New Technologies Focus on First Responder "Capability Gaps" and Needs, Part 1

BY MARY JANE DITTMAR

Don’t judge a research category by its title when evaluating technological advances that took place in 2008-2009. A number of the research areas may look quite familiar—firefighter health and safety, communications, firefighting techniques, and thermal imaging, for example. The differences, however, are in the details—scope, affordability, accessibility, increased knowledge, emergency responder involvement, and product refinement, to name a few.

In fact, when Michael Southerly of the University of Nevada, Reno, Fire Science Academy, was asked in 2006 to identify the top technological advances in the field of emergency response for the past 10 years, his list contained a number of the same categories discussed in this article.1

Heading his list was computer and software technology, which he said “brought the information age to emergency scene operations.” Computers have become a staple at emergency incidents, he added, noting that it was difficult, even at that time, to find an area that was not affected by such technologies.

Among other advancements on his list were thermal imaging technology, communication technology, robotic technology, electronic technology, and research and development. The latter, he pointed out, affects virtually all areas encompassing emergency response, ranging from personal protective equipment (PPE) to human factors to the way emergency response personnel approach a situation. He cited especially situational modeling, which employs a number of methodologies that enable everyone from the incident commander to the nozzle person to the rescuer to “predict what the situation will do so that they may respond appropriately to the condition in the future.”

Where did Southerly think emergency responder technology would be 10 years from then? “Look to your imagination,” he said. “The dreams of today may become the realities of tomorrow.” His prediction appears to be on target when looking at some of these 2008-2009 technological “realities.”

FEDERAL RESEARCH INITIATIVES

As in the past few years, the majority of research initiatives involve partnerships among the federal government, education, industry, and the emergency services. Numerous efforts have been made to develop and refine new technologies so that they meet responders’ target needs. One mechanism for accomplishing this is the National Defense Industrial Association (NDIA), which provides a legal and ethical forum in which information can be exchanged between industry and government on national security issues. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology (S&T) Directorate and leaders from the first responder community attended NDIA’s “First Responders Frontiers: Enabling First Responders Today and Tomorrow,” which was held in February in Bellevue, Washington. The primary focus was “the capability gaps” and technology needs of U.S. and international police, fire, and emergency management personnel. First responders are looked at as key customers for the science and technology research investments the S&T Directorate makes and manages. The conference agenda highlighted S&T programs now underway to support first responders.

The U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) 2008 research program highlighted “emergency responder health and safety and fire protection and civilian life safety,” according to Bill Troup, USFA fire program specialist. (See “USFA: Tools for Creating Prevention, Preparedness, and Response Programs,” on page 58.)

At the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the effects of crew size and apparatus arrival time on fire conditions, performance metrics related to thermal imaging cameras (TICs), the thermal capacity of firefighting protective clothing, and wind-driven fires in structures were among the 2008 research areas. (See “Firefighting Technology Research at NIST,” on page 60.)

A sampling of the technologies the DHS S&T Directorate has been developing for first responders includes the following:

  • Lightweight Autonomous Chemical Identification System (LACIS). This lightweight, handheld, battery-operated chemical detector is described as accurate and affordable. It requires little maintenance, and users need only simple training. LACIS will help first responders to determine with confidence what kinds of equipment to don, what levels of hazmat and medical support are needed, and how long they should wait before cleanup can safely begin. DHS/S&T Program Manager Angela Ervin says the team is aiming for a device all first responders could use to identify the chemical hazard and measure its concentration in real time when they arrive at the scene.
    Sensor Research and Development Corporation, Smith’s Detection-Edgewood, and a Purdue University/Griffin Analytical team are working on a prototype. The final version of the detector will weight less than five pounds and cost about $2,000 or less per unit. Responders will be able to identify a large number of vapor hazards, including the most dangerous toxic industrial chemicals and chemical warfare agents. The technology will be more rigorously and independently field tested this summer at the Battelle Memorial Institute. The goal is to have a product on the market within three to four years.
  • Controlled Impact Rescue Tool (CIRT).This “super sledgehammer” was selected as a “Best of What’s New” for 2008 by Popular Science. Produced by Raytheon, CIRT helps search and rescue teams rescue people trapped inside collapsed buildings by firing a piston that “smashes through walls.” At a test in 2008, a CIRT prototype broke through a wall in less than half the time of drills, saws, and jackhammers.
    Two people carry and operate the tool, which uses a blank ammunition cartridge designed for a standard hunting rifle and drives a piston. When fired, it generates a high-energy jolt. No hoses or cords are required, and you can load it to fire as often as two rounds every minute. It is 36 inches long and 16 inches in diameter and weighs 105 pounds. Jalal Mapar, manager of the project at the S&T Directorate’s Infrastructure and Geophysical Division, estimates that the design will be refined and made even more affordable for production over the next 12 months.
  • Fireground Compass.When Battalion Chief Steve Nash of the Solon (OH) Fire Department set out to come up with a device that would enable “everybody on the fireground to have the same relation on where the building sits, where command is located, and where team members are,” he drew some ideas on paper and presented them to John Moore at Halcyon Products. Nash then contacted the DHS S&T Directorate TechSolutions Web site (www.dhs.gov/techsolutions). The TechSolutions program assists with rapid prototyping of technologies that need additional development before they are ready for commercialization. The result of Nash’s efforts is the Fireground Compass.
    The device is easy to use and combines a compass with rotating bezels. The “building bezel” has four points labeled “A,” “B,” “C,” and “D,” which correspond to the system firefighters use to identify building sides. The compass is oriented north. All users will have the same perspective. A separate “command bezel” indicates, with an arrow, where the incident command post is or where the user entered the building. Nash and Moore conducted focus groups with firefighters and solicited their thoughts and opinions on the product. The product is expected to be available this year.

 


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(1, 2) The CIRT prototype took less than half the time than drills, saws, and jackhammers to break through a wall. (Photo courtesy of DHS/S&T.)
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(3) The Fireground Compass. (Photo courtesy of DHS/S&T.)
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NIOSH AND EMS PPE

Emergency Medical Services (EMS). In 2006 and 2007, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and its partners used extensive laboratory testing and user wear assessments to evaluate the PPE commercially available for EMS personnel to determine the technical performance levels necessary to protect EMS responders. The search results were incorporated into NFPA 1999, Standard on Protective Clothing for Emergency Medical Operations, 2008 edition. The NFPA 1999 Standard Committee had identified a number of deficiencies in the 2003 edition of this standard.

This evaluation was essential, according to the agency, especially because numerous industries recognize NFPA standards as the basis for equipment quality and performance, especially for the first responder industry. The DHS also has adopted NFPA standards, including the 2008 edition of NFPA 1999; compliance with the standard is a requirement for receiving federal grant money. The standard contains requirements for certification of a range of products including single-use and multiple-use garments; examination, cleaning, and work gloves; eye and face protection; and single-use and multiple-use footwear. As of November 20, 2008, 26 manufacturers with a total of 82 products were certified to the 2008 edition of NFPA 1999.

The number of certified products for reusable footwear and work gloves has notably increased under the new edition. Prior to the 2008 edition, there were relatively little or no certification efforts in these areas. The trend of additional certified products is expected to continue with single-use garments and single-use footwear. A final report summarizing the EMS research is available through Angie Shepherd, project officer for the research.2 Two manuscripts are being prepared for publication.

Firefighter Footwear. At the end of December 2008, NIOSH initiated a study to determine if firefighters’ boots put them at risk, especially since one size or style may not fit all. Scientists at the NIOSH laboratories in Morgantown, WV, and Pittsburgh, PA, are conducting research to understand the physiological and biomechanical effects of boot weight on male and female firefighters.

The NFPA has reported that firefighters suffered an estimated 80,100 occupational injuries in 2007; a quarter of them were attributed to overexertion and another quarter to falls. NFPA and other standards-setting organizations are concerned that boot weight may contribute to firefighting stress.

Study participants were recruited from the areas of Morgantown, WV; western Maryland; northern Virginia; and eastern Ohio. They were tested for oxygen consumption, joint movement, and walking patterns while carrying a backpack and wearing a pair of randomly assigned rubber boots (two models), leather boots (two models), or safety shoes (baseline). The boots tested were those NFPA and firefighters reported as commonly used.

Preliminary findings of the study (a work in progress at several scientific conferences) suggest that firefighters adjusted their walking patterns and postures when wearing heavy boots. They walked slower, they took wider steps, and the percentage of time when both feet were in contact with the floor for each stride they took was longer with heavier boots, suggesting they need more time to balance their body while walking. Female firefighters tended to walk slower and take smaller steps than male firefighters.

In other preliminary findings, boot weight affected the way study participants naturally move their lower bodies. The boots limited firefighters’ ankle, knee, and hip motions; such restrictions may affect their ability to perform tasks efficiently, such as maintaining balance or crossing obstacles effectively during firefighting. Also, an increase in boot weight can affect firefighters’ energy expenditure and breathing.

Firefighters performed two exercise tasks—walking on a treadmill while carrying a hose and climbing a revolving staircase. For both tasks, firefighters’ oxygen consumption and heart rate were significantly greater when wearing rubber boots, which are three pounds heavier than leather boots. This increase in breathing and energy expenditure could decrease the duration of a firefighter’s self-contained breathing apparatus in an actual fire scenario. Further research will investigate the effects of different types of firefighter boot soles and the effect of boot weight on walking over obstacles.3

Part 2 will appear in the June 2009 issue.

Endnotes

1. “Technology in Emergency Response: A Ten-Year Perspective,” Michael Southerly, University of Nevada, Reno Fire Science Academy, 2006; 21:6, www.fireworld.com/.

2. “Improved Criteria for Emergency Protective Clothing,” www.cdc.gov/niosh/blog Jan 20, 2009. Contacts: Ed Fries, assistant coordinator for the NIOSH Personal Protective Technology (PPT) program in the NIOSH National PPT Laboratory Office of the Director, and Angie Shepherd, general engineer, Technology Research Branch, NIOSH National PPT Laboratory, project officer for this research.

3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention/NIOSH press release, December 18, 2008.

USFA: Tools for Creating Prevention, Preparedness, and Response Programs

 

BY BILL TROUP

The Federal Fire Prevention and Control Act of 1974 (P.L. 93-498) authorized the United States Fire Administration (USFA) to develop, test, and evaluate equipment used by the nation’s fire and rescue services and to conduct management studies. As a result, the USFA’s National Fire Data Center (NFDC), often through partnerships with other federal agencies and national fire service organizations, develops and manages numerous research and applied technology projects designed to enhance firefighter health and safety as well as decrease Americans’ deaths and injuries from fire.

In 2008, the NFDC supported and completed numerous studies in support of emergency responder health and safety and fire protection and civilian life safety. The following list highlights the final products of some of these studies, which can help fire departments build solid prevention, preparedness, and response programs:

  • Effects of Warning Lamp Color and Intensity on Driver Vision. The focus of the research was on the effects of warning lamps on driver vision and how the lamps can be designed to maximize the safety of emergency vehicle operations. A key finding was that blue emergency lighting is the most conspicuous color in the day and at night. (Funded by U.S. Department of Justice National Institute of Justice and in partnership with Society of Automotive Engineers)
  • Traffic Incident Management Systems (TIMS). Guidelines for local-level fire departments for complying with the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices. Also, highway scene safety survival basics, incident command for roadway incidents, and examples of effective TIMS programs. (In partnership with DOT and the International Fire Service Training Association)
  • Voice Radio Communications Guide for the Fire Service. A presentation of current operational and technological topics related to fire department communications and critical interoperability issues. [Funded by the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) SAFECOM Project Office and in partnership with the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF)]
  • Performance Metrics for Fire Fighting Thermal Imaging Cameras—Small- and Full-Scale Experiments [National Institute of Science and Technology Technical (NIST) Note #1499]. Information with which to formulate science-based performance metrics and standard testing protocols for NFPA 1801, Standard on Thermal Imagers for the Fire Service.
  • Impact of a Residential Sprinkler on the Heat Release Rate of a Christmas Tree Fire. A report/video demonstrating that under conditions of extreme fire growth, a single sprinkler was able to prevent flashover, control a tree fire, and limit the spread of fire to other objects. (In partnership with the National Institute of Standards and Technology)
  • Emerging Health and Safety Issues in the Volunteer Fire Service. Information on initiatives, programs, and strategies for reducing fatalities among volunteer firefighters. (In partnership with the National Volunteer Fire Council)
  • Contributing Factors to Fire Fighter Line-of-Duty Injury in Metropolitan Fire Departments in the United States. Compilation and analysis of two years of data from nine geographically diverse metropolitan fire departments that identify and quantify the major factors that contribute to firefighter line-of-duty injuries. (In partnership with the IAFF)
  • Emergency Incident Rehabilitation. Revision of the USFA’s 1992 manual that discusses critical health and safety issues related to emergency incident rehabilitation. (In partnership with the IAFF)
  • Water Supply System Concepts and Water Supply System Evaluation Methods. Latest trends and technologies related to municipal water supply systems in relation to enhancing local-level fire protection. (Funded by DHS’s Science and Technology Directorate and in partnership with the Society of Fire Protection Engineers’ Educational & Scientific Foundation)
  • Fire Escape Technology. Evaluation of the feasibility of developing a system that uses sight and sound techniques that have the potential to enhance occupant escape capabilities under adverse environmental conditions caused by fire. [With the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and supported by the Naval Research Laboratory]

 

In the future, the USFA NFDC research program will continue to examine emergent issues to further enhance firefighter health and safety as well as civilian life safety. The following are some areas in which the USFA plans to concentrate:

  • Smoke alarm technology
  • Structural collapse prediction technology (with a focus on lightweight construction)
  • Thermal performance enhancement of self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) face pieces
  • Personal Alert Safety System (PASS) distress alert signals
  • Firefighting tactics under wind-driven conditions
  • Apparatus response and roadway operations safety for firefighters and the motoring public
  • Residential sprinklers

 

In addition to the above, the USFA continues to support the DHS Science and Technology Directorate by providing technical expertise for its Integrated Product Team research programs in Emergency Responder Location and Tracking and Emergency Responder Physiological Monitoring, as well as serving as a member of the DHS Standards Council.

Additional information on the USFA’s current and future research and applied technology projects and partnerships can be found at http://www.usfa.dhs.gov/fireservice/research/index.shtm/.

BILL TROUP has served since 1990 as a fire program specialist at the United States Fire Administration (USFA), a part of FEMA and the Department of Homeland Security. Troup manages the USFA research programs in firefighter health and safety and other areas critical to the nation’s firefighting efforts. He is a firefighter with the Alpha Fire Company in Littlestown, Pennsylvania, and is a certified firefighter and fire instructor. He has a master’s degree in business administration (MBA) and is a veteran of the United States Air Force.

Firefighting Technology Research at NIST

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is home to the Advanced Fire Service Technology program based out of the Building and Fire Research Laboratory (BFRL). The program’s objective is to provide the measurement science and performance metrics critical for developing and implementing the new technology needed to improve firefighter and other emergency responders’ effectiveness and safety. This includes developing science-based standards and testing protocols, enabling an information-rich environment, developing firefighter training tools, and applying innovative technologies. In support of these objectives, NIST works with a wide range of federal, state, and local government partners and private sector organizations to facilitate the transfer of BFRL research into the hands of firefighters, training officers, incident commanders, and other emergency responders.

A few of the projects currently being conducted or recently completed are listed below.

Firefighter Safety and Deployment Study

Earlier this year, researchers from NIST spent two months measuring the effects of crew size (two, three, four, and five persons per fire apparatus) and apparatus arrival time (all engines arrive close together or arrive at longer intervals) on the fire conditions within a 4,000-square-foot, two-story duplex specially built to survive the repeated fire exposure. This “residence” was instrumented with sensors to monitor the interior temperatures and toxic gases. In addition, as the project proceeds, researchers will observe and time 22 different tasks performed on the fireground.


(1) Fire crews advance a hoseline toward the “residential” structure during an experiment. (Photos courtesy of the National Institute of Standards and Technology.)
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The results from these fireground experiments will complement a fire incident survey of 400 fire departments from across the country. Together, these two parts of the study will provide an overview of the incident outcomes, along with a detailed understanding of fireground effectiveness. If a third year of funding is awarded, the researchers will develop and validate a computer model that will allow local government decision makers to conduct “what-if” analyses to help them make informed choices about the deployment of resources for public and firefighter safety.


(2) Venting the second floor of the “residential” structure during an experiment.
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A broad coalition, in addition to NIST, is participating in the study: the Center for Public Safety Excellence; the Fairfax County (VA) Fire and Rescue Department; the International Association of Fire Fighters; the International Association of Fire Chiefs; the Montgomery County (MD) Fire and Rescue Service; the Urban Institute; and the Worcester Polytechnic Institute. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has provided a million dollars each of the two years of research through the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) program.

Performance Metrics for Thermal Imaging Cameras

Thermal imaging cameras (TICs) have become an important tool for firefighters and other first responders. However, because of the lack of performance standards for TICs, a wide variety of designs and capabilities are provided to end users with little consistency in reported performance. To understand the performance characteristics of TICs during firefighting applications, a set of performance metrics and standard testing protocols had to be developed to allow the fire service to evaluate TICs. With the support of the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) and DHS, NIST has been conducting research to characterize and understand TIC performance.

This work began with an assessment of firefighters’ thermal imaging needs and activities. Existing standards were collected and reviewed to ensure that the recommended testing conditions in this work are consistent with standards for other first responder equipment exposed to similar operating conditions, as well as standards and test protocols on infrared cameras used in other applications, when appropriate. A survey of the literature was also performed to explore existing work in which the fire environment was well characterized and pertinent to TIC testing.

The consolidation of all of this information—first responder feedback, literature search, and full- and bench-scale testing results—provided a basis for defining testing conditions that challenge TICs in meaningful ways. Performance metrics that describe TIC image contrast, effective temperature range, spatial resolution, image nonuniformity, and thermal sensitivity were selected or developed, based on an analysis of the information gathered. These imaging performance metrics and test methods were provided to standards development organizations, such as the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and ASTM International. The NFPA’s Technical Committee on Electronic Safety Equipment has incorporated these metrics and test protocols in a draft version of NFPA 1801, Standard on Thermal Imagers for the Fire Service. The final report, NIST Technical Note 1499 Performance Metrics for Fire Fighting Thermal Imaging Cameras—Small- and Full-Scale Experiments, authored by Amon, Bryner, Lock, and Hamins, can be downloaded at http://fire.nist.gov/bfrlpubs/fire08/PDF/f08017.pdf/.

NIST is continuing to work closely with the NFPA Technical Committee on Electronic Safety Equipment and the U.S. Army’s Night Vision Laboratory to develop test methods to support and enable TIC performance standards. Given that a TIC is composed of a number of components that affect what a firefighter “sees,” this effort has gone beyond the NIST Fire Research Division and has tapped the expertise of the NIST Physics Laboratory as well as the NIST Electronics and Electrical Engineering Laboratory. The NFPA plans to present the standard for public vote at its 2009 Annual Meeting.

Firefighter Protective Clothing

NIST participated in a research program led by North Carolina State University (NCSU) and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health National Personal Protective Technology Laboratory (NIOSH/NPPTL) with support from the Fire Protection Research Foundation (FPRF) and funding from the DHS/FEMA AFG program.

The study’s objective was to develop experimental data that would be useful to the NFPA technical committee that is considering stored energy testing and performance requirements for inclusion into NFPA 1971, Standard on Protective Ensembles for Structural Fire Fighting. The report, Thermal Capacity of Fire Fighting Protective Clothing, describes research conducted to develop a better understanding of the performance of materials used in firefighter protective clothing (turnout gear).

The study evaluated the transmission of heat and thermal energy storage in moist samples of material exposed to low-level radiant heat. The study used a new laboratory apparatus developed by NCSU to generate data on a range of materials used in the construction of firefighter protective clothing. The report can be downloaded from the FPRF Web site, http://www.nfpa.org/assets/files//PDF/Research
/PPE_Thermal_Energy.pdf/
.

NIST continues with a research program on reactive cooling systems and nanocomposite fabrics for use in firefighter protective clothing. The reactive cooling systems are proposed to work by adding a layer of phase-change materials (changes from solid to liquid as it absorbs heat) to the lining of the turnout gear. As heat is added to the protective clothing in a fire environment, the energy would be absorbed by the phase-change material to delay the thermal penetration. Once the phase-change material has absorbed enough energy to change state, then the heat wave would continue to the person inside the PPE. As an example of phase change, consider a piece of wax. When the wax is heated (absorbs thermal energy), it changes from a solid to a liquid. When the wax cools (loses thermal energy), it changes back to a solid.

Wind-Driven Fires in Structures

NIST, with the support of the FPRF, the DHS/FEMA AFG program, and the USFA, conducted a series of fire experiments to examine the impact of wind on fire spread through a multiroom structure and examined the capabilities of wind-control devices (WCD) and externally applied water to mitigate the hazard. The measurements used to examine the impact of the WCDs and the external water application tactics were heat release rate, temperature, heat flux, and gas velocity inside the structure. Oxygen, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, total hydrocarbons, and differential pressures were also measured. Each of the experiments was recorded with video and thermal imaging cameras. It is not practical or affordable to make critical measurements, such as heat release rate, in an acquired structure, hence the need to build a structure and conduct the experiments within the confines of the NIST Large Fire Facility. These experiments also provided visual documentation of fire phenomena that are not typically observable on the fireground.


(3) A wind-driven bedroom fire just prior to deployment of a wind-control device (WCD).
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A limited series of heat release rate experiments were conducted to characterize the fuel load packages used in wind-driven structure experiments. Both the bedroom and the living room contained a fuel load composed of furnishings with an average peak heat release rate of 7.8 megawatts (MW) with a total heat release of at least 1,700 megajoules (MJ), not accounting for any of the wooden furniture or interior finish materials.

The experiments were designed to expose a public corridor area to a wind-driven, post-flashover apartment fire. The door from the apartment to the corridor was open for each of the experiments. The conditions in the corridor were of critical importance because that is the portion of the building firefighters would use to approach the fire apartment or occupants from an adjoining apartment would use to exit the building.


(4) This photo was taken just after deployment of a WCD over the window opening. The WCD stopped the impact of the 15- to 20-mile-per-hour wind, generated by an airboat, on the fire.
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The fires were ignited in the bedroom of the apartment. Prior to the failure or venting of the bedroom window, which was on the upwind side of the experimental apartment, the heat release rate from the fire was on the order of 1 MW. Prior to implementing either of the mitigating tactics, the heat release rates from the post-flashover structure fire were typically between 15 and 20 MW. When the door from the apartment to the corridor was open, temperatures in the corridor area near the open doorway, 1.52 m (5.00 ft) below the ceiling, were in excess of 600°C (1,112°F) for each of the experiments. The heat fluxes measured in the same location during the same experiments were in excess of 70 kW/m². These extreme thermal conditions are not tenable, even for a firefighter in full protective gear, and were attained within 30 seconds of the window failure.

Eight experiments were conducted to demonstrate the “extreme” thermal conditions that can be generated by a “simple room and contents” fire and how these conditions can be extended along a flow path within a structure when wind and an open vent are present. Two potential tactics that could be implemented from either the floor above the fire in the case of a WCD or from the floor below the fire in the case of the external water application were demonstrated to be effective in reducing the thermal hazard in the corridor. However, these experimental results also indicate that the post deployment thermal conditions for any single tactic were still of a level that could pose a hazard to firefighters in full PPE.


(5) Suppression of a wind-driven fire with an external hose stream. The water introduced into the bedroom window opening provided cooling throughout the apartment structure.
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The experiments also provided potential guidance for firefighters as a part of a fire size-up and approach to the room of fire origin: Note wind conditions in the area of the fire, look for “pulsing flames,” examine smoke conditions around closed doors in the potential flow path, and maintain control of doors in the flow path. The report on the laboratory experiments, NIST Technical Note 1618, Fire Fighting Tactics Under Wind Driven Conditions: Laboratory Experiments, by Madrzykowski and Kerber, can be downloaded from http://fire.nist.gov/bfrlpubs/fire09/PDF/f09002.pdf.

NIST is completing the follow-up report on the wind-driven tests conducted in a seven-story building with the Fire Department of New York and the Polytechnic Institute of New York University with the support of the DHS/FEMA Assistance to Firefighters Research and Development Grant Program and the USFA. The objective of the experiments in the fire resistive apartment buildings were to understand the ability of firefighters to implement the use of WCD and external water application tactics; to examine the thermal conditions throughout the structure, such as in stairwells; and to examine the interaction of these tactics with natural and positive pressure ventilation building ventilation strategies. For updates on this NIST project and others, check www.fire.nist.gov and www.fire.gov/.—NIST-BFRL staffs; special thanks to Daniel Madrzykowski, fire protection engineer.

MARY JANE DITTMAR is senior associate editor of Fire Engineering and FDIC conference manager. Before joining the magazine in January 1991, she served as editor of a trade magazine in the health/nutrition market and held various positions in the educational and medical advertising fields. She has a bachelor’s degree in English/journalism and a master’s degree in communication arts.

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