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Predictability and Performance of Buildings on Fire

Predictability and Performance of Buildings on Fire

When we look at various buildings and occupancies, past operational experiences (both good and bad) give us experiences that define and determine how we assess, react and expect similar structures and occupancies to perform at a given alarm in the future. The theory of naturalistic decision-making forms much of this basis. The Art and Science of Firefighting is predicated on a fundamental understanding of how fire affects a building and its occupants; and in the manner in which the Fire Service engages when called upon to combat a structure fire.

We predicate with certain expectations that fire will travel in a defined (predictable) manner;
• That the building will react and perform under assumptions of past performance and outcomes
•That fire will hold within a room and compartment for a predictable given duration of time;
•That the fire load and related fire flows required will be appropriate for an expected size and severity of fire encountered within a given building, occupancy, structural system
•And given an appropriately trained and skilled staff to perform the requisite evolutions; we can safely and effectively mitigate a structural fire situation in any given building type and occupancy.
•We assume we will have the adequacy of time to conduct and employ the required tasks identified to be of importance based upon identified or assumed indicators,
•That the building will conform to the rules of firefighting engagement

Today’s incident demands on the fireground are unlike those of the recent past, requiring incident commanders; commanding and company officers and firefighters alike, to have increased technical knowledge of building construction with a heightened sensitivity to fire behavior and fire dynamics, a focus on operational structural stability of the compartment and building envelope and considerations related to occupancy risk versus the occupancy type.

Understanding the building;  its complexities in terms of building anatomy, structural systems, building materials, configuration, design, layout, systems, protectives, methods of construction, engineering and inherent features, limitations, challenges and risks are fundamental for operational excellence on the fireground and firefighter safety.

Our buildings have changed; the structural systems of support, the degree of compartmentation, the characteristics of materials and the magnitude of the fire loading package. All of our buildings, structures and occupancies; new and old alike have new operating parameters and considerations that must be identified and assimilated into preparedness, training and operations. - See the complete article posted on PennWell's FireEMSBlog

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