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Fire Prevention & Safety Research & Development Grants - 2013 Grant Awards - 00644

This page contains information about Fire Prevention and Safety (FP&S) Research and Development (R&D) Grant number EMW-2013-FP-00644. The content is useful for those in the fire service seeking information about to how to improve the safety and health of firefighters.

Fiscal Year (FY) 2013 Data
Project Title:Study of the Impact of Fire Attack Utilizing Interior and Exterior Streams on Firefighter Safety and Occupant Survival
Organization:Underwriters Laboratories, Inc.
Principle Investigator:Stephen Kerber, MS
Grant Number:EMW-2013-FP-00644
Award Total:$1,447,682.00
Period of Performance:08/01/2014 – 07/31/2017
Grant Status:Closed



This study will build on the research conducted to date on fire service ventilation and suppression tactics (e.g., interior suppression versus "transitional attack") to provide a comprehensive assessment of firefighting tactics on chemical and thermal exposures for victims trapped within a structure, and the firefighters advancing toward the fire or operating in other parts of the structure. While research at Underwriters Laboratories (UL) and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has shown transitional fire attack to be a viable option for rapid knockdown of a large volume of fire, there remains some hesitation to adopt the tactic for fear of endangering trapped victims and pushing heat and steam. Fire service adages such as "don't put water on smoke" and "you will steam the victims" will be examined in detail in the context of today's modern fire environment to provide credible scientific information that can improve decision making on the fire ground.


Provide the fire service with scientific based knowledge on the impact of interior and transitional fire attack tactics on firefighter safety and trapped occupants to improve training and decision making on the fire ground. This project aims to expand on previous research studies (2008 DHS - Impact of Ventilation on Fire Behavior in Legacy and Contemporary Residential Construction, 2010 DHS - Effectiveness of Fire Service Vertical Ventilation and Suppression Tactics and 2012 FDNY, NIST, UL Partnership - Governors Island Experiments) that examined fire dynamics and water application and to examine the fire service questions that have arisen as a result of these studies and anecdotes of fire service experiences. Using common modern home furnishings and building layouts, along with state of the art measurement technology, this project will provide the most comprehensive study of the fire environment to continue to improve fire service scientific evidence on which to base tactical decisions.


Using full-scale residential structures in UL’s Large Fire Laboratory, several different fire scenarios using tactics that include interior only and combined interior/exterior fire attack will be tested. Gas temperatures, heat flux, flow velocities, differential pressure, gas concentrations, and moisture content throughout the structure will be measured. The research will also include collaboration with the University of Illinois to develop data on the potential impact of fire conditions on firefighters and civilians. In order to accomplish their tasks, they will participate in UL led fire tests and introduce pig carcasses in various rooms and locations to simulate potential burn injury exposure to humans at elevated temperature and humidity. This will provide a more complete assessment of the impact of fire exposure and the impact of firefighter hose streams to trapped victims than currently available.

Anticipated Outcomes

We anticipate that the data collected from the fire experiments will provide firefighters with knowledge about how flow paths, nozzle pattern selection, and nozzle movement impact conditions through the structure they are operating at. This knowledge will allow fire officers to make informed decisions regarding methods to suppress residential structure fires and can significantly influence firefighter standard operating procedures and training. The fire test data generated (e.g., temperature, pressure, gas effluent, moisture) along with the complementary University of Illinois results on pig carcasses will provide important conclusions for the safety of firefighters and occupants.

Last Updated: 
06/07/2018 - 08:04