Training Fuels

Single Compartment Fuel Experiments Expanded

October 20, 2021

It was a busy summer for FSRI’s research project, Training Fire Exposures from the Source: Developing a Risk-Benefit Framework, which 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.

Technical Panel members joined us in Pennsylvania for the data collection session in June, where we successfully recorded data from 25 scenarios during our Single Compartment Fuel Experiments in the Fire Behavior Lab prop. The series of experiments included five replicate tests using five different fuels, including fiberboard, oriented strand board (OSB), pallets, particleboard, and plywood.  Data and video collected from these experiments provides a holistic view of how fuels impact both thermal and smoke exposure conditions within and immediately outside of the training structure as well as visualization of how the fuels impact visual fire environment feedback necessary for appropriately training the fire service.

The conversations and insights following the initial burns resulted in the addition of seven supplementary tests at the end of the deployment. We ran six tests comparing OSB and fiberboard in shorter scenarios while also studying smoke concentrations at lower levels in the observation chamber at 3 feet, 2 feet, and one foot from the floor. The seventh add-on test focused on a straw-only scenario.

These tests will allow us to measure what is produced by the different fuels, while also enabling us to study the impact of a few other potential control measure that may be possible to implement during training. We are currently working through air sampling data coming back from the lab to organize and begin our analysis. 

As our new laboratory opened in Columbia, MD, we also began working on activities for Bench Scale Fuel Experiments and welcomed a new post doc in September who will help accelerate this portion of the study.  Remaining field data collection for the Structure Scale Fuel Experiments is currently in planning with the goal to complete in 2022.

In the meantime, our technical panel is scheduled to convene virtually at the end of October to continue our discussion on project progress and data analysis.  This important research will equip the fire service to make informed decisions about training fuel selection and prop type/operation to balance contamination control with high quality training. 

FSRI would like to thank the DHS Fire Prevention & Safety Grant program for funding this study and the members of our panel who are advising us throughout the study.

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Training Fire Exposures From The Source: Developing a Risk-Benefit Framework