Report on Study of the Fire Service Training Environment: Safety and Fidelity in Concrete Live Fire Training Buildings
As part of the DHS/AFG grant “Study of the Fire Service Training Environment: Safety, Fidelity, and Exposure,” FSRI conducted a series of experiments in a concrete live fire training building in an effort to evaluate the fidelity and safety of two training fuels, pallets and OSB. Additionally, the fire dynamics created by these fuels compared to those created by a fuel load representative of a living room set with furniture items with synthetic components were examined. The following training considerations were developed with assistance from the project technical panel, blending their experience with the research results:
- Wood-based training fuels are different than synthetic fuels
- Building construction affects fire behavior
- Limiting the fuel load to avoid uncontrolled flashover does not prevent thermal injury
- Time, distance, and shielding are important when evaluating thermal exposure
The goal of fire service training is to prepare students for the conditions and challenges that they face on the fireground. Among the challenges that firefighters routinely face on the fireground are ventilation-controlled fires. The hazard of these fires has been highlighted by several line-of-duty deaths and injuries in which a failure to understand the fire dynamics produced by these fires has been a contributing factor. The synthetic fuels that commonly fill contemporary homes tend to result in ventilation-controlled conditions.
While synthetic fuels are common on the residential fireground, the fuels that firefighters use for fire training are more often representative of natural, wood-based fuels. In order to better understand the fire dynamics of these training fires, a series of experiments was conducted in a concrete live fire training building in an effort to evaluate the fidelity and safety of two training fuels, pallets and OSB, and compare the fire dynamics created by these fuels to those created by a fuel load representative of a living room set with furniture items with a synthetic components. Additionally, the effects of the concrete live fire training building on the fire dynamics were examined. The two training fuel loads were composed of wooden pallets and straw, and pallets, straw, and oriented strand board (OSB).
The results indicated that the high leakage area of the concrete live fire training building relative to the fuel load prevented the training fuel packages from becoming ventilation-controlled and prevented the furniture package from entering a state of oxygen-depleted decay. The furniture experiments progressed to flashover once ventilation was provided. Under the conditions tested, the wood based fuels, combined with the construction features of this concrete live fire training building, limited the ability to teach ventilation-controlled fire behavior and the associated firefighting techniques. Additionally, it was shown that the potential for thermal injury to firefighters participating in a training evolution existed well below thresholds where firefighter PPE would be damaged.
Research Project: Study of the Fire Service Training Environment: Safety, Fidelity, and Exposure
Report Title: Service Training Environment: Safety and Fidelity in Concrete Live Fire Training Buildings
Report Authors: Jack Regan and Robin Zevotek
Download the Report: https://dx.doi.org/10.54206/102376/WXTW8877
Release Date: July 11, 2018