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Results of UL Fire Attack Studies Published

Underwriters Laboratories Firefighter Safety Research Institute (ULFSRI) last week released their three reports on the Fire Attack Study - Water Mapping, Air Entrainment, and Full Scale Experiments. They can be accessed from the Fire Engineering home page, or at www.ulfirefightersafety.org. These were the experiments that looked at the effects of interior attack, among other things, in order to provide more realistic comparisons amongst tactics that were developed in the “lab”, but which are practiced in the “street”. Those of us who advocate for MFA concepts have been impatiently awaiting these findings, and might view them as an early Christmas present; while those opposed to the changes, or merely dreading the thought of sifting through yet another avalanche of information, might instead see it all as a late Halloween scare. Regardless, it’s out there for all to see, discuss, and put to use.

As we collectively explore this vast trove of observations and measurements, I would direct readers’ attention to the listing of advisors who guided this project throughout, and who collaborated to develop the recommendations that were synthesized from the data. They include industry leaders and street-smart firefighters, from large departments and small, and represent a cross-section of the fire service. Two names in particular stood out to me: Aaron Fields of the Seattle Fire Department, and Ray McCormack of the Fire Department of New York, firefighters who have literally “written the book” on performing interior extinguishment operations. I have also attended classes taught by each of them, and can attest to their depth of practical knowledge. Having these masters of the hose stretch attach their names to this research indicates to me the level of authenticity that was brought to the scenarios and methods that were studied, and the confidence with which the recommendations should be viewed.

You should have no doubt that much of the “discoveries” included in these reports will find their way onto these pages in the coming months, and I have managed merely a cursory review so far. Still, I have already found that at least one of the methods I had been promoting (spraying water into heated smoke and listening for the “sizzle or splat” to gauge the temperature) has been discredited, while the vast majority (early water, late ventilation) have been, in general, supported. The only thing predictable about research, of course, is that it will will provide new insights.

MJC

The author can be reached at markjcotter@comcast.net

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