Before he takes the podium as FDIC 2012’s keynote speaker on Thursday morning, Chicago (IL) Fire Department (CFD) District Chief Peter Van Dorpe conducted this Tuesday afternoon workshop designed to aid instructors and firefighters in identifying and developing new curriculum and tactics for fighting fires in modern residential construction.
Assisted by CFD’s James Dalton, Van Dorpe used a series of photos and renderings to show the wide variety of modern construction buildings that attack crews must identify before deciding to make egress.
Perhaps the most interesting and jarring (as well as gasp-inducing) presentation was the viewing of a series of National Institute of Standards and Technology’s Wind-Driven Fire Experiment videos which revealed the increasingly rapid combustibility of these building materials; fire quickly and completely engulfed the walls of the test building, creating a downward spiral effect and fast vertical fire spread as simulated wind gusts created an even more dangerous scenario consisting of backdrafts and swirling fire.
Van Dorpe then warned students of the effectiveness of their turnout gear,saying, “It doesn’t matter how tough you are. Your gear is going to give up.”
Dalton continued the discussion by presenting the characteristics of legacy and modular construction and its engineered lumber components, which, despite them being light-weight and energy-efficient, are more susceptible to fire spread than older construction.