Effectiveness of fire service ventilation and suppression tactics
Under the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Assistance to Firefighter Grant Program - Fire Prevention and Safety Grants, UL is examining the impact of vertical ventilation (through the roof), both naturally induced and as a firefighting tactic, on fire growth behavior in residential structures. This two year project will develop empirical data on vertical ventilation techniques that is needed to quantify the fire behavior associated with these scenarios and result in immediately developing the necessary firefighting ventilation practices to reduce firefighter death and injury. Suppression techniques used to fight these modern fire conditions will also be examined to assess their impact on occupant survivability. This fire research project will further work from previously DHS AFG sponsored research (EMW-2008-FP-01774) which studied the impact of horizontal ventilation through doors and windows. Additionally, this fire research project will address questions of smoke alarm response associated with different smoke alarm technologies and alarm location to support fire department smoke alarm distribution programs including those sponsored by DHS Fire Prevention and Safety Grant program. The project objectives are as follows:
- Improve firefighter safety by increasing knowledge of fire behavior.
- Develop knowledge of vertical ventilation tactics.
- Generate understanding of modern construction practices such as open floor plans and emerging attic construction design on fire growth.
- Address concerns about smoke alarm technologies and placement to support fire department smoke alarm distribution programs.
- Develop tactical considerations based on the experimental results that can be incorporated into firefighting standard operating guidelines.
Key Project Tasks
Formation of a Project Advisory Panel - This task will bring together an advisory panel of technical experts in the fire engineering, fire service and fire and smoke detection science fields.
Develop Experiments - UL's project engineers will work closely with the advisory panel to identify experiments to conduct (test samples, test procedures, exposure conditions), testing instrumentation and analysis methods (panel meeting #1). Anticipated experiments include:
- Large scale heat release rate for test sample characterization
- Product and assembly level fire experiments to examine legacy attic insulation materials and installation techniques and emerging trends for high efficiency and tempered attic spaces
- Full-scale house fire experiments examining smoke alarm response associated with different smoke alarm technologies and alarm location to developing fire conditions
- Full-scale house fire experiments examining fire service vertical ventilation tactics
- Post-flashover suppression phase of the house experiments
Full-scale house fire experiments will be conducted on two houses constructed in the large fire facility of UL in Northbrook, IL. The first of two houses will be a one-story, 1200 ft2, 3 bedroom, 1 bathroom house (8 rooms total); the second house will be a two-story 3200 ft2, 4 bedroom, 2.5 bathroom house (12 rooms total). The second house will feature a contemporary open floor plan, two-story great room and open foyer. Both houses will have the same floor plans as used in the horizontal ventilation project.
Conduct Experiments - Experiments identified during the previous task will be conducted. The schedule will be forwarded to advisory panel members for their participation
Data Analysis - UL engineers will compile collected data into data packages specific to each experiment. Graphs will be developed for review by the advisory panel in preparation for the final report.
Develop Technical Report - A comprehensive technical report for the investigation will be developed detailing specifics of the tests performed (samples, procedures) and the results obtained. The report will also discuss the insights garnered by the advisory panel and provide recommendations for future study.
Online Training Program - In order to make the results of this study more user friendly for the fire service, an online interactive training module will be developed. As with the online training program for the horizontal ventilation project, this program will include a professionally narrated description of all of the experiments, their results and the tactical considerations. Experimental video will be used in the program and graphical data will be explained in a way that brings science to the street level firefighter.
Current Status: September 6, 2011
The Project Advisory Panel has been formed. The panel consists of 21 members representing urban, suburban and rural fire services as well as fire and smoke researchers.
Experiment design is underway.