White Paper on Post-Fire Analysis Available from NFPA’s Fire Protection Research Foundation

Quincy, MA-The Research Advisory Council on Post-Fire Analysis of NFPA’s Fire Protection Research Foundation has issued a white paper on post-fire analysis in an effort to help improve the technical aspects of fire investigation. The paper, available without cost from the Foundation, is the first in a series of recommendations that will be issued from several other advisory councils, each assigned by the Foundation to examine one area of post-fire activity.

The paper, developed by an independent 14-member panel from industry, research, insurance, government, and the fire service, reviews the status of the techniques and knowledge base of post-fire investigations and presents recommendations addressing the research and development needs that the Council has identified. The Council’s aim is to prompt industry, insurance groups and researchers to move forward on initiatives to improve the technical aspects of fire investigation and analysis.

Post-fire analysis comprises a wide range of activities, aiming to identify where and how a given fire or group of fires started and the factors contributing to fire loss. The collected knowledge can be applied to reduce the future costs of fire in terms of casualties, property damage, product design and building regulations.

Traditionally, most post-fire analysis efforts have been focused on the origin and cause of fires with emphasis on civil and criminal litigation. But the basis for identification of fire origin and cause has evolved from practical knowledge rather than scientific research.

The Council identified five broad areas where progress is needed in post-fire analysis. These are:

  1. Origin and cause investigation methods
  2. Deaths, injuries, property losses and building costs
  3. Education, training and dissemination
  4. Environmental impacts of fire and fire protection
  5. Business impacts. The white paper addresses impact, research/development and benefit to groups from advances in these categories.
Research undertaken by the white paper’s recommendations could subsequently be incorporated into proposed new fire codes and standards or in the appendix of NFPA 921. The white paper is available free, in hard copy by contacting the Research Foundation at 617-984-7283, or in pdf format by logging on to NFPA’s Web site at www.nfpa.org/Foundation.

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