Fire Engineering Residential Fire Simulation: High-Rise Dormitory Fire

Sponsored by

Simulation by Battalion Chief Frank Montagna, FDNY, Deputy Chief Stephen Kerber, College Park (MD) Fire Department, and CommandSim

You arrive on the scene of a working fire on the seventh floor of a local college dormitory. The weather is dry, sunny, and calm…

Note: this simulation allows you to pressurize a stairwell using positive pressure, and practice using an elevator to review your high-rise procedures.











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The scenario and accompanying materials have been designed by Frank Montagna, Battalion Chief, FDNY, and Stephen Kerber, Deputy Chief, College Park (MD) Fire Department. The technical development and production was done by CommandSim. All materials may not be copied or distributed without the expressed, written permission of Fire Engineering and the PennWell Corporation, copyright 2009, all rights reserved.




About Stephen Kerber, Deputy Chief, College Park (MD) Fire Department

Steve is the Deputy Chief and Training Officer of the College Park Volunteer Fire Department in Prince George’s County, Maryland. His department is first due to the University of Maryland and responds to over 4,000 fire and emergency medical calls each year. He has 12 years firefighting experience and teaches ventilation tactics and fire dynamics presentations all over the world.


Steve Kerber is also a Fire Research Engineer in the Corporate Research Division at Underwriters Laboratories (UL). Steve works on projects to include: Research to improve fire fighter safety, next generation smoke detectors, fire service thermal imaging camera research, sprinkler spray measurements, and smoke management fire modeling. This includes working with stakeholders such as the Chicago Fire Department, University of Maryland, National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF), International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC), National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA), and United States Fire Administration (USFA). Steve also provides liaison support between UL and the fire service, as UL is committed to the safety of the fire service. Steve received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in fire protection engineering from the University of Maryland. He also recently became a licensed Professional Engineer in the State of Maryland.

Prior to joining Underwriters Laboratories, Steve spent seven years in the Firefighting Technology Group at NIST conducting research to improve the safety and effectiveness of the fire service. He led research on fire department ventilation tactics, specifically positive pressure ventilation and tactics to mitigate wind driven structure fires. He has completed numerous experimental series ranging from furnished rooms in the laboratory to live fire experiments in high-rise buildings. Steve brought together positive pressure fan manufacturers from all over the country and fire departments such as Chicago, New York, Toledo and Ottawa to participate in these experiments. In 2007, Steve led a series of experiments in a 16-story high-rise apartment building in Chicago to examine the use of fans to protect the stairwells from smoke infiltration, increasing safety for occupant egress as well as fire department operations. In 2008, he led a series of experiments with the Fire Department of New York examining wind driven fires and the fire fighting strategies that are available to mitigate them. Steve has published all of his results and has shared them at fire department and engineering conferences around the world. While at NIST, Steve was awarded two Department of Commerce bronze medals and a gold medal for his research.

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