Studying the Impact of Fire Attack Methods on Firefighter Safety and Occupant Survival

Three-year study investigates various interior and exterior suppression tactics

Evaluating various fire attack methods and their effect on firefighter safety and occupant survivability

As research continues into how fire department interventions affect fire dynamics in the modern fire environment, questions continue to arise on the impact and implications of interior versus exterior fire attack on both occupant survivability and firefighter safety. This knowledge gap and lack of previous research into the impact of fire streams has driven the need for further research into fire department interventions at structure fires with a focus on hose streams and suppression tactics.

This study builds upon UL FSRI research conducted to date on fire service ventilation and suppression tactics to provide a comprehensive assessment of the impact of firefighting tactics on chemical and thermal exposures for victims trapped within a structure and the firefighters working on scene.

UL FSRI Research Engineer dressed in firefighter personal protective equipment (PPE) observes live-fire experiment
A UL FSRI Research Engineer dressed in firefighter personal protective equipment (PPE) observes a live-fire experiment.

Researchers are observing and measuring temperatures, heat flux, flow velocities, differential pressure, gas concentrations, and moisture content throughout the structure throughout this study.

The research also includes collaboration with the Illinois Fire Service Institute (IFSI) to develop data on the potential impact of fire conditions on firefighters and civilians. In order to accomplish these tasks, researchers will participate in UL-led fire tests and introduce pig skins in various rooms and locations to simulate human exposure to elevated temperature and humidity. They will also conduct controlled experiments at the University of Illinois on mice to better understand the impact of elevated temperature, fire effluent gases and high humidity on the respiratory system and develop inferences for occupant survivability.

IFSI Research Engineers work together to install pig skins and specialized instrumentation to simulate occupant exposure
IFSI Research Engineers work together to install pig skins and specialized instrumentation to simulate occupant exposure.

 

The results and conclusions of this project will be used to improve firefighting tactics, fireground safety and fire dynamics knowledge to improve firefighter training and standard operating procedures. A comprehensive fire service outreach program helps to ensure that this science meets the street.

Research results will provide new information to the fire service to:  

  • develop knowledge of water streams applied during an interior and exterior/interior fire attack and its impact on firefighter safety and victim survivability.
  • understand where water goes and how air flows during interior and exterior/interior fire attack utilizing common procedures and what that means to fire dynamics.
  • gain understanding of the impact of water streams depending on the size of the volume that the fire and hot gases are in.
  • advance the understanding of victim survivability in the modern fire environment by working with experts in the use of pig skins and rodents.
  • develop and implement a methodology to measure moisture content in modern fire environmental conditions to answer fire service concerns.
  • bring the ‘science to the streets’ by transferring science based tactical considerations founded on experimental results that can be incorporated into firefighting standard operating guidelines.

Learn more about this research by visiting the UL FSRI project page: Study of the Impact of Fire Attack Utilizing Interior and Exterior Streams on Firefighter Safety and Occupant Survival

 

Fast Facts

  • The study builds on research on fire service ventilation and suppression tactics to assess chemical and thermal exposures for victims trapped in a structure and firefighters
  • This research tracks fire data including temperature, heat flux, flow velocities, differential pressure, gas concentrations, and moisture content throughout the structure.
  • UL FSRI and its partner, the Illinois Fire Service Institute (IFSI), use this research to develop data on the potential impact of fire conditions on firefighters and civilians.