This page contains a list of Fire Prevention and Safety (FP&S) Research and Development (R&D) Grants awarded for Fiscal Year (FY) 2015. The content is useful for those in the fire service seeking information about to how to improve the safety and health of firefighters.
Revolutionizing the Protective Hood: Particulate Protection, Cleaning Effectiveness
|Project Title:||Revolutionizing the Protective Hood: Particulate Protection, Cleaning Effectiveness|
|Organization:||North Carolina State University|
|Principle Investigator:||Roger Barker, PhD|
|Period of Performance:||07/28/2016 - 07/27/2019|
PURPOSE & AIMS
To enhance the safety of firefighters by developing a systems-level methodology for evaluating protective hood materials and designs for protection against toxic smoke particles while providing acceptable wear comfort and thermal protection. The trade-offs associated with particulate and flash fire protection and heat stress will be assessed and used as basis for identifying protective hoods systems that will provide the firefighter with barrier protection while also minimizing thermal strain. An inexpensive field-level particulate demonstration will be developed in conjunction Boston Fire Department that will serve as a training and awareness tool that can be adopted at fire departments across the country
Analyses of fire ground exposures and cancers in firefighters have exposed limitations in current hoods. The NFPA 1971 standard on firefighter PPE does not have requirements in place to evaluate particulate protection or thermal heat stress associated with hoods. This research will provide the technical basis for performance criteria and evaluation methodologies for hoods as well as their durability and cleaning effectiveness
Material and product level methods will be utilized to study the effects of particulate resistant materials and innovative designs on the ability of the protective system to mitigate exposure to smoke particulates while providing breathability to reduce heat stress. NCSU’s unique suite of instrumented upper body manikin systems will provide unprecedented evaluation levels specific to protective hoods that will be validated against live-fire field assessments.
This research will contribute to improve firefighter protection from dermal exposures to smoke contaminants; balance thermal protective, ergonomic, and stability requirements by providing validated methodologies and performance criteria that will serve as a basis for optimizing the protective performance of hood constructions that manufacturers offer to the firefighter.
Study of Coordinated Fire Attack in Acquired Structures
|Project Title:||Study of Coordinated Fire Attack in Acquired Structures|
|Organization:||Underwriters Laboratories Inc.|
|Principle Investigator:||Stephen Kerber MS, PE|
|Period of Performance:||07/29/2016 - 07/28/2019|
Many departments in the fire service are in the midst of revamping their tactics in order to adapt to the changing fire environment identified through previous research studies. These tactical changes require an evaluation of the principles of fire service operations, specifically ventilation and suppression. Many fire departments are working to revise standard operating procedures; however they lack the data to define what successful coordinated fire attack is and how to best provide their members with guidance on how to operate effectively while allowing enough room for decision making on the fireground based on the conditions the crews encounter. Every fire attack requires coordination whether a single crew or several crews are on scene, whether in a rural or urban environment or whether career or volunteer firefighters are responding to the structure fire. Understanding what makes coordination successful or not is relevant to the entire fire service
The purpose of this study is to improve fire service knowledge of fire dynamics and the impact of their tactics through a better understanding of how suppression and ventilation are coordinated on the fire ground in different types of structures. This project will expand on previous research studies. This will assist in the development of thinking firefighters with a good foundation in fire dynamics and understanding of how their decision making will impact their safety and effectiveness. Coordination of fire attack is continuously cited in NIOSH LODD reports and fire service training materials but it is not well defined or explained. This study aims to provide the data necessary to understand the parameters of a successful coordinated fire attack so that firefighters become more effective and efficient on every fireground across the country.
Using acquired structures, several different fire scenarios will be tested using tactics that include horizontal, vertical and positive pressure ventilation, interior only and combined interior/exterior fire attack. Measurements will be taken of gas temperatures, heat flux, flow velocities, differential pressure, gas concentrations, and moisture content throughout the structure along with recording standard and infrared video of the experiments. The fire service has historically been concerned with the potential negative effect on trapped occupants when steam is created via exterior water application. This study 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 skin samples in various rooms and locations to simulate potential human exposure to elevated temperature and humidity. In addition they will provide moisture measurements to identify the effectiveness of the coordination between ventilation and suppression as it relates to steam production. This study will utilize full-scale field acquired structure experimental methods. Fuel loads will be representative of “real” fuels found in structures across the country. Fuels will be consistent across experimental series so that coordinated fire attacks can be compared. The fire service technical panel will determine the tactics that will be coordinated and how they will be coordinated to accomplish life safety, property conservation and incident stabilization strategic objectives. The variables of tactics, timing of tactics and coordination of tactics will be carefully controlled so that learning is maximized. Connections will be made between each of the research projects conducted to date as well as between the three series of experiments proposed. Utilizing structures that range from single family to multi-family to commercial will allow for the understanding of which tactics and fire dynamics are independent of structure type and which are dependent on the structure type.
The data collected from the fire experiments will provide firefighters with knowledge about how tactical choices and coordination of ventilation and suppression impact conditions through the structure where they are operating. This knowledge will allow fire officers to make informed decisions regarding methods to suppress 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 skin and moisture content will provide important conclusions for the safety of firefighters and occupants. This should lead to better decision making on the fireground and more effective and efficient firefighting. Results will also provide a much needed expansion into multifamily and commercial structures where data is needed to substantiate structural firefighting guidance being drafted for NFPA 1700.
The Firefighter Multicenter Cancer Cohort Study: Framework Development and Testing
|Project Title:||The Firefighter Multicenter Cancer Cohort Study: Framework Development and Testing|
|Organization:||Arizona Board of Regents, University of Arizona|
|Principle Investigator:||Jefferey Burgess, MD, MPH|
|Period of Performance:||07/20/2016 - 07/19/2019|
Cancer is a leading cause of fire service morbidity and mortality, and a recent National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health study demonstrated an excess mortality rate for cancer in firefighters compared with the general population (Daniels et al., 2014). Firefighters are exposed to multiple carcinogens in the workplace through skin contamination and inhalation. However, we currently do not understand which individual exposures are responsible for cancer in firefighters, the mechanisms by which these exposures cause cancer, or effective means of reducing exposures. Since cancer has a long latency period, biomarkers are also needed that can measure the effects of carcinogen exposure well before the development of cancer, when interventions to prevent disease could be effective. Development of a large (>10,000 firefighter) multicenter firefighter cancer prospective cohort study will address these needs, but the framework for such a study needs to be first developed and tested among a smaller initial set of fire service partners.
The purpose of the proposed research is to develop and test a framework for establishing a long-term firefighter multicenter prospective cohort study focused on carcinogenic exposures and effects. The specific aims are to: 1) Establish an oversight and planning board to provide study oversight, foster communication among fire organizations and help develop a long-term funding plan; 2) Create and test a cohort study data coordinating center and harmonized survey data protocols; 3) Develop and evaluate an exposure tracking system paired with quantitative exposure data to construct a firefighter carcinogen exposure matrix; and 4) Create a biomarker analysis center and evaluate the association between cumulative firefighter exposures and epigenetic effects.
The study will build on recent and developing firefighter cancer prevention studies in Arizona, Florida and Massachusetts, adding volunteer and combination fire departments. 1) An Oversight and Planning Board will be established by the Fire Protection Research Foundation in association with the NFFF Fire Service Occupational Cancer Alliance to provide oversight of the study through collaboration among fire service organizations, academia, and government agencies, and develop a long-term funding and sustainability plan. 2) A Data Coordination Center will design, develop and evaluate a framework for a multicenter prospective cohort study of firefighters and cancer risk, including standardized participant survey data collection tools and analysis protocols sufficient to address the short- and long-term study objectives as well as linkage with long-term outcome data including cancer development. 3) An Exposure Assessment Center will develop a carcinogen exposure matrix using information gleaned from self-reported and quantitative exposure measurements to provide improved occupational exposure data for comparison with epigenetic outcomes and eventual cancer outcomes. Carcinogen exposures associated with specific fire types and job tasks will be evaluated across fire departments through exhaled breath monitoring and analysis of urine for absorbed contaminants, providing information to guide exposure reduction strategies. 4) The Biomarker Analysis Center will carry out pilot studies of epigenetic markers of cancer effect and cancer risk comparing firefighters with a range of cumulative exposures and non-firefighter controls. For these purposes, blood and buccal cells will be collected during annual medical surveillance evaluations. .
The proposed research will: establish the framework necessary for the subsequent development of a large multicenter cohort study of cancer in the fire service; advance our understanding of firefighter exposures to carcinogens; and help identify biomarkers of carcinogen effect and cancer risk.
Feeding America's Bravest: Mediterranean Diet-based Interventions to Change Firefighters' Eating Habits and Improve Cardiovascular Risk Profiles
|Project Title:||Health and Wellness of Women Firefighters|
|Organization:||National Development and Research Institutes, Inc.|
|Principle Investigator:||Sara Jahnke, PhD|
|Period of Performance:||07/20/2016 - 07/19/2019|
The low number of and difficulty accessing women in the fire service has resulted in almost no information on female firefighters, despite evidence that significant gender-specific health concerns exist. Fire service leadership and health care professionals have no data on which to base important decisions about how to protect the health and safety of women in their departments. This study is the first step toward addressing this gap and correcting a critical omission.
While firefighter health research has experienced exponential growth over the past decade, the published literature has focused almost exclusively on males. The lack of data on how firefighting impacts women has been hypothesized to negatively impact recruitment, retention, and job satisfaction. Particularly lacking are details about female-specific health concerns (e.g. reproductive cancers, reproductive health, safety of breastfeeding). We also address other critical areas of concern including cancer, injury, and behavioral health issues among both career and volunteer female firefighters.
Data will be collected as part of a longitudinal cohort study of critical issues as well as a chemical analysis of breastmilk. Based on these data, an expert panel will develop model policies and recommendations for protecting the health and safety of women in the fire service.
This study will result in foundational data on the health and safety of female firefighters and will develop model policy and practice recommendations for fire departments. The information from this research will provide an empirical foundation for decisions by both firefighters and management on appropriate measures to protect the health of current and future female firefighters.
Development of Real-time Particulate and Toxic-gas Sensors for Firefighter Health and Safety
|Project Title:||Synthesizing/Disseminating New Scientific Insights into Transient Wildfire Behavior|
|Organization:||University Corporation for Atmospheric Research|
|Principle Investigator:||Janice Coen, PhD|
|Period of Performance:||07/20/2016 - 07/19/2019|
The purpose of this project is to improve wildland firefighter safety and reduce burnovers and entrapments by improving understanding of under-recognized, transient, difficult to understand weather-fire behavior combinations that are currently not well represented in static, two-dimensional training material. Examples include the impact of gust fronts and shifting winds on fire behavior, fire-induced winds, large fire whirls, transient plume behavior, coastal airflows, and complex topographic airflow effects.
Guided by other fire scientists and practitioners from different geographical regions and agencies, we will use CAWFE, a coupled numerical weather prediction-wildland fire behavior model, to simulate several wildland fire events containing transient, hazardous fire behavior that led to (or could have led to) firefighter entrapment. We will visualize and narrate the output, creating engaging, three-dimensional, time dependent animations.
This project will generate knowledge on how complex atmospheric flows interact with fire behavior, infuse it further within the wildland fire community, and create high impact narrated animations that complement and enhance existing training material. Our team would then disseminate knowledge through research, education, and training within the wildland firefighting and scientific community through publications in professional society publications, practitioner journals, firefighter training, university class lessons, and safety-oriented conferences, as well as social media outlets including a wildland firefighter blog, narrated animations, webinars, and briefings.
We anticipate that these phenomena and behaviors that are considered unpredictable can be reproduced when fine-scale airflows and fire-induced winds are captured. Outflows will be enhanced by fire-induced winds.