fire service education aimed at helping firefighters stay safe.
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Analyzing the Impact of Ventilation on Fire Damage Patterns in Full-Scale Structures
The focus is on residential fires, which tend to be ventilation limited. Understanding ventilation-limited fires aids fire investigators in analyzing fire patterns and locating the area of origin. When and where the fire receives oxygen-laden fresh air impacts the fire dynamics and subsequent fire patterns. Attendees are presented with the results of a series of full-scale house experiments that examined the impact changes in ventilation had on the fire patterns. The test structures included a 1,200-sq.-ft. one-story ranch structure and a 3,200-sq.-ft. two-story colonial, which had an open floor plan with a two-story family room and an open foyer. The test scenarios ranged from fires in the structures with no exterior ventilation to room fires with flow paths that connected the fires with remote intake and exhaust vents throughout the structures. Elevated fires originating in the kitchens were also examined. The “after” photos are shown to the attendees first; they will “examine” the scene and develop a hypothesis prior to seeing how the experiment was conducted. Photos, data, videos, and fire-flow graphics from the experiments are used to explain the fire dynamics.
Firefighter Protective Clothing and Equipment: Exploring the Limits
This class focuses on today’s personal protective equipment (PPE) and its effects on firefighters’ health and performance on the fireground. Data from the 1970s from studies conducted by the Fire Department of New York and the Boston (MA) Fire Department provided the baseline understanding of the firefighters’ working environment. The data will be compared with recent measurements of the firefighters’ environment from the perspective of how the current gear and equipment perform under bench-scale and full-scale test exposures. Several of the experiments related to exposure of firefighters under live fire conditions were conducted with the Illinois Fire Service Institute, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, and the UL Firefighter Safety Research Institute. Reports of line-of-duty deaths or injuries that contain evaluation of the gear for thermal damage are discussed and compared to thermal performance guidelines. Among the questions addressed are the following: Does the replacement of natural materials with synthetic materials affect the firefighters? Does the thermal protective performance rating of the gear affect tactical capabilities? Does work station wear impact the effective thermal protective performance of PPE? Should it be a polyester or a cotton T-shirt?
Training Fires: More Than Just Heat and Smoke
This class focuses on the impact of the fuel type used during training evolutions. Discussion includes the differences in risks for students and fire instructors in the context of high-fidelity training that can appropriately prepare firefighters for today’s fireground; a description of these risks; and the scientific basis for recommendations to balance these risks through training, fuel selection, and postfire exposure reduction measures that can be implemented at relatively low cost and impact.
Science in the Big Room: Coordinated Fire Attack
This class provides an opportunity for the UL Firefighting Safety Research Institute (FSRI), along with four of the technical panel members who served on both the suppression study and the coordinated fire attack study, to present the highlights and fireground applications of the research. This research, conducted over the past 10 years, was focused primarily on ventilation and suppression, independent from one another, at fires in single-family dwellings. With a solid understanding of horizontal, vertical, and positive-pressure ventilation alongside both interior and exterior water application, the time has come to put the pieces together: How do we define coordination on the fireground? What makes for an effective fire attack? The current UL FSRI study into coordinating ventilation and suppression on the fireground is nearing its completion. The science from the lab was taken to the streets as experiments were conducted in acquired single-family dwellings, garden-style apartments, and a commercial strip mall. This study, much like all of our other studies, is guided by a technical panel of firefighters from across the country.
Effect of Firefighting Intervention on Occupant Tenability
What are the effects of search and suppression tactics on occupant tenability? Discussion centers on the results of 12 experiments conducted using a full-size residential structure to assess the impacts on trapped occupants when using an interior attack (applying water from the interior while a search team looked for simulated trapped occupants) and applying water from the exterior before transitioning to the interior while a search team looked for simulated trapped occupants. Six groups of firefighters, recruited from fire departments throughout the country, participated in two experiments each. Gas concentration and temperature measurements were analyzed to determine the effectiveness of firefighter tactics in limiting the exposure to potentially trapped occupants. This class highlights the effect of water relative to reducing temperature, occupant removal time, and occupant location within the structure. Coordination of suppression and ventilation tactics is emphasized.
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.