Fire

Report – Study of the Fire Service Training Environment: Acquired Structures

March 27, 2019

As part of the DHS/AFG grant project, “Study of the Fire Service Training Environment: Safety, Fidelity, and Exposure,” twelve full-scale fire experiments were conducted within an acquired test structure using two common training fuel packages: 1) pallets, and 2) pallets and oriented strand board (OSB). To compare the training fuels to modern furnishings, the experiments conducted were designed to replicate fire, ventilation location, and event timing to the prior research:

  • Impact of Ventilation of Fire Behavior in Legacy and Contemporary Residential Construction
  • Effectiveness of Fire Service Vertical Ventilation and Suppression Tactics
  • Effectiveness of Fire Service Positive Pressure Ventilation

Below are images of the two training fuel packages used in these experiments. On the left is the setup of pallets for a living room fire. On the right are pallets and oriented strand board setup for a bedroom fire.

Ranch Ranch

Main Objectives:

  • Compare the fire dynamics of a furnished structure with the fire dynamics of an acquired structure with NFPA 1403 compliant fuels.
  • Identify the extent to which tactical considerations from previous research projects can be replicated for training using NFPA 1403 compliant fuels.
  • Quantify the thermal environment inside live fire acquired structure burns produced by NFPA 1403 compliant fuels.

Results:

  • With the appropriate context, live fire training in acquired structures with NFPA 1403 compliant fuels can be used to train on many of the tactical considerations from the previous Horizontal, Vertical, and Positive Pressure Ventilation projects.
  • Acquired structure fires with NFPA 1403 compliant fuels do not completely mirror interior conditions produced by modern furnishings.

Download the Report 

Abstract

Previous FSRI led research projects have focused on examining the fire environment with regards to current building construction methods, synthetic fuel loading, and best-practices in firefighting strategies and tactics. More than 50 experiments have been previously conducted utilizing furniture to produce vent-limited fire conditions, replicating the residential fire environment, and studying the methods of horizontal ventilation, vertical ventilation, and positive pressure attack. Tactical considerations generated from the research are intended to provide fire departments with information to evaluate their standard operating procedures and make improvements, if necessary, to increase the safety and effectiveness of firefighting crews. Unfortunately, there still exists a long standing disconnect between live-fire training and the fireground as evident by continued line of duty injury and death investigations that point directly to a lack of realistic yet safe training, which highlights a continued misunderstanding of fire dynamics within structures.

The main objective of the Study of the Fire Service Training Environment: Safety, Fidelity, and Exposure is to evaluate training methods and fuel packages in several different structures commonly used across the fire service to provide and highlight considerations to increase both safety and fidelity. This report is focused on the evaluation of live-fire training in acquired structures. A full scale structure was constructed using a similar floor plan as in the research projects for horizontal ventilation, vertical ventilation, and positive pressure attack to provide a comparison between the modern fire environment and the training ground. The structure was instrumented which allowed for the quantification of fire behavior, the impact of various ventilation tactics, and provided the ability to directly compare these experiments with the previous research.

Twelve full scale fire experiments were conducted within the test structure using two common training fuel packages: 1) pallets, and 2) pallets and oriented strand board (OSB). To compare the training fuels to modern furnishings, the experiments conducted were designed to replicate both fire and ventilation location as well as event timing to the previous research. Horizontal ventilation, vertical ventilation, and positive pressure attack methods were tested, examining the proximity of the vent location to the fire (near vs. far). Each ventilation configuration in this series was tested twice with one of the two training fuel loads.

The quantification of the differences between modern furnishings and wood-based training fuel loads and the impact of different ventilation tactics is documented through a detailed comparison to the tactical fireground considerations from the previous research studies. The experiments were compared to identify how the type of fuel used in acquired structures impacts the safety and fidelity of live-fire training. The comparisons in this report characterized initial fire growth, the propensity for the fire to become ventilation limited, the fires response to ventilation, and peak thermal exposure to students and instructors. Comparisons examined components of both functional and physical fidelity. Video footage was used to assess the visual cues, a component of the fire environment that is often difficult to replicate in training due to fuel load restrictions. The thermal environment within the structure was compared between fuel packages with regards to the potential tenability for both students and instructors.


Research Project: Study of the Fire Service Training Environment: Safety, Fidelity, and Exposure
Report Title: Study of the Fire Service Training Environment: Safety, Fidelity, and Exposure - Acquired Structures
Report Authors: Keith Stakes and Joseph Willi
Download the Report: https://dx.doi.org/10.54206/102376/CECI9490
Release Date: March 25, 2019

Study of the Fire Service Training Environment: Safety, Fidelity, and Exposure