Fire Engineering Training Community

Where firefighters come to talk training

Take some time to keep-up with research that is important to all of us.

Often, we get caught-up in seeking information about tactics and task level training needs and desires. Additionally, a lot our members (especially the younger ones) spend a significant amount of searching the Internet for dramatic fire “videos”. Don’t get me wrong, there is value to both of these pursuits. However, I would also encourage all members from all age and seniority groups to spend more time looking at, reading and learning from several on-going research projects that have real significance to the fire service

For example, the research work NIST (National Institute for Standards and Technology) has been conducting in the past several years including their work on PPV, thermal imaging, wind-driven fires, turn-out gear (and more) have and continue to provide the fire service with valuable information and equally valuable ammunition.

One of their current projects, funded by a FIRE Act grant and in cooperation with the Worcester Polytechnic Institute, the Fairfax County (Va.) Fire and Rescue Department; the International Association of Fire Chiefs; the International Association of Fire Fighters and the Montgomery County (Md.) Fire and Rescue Service, is examining the effect of firefighting crew sizes and equipment arrival times on fire growth rates and a person’s ability to survive in a structure-related building fire. They are studying how two, three, four and five person crews perform the same tasks on the fire ground.

This is indeed an important study that will be backed by the credibility and reputation of NIST. Similar studies have been conducted in the past; however, they were not all recieved as credible by elected officials. Hopefully, this will remove or at least lessen the usual grievances from our elected officials about the “self-serving” nature of our current “propaganda”. Will this NIST study will finally give us the “science” to substantiate the "anecdotal" information and "less quantitative" studies that have been the mainstay of our arguments and discussions with our elected officials for years? My hope is that the good work already done in Dallas, Seattle, Boston, Providence the by IAFF and others will be validated and the results will help further our cause.

The fight will continue; however, perhaps armed with science rather than “more of the same burning baby stuff”, we will be able to make some head-way on minimum manning, reinstating companies, re-opening closed firehouses and opening new ones. Our duty and obligation is to provide efficient, effective and professional fire and rescue services and I believe this study will help us to move forward with that agenda. And as you know, all of these things are good for the citizens we serve, and therefore, good for us. Follow the link below for additional information.

There is much discussion on this and other training sites related to Firefighter deaths and injuries as well as fitness and wellness and the relationship between these issues. There are two studies that should be of particular interest to all firefighters because of the groundbreaking research being conducted and the eye-opening data being produced by each.

The Illinois Fire Service Institute has produced their report of the “Cardiovascular and Biomechanical Responses to Fire Fighting and PPE”. This research project provides a review of the known research and new and important findings concerning the interrelationship of cardiovascular function, biomechanics and the design of personal protective equipment. This research provides valuable insight into the issues; however, the study needs to be read, understood and changes in our behavior will have to be enacted in order to realize the true value of this study. Denise Smith, Ph.D. is a co-author of this important study and coincidently, she is also a member of this training community. I’m sure she would be happy to field your questions and/or fill in the blanks after you read the study. Please use the link below to download and read the report.

Indiana University researchers in the Department of Kinesiology received a Fire Act grant, providing the necessary funding to examine the toll firefighting takes on firefighters' cardiovascular and respiratory health. With any luck, the results will provide the “science” needed to make improvements in firefighter health and safety. The goal, is to reduce the number of firefighter deaths that occur in the line of duty

Early results found that cardiovascular stress hit peak levels at fires where civilians or other firefighters faced imminent danger. During one fire, in which firefighters worked to rescue a mother and three children trapped in a burning house, five firefighters had heart rates at or above their predicted maximum for more than 30 minutes, project leader Jim Brown said. "If I hadn't seen the data myself, I would have a hard time — as a physiologist — believing it was true," Brown said.

For more information on the Indiana University study, follow the link.

Finally, Underwriters Laboratories has developed their UL University to showcase some of their work on issues of importance to firefighters. Structural stability of engineered lumber in fire conditions provides a two-hour presentation summarizing a research study on the hazards posed to firefighters by the use of lightweight construction and engineered lumber in floor and roof designs. There is also some revealing information regarding the use of thermal imaging. I think the key here is to know the capabilities and limitations of all of the tools at your disposal. The TIC is a wonderful tool; however, it is limited. The TIC should not become a crutch and should not be expected to provide information that is not capable of providing. The TIC reads surface temperatures and as demonstrated in the UL studies, even with severe fire conditions below the floor, the surface temps on top of the finished floors were quite low in comparison. I think this study will change some department's tactics if they relied upon the TIC to warn of conditions above or below.

For more information, follow the link.

So Brothers and Sisters, take some time to look over these research studies, there is valuable information contained therein. As you seek continuous improvement for yourself and your members, don’t overlook the “boring” stuff

Views: 267


You need to be a member of Fire Engineering Training Community to add comments!

Join Fire Engineering Training Community

Comment by Michael Bricault (ret) on February 10, 2009 at 1:13pm
-I am pleased to see the NIST study happening on the efficiency and safety in relation to staffing. As Art has pointed out, we need to get involved.
-Unfortunately, those that do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it. And spend money on the lessons. Case in point; the cities of Boston, Seattle, Dallas and Providence RI have all performed quantitative studies and evaluations regarding manpower in relation to efficiency and safety over the last 20 years. The information is already there, the same studies have already been performed and the results have always been the same. 4 man companies are an absolute minimum, 3 are unsafe and very inefficient, 5 firefighters per company is better and 6 firefighters per company is ideal.
-Do people forget these studies have been completed or are they repeated to help someone get a master's degree or is the hope that maybe the results will change in favor of the city bean counters?
-This is exactly what Art is talking about because we don't get involved enough. So who is to blame? We all are for not knowing more about our profession.
Comment by Gary Rauch on February 8, 2009 at 7:39pm
Thanks Art, I will look at these links on duty tommorrow and will be passed to our training division and the executive board of our union.
Comment by Ed Dagdick on February 8, 2009 at 2:20pm
Thanks Art,as always great info being passed on. Lot's of good 'boring' info to keep us safer, informed, educated, alive & chance to maintain a quality life after we 'retire'. Do we ever 'really' retire though? Thanks again
Comment by Jeff Schwering on February 7, 2009 at 8:50pm
Glad to see you bring this up Art! We are looking at cuts right now, due finances of our city. The NIST study will hopefully help us. We are looking at 3 man engines as the norm. To me these are far from boring. The trick is to convince others including the bosses to read and fully understand the importance of the studies. If only the "True Brothers and Sisters" of our job read these, we fall back to trying to educate some folks, from Chief to probie, all over again.


Policy Page


Our contributors' posts are not vetted by the Fire Engineering technical board, and reflect the views and opinions of the individual authors. Anyone is welcome to participate.

For vetted content, please go to

Fire Engineering Editor in Chief Bobby Halton
We are excited to have you participate in our discussions and interactive forums. Before you begin posting, please take a moment to read our policy page. -- Bobby Halton

Be Alert for Spam
We actively monitor the community for spam, however some does slip through. Please use common sense and caution when clicking links. If you suspect you've been hit by spam, e-mail

FE Podcasts

Check out the most recent episode and schedule of

© 2021   Created by fireeng.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service