Multi-Compartment Training Fuel Experiments Completed
Research for UL’s Fire Safety Research Institute (FSRI) project, Training Fire Exposures from the Source: Developing a Risk-Benefit Framework, continued in September with a new series of experiments conducted at the Maryland Fire and Rescue Institute’s North East Regional Training Center (MFRI NERTC). To compliment the single-compartment experiments that occurred last year in a Fire Behavior Lab, these experiments were completed in MFRI’s concrete training structure, which has multiple rooms and levels.
FSRI engineers used three different fuel packages for this series of experiments, including traditional pine pallets and straw as well as pallets and straw with additions of oriented strand board (OSB) and lightweight fiberboard. The experiments were designed to replicate common live fire training environments created inside a structural firefighting training prop. Typically, these props are utilized by firefighters to practice suppression and rescue techniques under the supervision of a fire service instructor and safety officer.
The test structure was instrumented to sample the products of combustion generated and measure the thermal conditions created during training fires with these fuel packages. Two insulated cabinets were placed on the first and second floors to gather chemical exposure samples from locations where a safety officer would be stationed during a typical training event. Multiple video and infrared cameras captured interior views of the experiments.
Working with collaborators at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), silicone passive samplers, which accumulate compounds from the air much like the human skin, were positioned with the nearby traditional monitors to provide comparisons between the tools.
The objective of this research is to characterize the combined chemical and thermal exposure risks generated from incorporating different training fuel packages in live-fire training, and ultimately yield a risk-benefit framework the fire service can reference to inform training fuel selection. A better understanding of how fuels impact the fire training environment will improve the effectiveness and safety of firefighters and fire instructors by providing evidence-based information that can be used in firefighter training standards, policies and procedures.
Training Fire Exposures from the Source: Developing a Risk-Benefit Framework is part of a DHS/FEMA AFG supported project that examines the risks and benefits of live-fire training environments with the goal of reducing firefighter fatalities and injuries.