As most firefighters should know this week is National Fire Prevention Week . I am sure many of you are out spreading the message of Fire Prevention this week. I would like to say thank you for serving your communities and you will probably never know how many life’s were truly saved by your wonderful dedication to your communities.
So since it is Fire Prevention Week this post will be about this years Fire Prevention theme in the context of our modern fire environment.
The NFPA’s Fire Prevention Week is October 7-13, 2012. This year’s theme is “Have Two Ways Out” and focuses on the importance of fire escape planning and practice in the home.
In 2010, U.S. fire departments responded to 369,500 home structure fires. These fires caused 13,350 civilian injuries, 2,640 civilian deaths, and $6.9 billion in direct damage. One home structure was reported every 85 seconds in 2010.
Having Two Ways Out and being Rabbit Ready:
I must say I am actually excited that the NFPA theme this year is about Having Two Ways Out and being Rabbit Ready because it will fit perfect with a project I am working on and the message I have already been preaching locally here in my recent fire behavior and search classes.
So not to take anything away from this years theme but to only add too. I would to challenge everyone going out and doing Fire Prevention this week and from now on. To add a few more things to your presentations that I feel will save life’s and reflect the modern fire environment that we are faced with.
If you have been in the fire service more than a week you have probably heard someone say something like Today’s Fires have Changed! While this statement is usually said with good intentions it isn’t 100 percent accurate. Fires still require Heat,Fuel and Oxygen just like they did when the first Cave Man rubbed to sticks together However what has changed is Fire Behavior within a building.
These changes are a result of people having more stuff made of plastics and buildings being more airtight than ever before. So you are probably asking yourself by now what does this have to do with my next Fire Prevention program? The answer is real simple. We need to add one more step to Having Two Ways Out and being Rabbit Ready. CLOSE THE DOOR!
I think a very important part of fire escape planning we fail to convey is the need of civilians closing the door behind them on their way out!
So one might ask why is it so important to teach civilians to close the door?
Answer: Modern Building Construction + More Plastics = Extreme Fire Behavior
With these two changes firefighters need to have a better understanding more than ever before of how ventilation drastically affects fire development.
Today’s fires are Ventilation Limited due to having more hydrocarbon based fuels available and the structures are very airtight as well.
I am NOT a expert on Fire Behavior however want to share a few things I have gathered from many other experts as it pertains to Fire Behavior is modern buildings. The following will help you as a Fire Prevention presenter better understand why we need to stress the extra step of CLOSING THE DOOR!
Air Track *
Air Track: Air track is the movement of air and smoke as observed from the exterior and inside the structure. Air track is used to describe a group of fire behavior indicators that includes direction of smoke movement at openings (e.g., outward, inward, pulsing), velocity and turbulence, and movement of the lower boundary of the upper layer (e.g., up, down, pulsing).
Flow Path: In a compartment fire, flow path is the course of movement hot gases between the fire and exhaust openings and the movement of air towards the fire.
Flow path can significantly influence fire spread and the hazard presented to occupants and firefighters.
Now with a very basic understanding of how air majorly affects modern fire behavior lets look at a few more examples of the need to CLOSE THE DOOR!
This picture is from Thermal Imaging Camera view at a Kill The Flashover burn. KTF is great group that every firefighter needs to follow their research.
Look at how quick you change the fire environment by closing the door!
The next example is a very sad one where a brother of ours lost his life and it might have been prevented if the civilian had closed the door on their way out!
On January 19, 2011 we lost firefighter Mark Falkenhan of Baltimore County, Maryland. During this incident a fire started in the kitchen on a second-level apartment. Upon arrival, crews found heavy fire conditions present and fire extending into a common foyer area. The ventilation flow path allowed this fire to extend to an adjacent apartment on the third level where the LODD occurred.
The following pictures show how a door closed by a crew conducting VES on this incident made a major difference in that room.
Behind the CLOSED DOOR!
ATF FDS Analysis of 30 Dowling Circle videos:
I hope with the information I presented that you will now be willing to accept the challenge of updating your fire prevention program with one more step CLOSE THE DOOR!
I feel that by changing this public behavior we will save more life’s and keep fires more choked up in a early decay stage instead of the fire getting all the fresh air it needs grow and take over the entire structure before we have a chance to extinguish it.
I would love to hear the roof report from the crew who found this condition on the roof! LOL
Goats feed on oat grass on the roof at Siegel 's Cottonwood Farm in Crest Hill, IL on Thursday May 24, 2012. | Matt Marton~Sun-Times Media
Green Maltese had the privilege to teach about many hazards associated with Modern Roofs at FDIC 2012. We discussed Green Roofs and many challenges they present. However this is one surprise we didn’t cover and might just be the best ones yet.
Portland Fire RescueFirefighters knocked down a fire in a house with solar panels — which can’t be turned off — in less than 30 minutes. The panels were installed based on a new code written for just such a situation.Firefighters knocked down a fire in a Southeast Portland home this morning, maneuvering around solar panels that pose a threat of electrocution.
The operation went smoothly, with the fire brought under control in less than 30 minutes thanks to the solar panel installation, said Paul Corah, spokesman for Portland Fire Rescue.
The panels were placed in accordance with a new Oregon building code that went into effect last year, requiring installers to leave space on the sides of panels and on the top of the roof to give firefighters room to put their ladders and cut out sections as needed to let heat escape.
Corah said the fire was the first time the new code was tested — and it worked.
If the panels had covered the roof, firefighters would not have been able to break it open: Solar panels cannot be turned off like other electrical sources. The fire would not have been able to vent and that would have made it worse, Corah said. As it was, the fire caused about $70,000 worth of damage.
I am very excited to post about my recent visit to observe a day of test burns that are a part of the Vertical Ventilation study being conducted by UL.
I want to first say a special thanks to Steve Kerber, Christopher Hasbrook,Bob Backstrom and Chief Peter Van Dorpe for allowing me to experience so many wonderful things they do to make the fire service safer.
This post is only to share my experience with you. It is not meant to be a report because it was only one day of many tests that UL are conducting to produce the report on Impact of Vertical Ventilation for the fire service.
United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Assistance to Firefighter Grant Program funded Underwriters Laboratories to conduct these test to examine fire service ventilation practices as well as the impact of changes in modern house geometries.
There has been a steady change in the residential fire environment over the past several decades. These changes include larger homes, more open floor plans and volumes and increased synthetic fuel loads. This series of experiments examine this change in fire behavior and the impact on firefighter ventilation tactics.
Test 1: on 2/7/2012
Was conducted in single story legacy ranch home. The fire was started in a coffee pot and then got into cabinets and was allowed to flashover. The door was then opened and after few minutes water was applied from straight stream at the door for 10 seconds and with fog nozzle. The purpose of water application was to see if a post flashover fire could be pushed out of kitchen down hallway. NO Fire was pushed in this test however there has been 7 test before and still one more to go. All the data will have to be analyzed before this can be confirmed.
Other things tested was 5 different smoke detectors, visibility on exit lights in smoke and they also examined activation time versus time needed to evacuate determined by temperature, gas concentration and smoke obscuration.
Test 2 on 2/7/2012
Two story modern home with open concept design. This fire was started in a trash can in upstairs bedroom and allowed to grow (it did not flashover due to the lack of oxygen) then the bedroom window was taken and it transitioned to flashover and later the front door was opened. The open door allowed for a flow up through the foyer to the bedroom window which intensified the fire and allowed it to burn at the door to the room and the window of the room, resulting in a higher heat release. The vertical ventilation hatch was opened and this seemed to localize the fire but UL will have to examine the data and videos before they can conclude anything. This test was a good example of multiple types of ventilation being coordinated and the hose stream application from the outside quickly knocked the fire.
Note my videos are amateur and shot on just a 35 mm camera so excuse my shaking hand LOL
Once again this post is only about my experience on 2/7/2012 which is only part of the study that is being conducted. So I am looking forward to Steve Kerber and his group to releasing the full report.
Photo from UL study for Firefighter Safety and Photovoltaic Systems
What are the safety hazards with PV?
What tactics should be used at fires with PV present?
How do I secure utilities on a PV system?
These are just a few questions you should pose to every firefighter next shift or training meeting.
Photovoltaic (PV) is a method of generating electrical power by converting solar radiation into direct current electricity using semiconductors that exhibit the photovoltaic effect.
Total global solar energy capacity averaged 40 percent annual growth from 2000 to 2010; grid-connected solar photovoltaic capacity grew 50 percent per year for much of this time. This growth increases the potential of a fire department response to a building with PV, irrespective of the PV being involved with the initiation of the fire event. This growth increases the potential of a fire department response to a building with PV, irrespective of the PV being involved with the initiation of the fire event.
What are the safety hazards with PV?
Under the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Assistance to Firefighter Grant Program – Fire Prevention and Safety Grants, Underwriters Laboratories (UL)this study examines electrical and fire performance experiments were conducted to identify and quantify the electrical shock hazard that may be present to firefighters during the suppression, ventilation, and overhaul activities associated with a building or structure fire involving the presence of PV equipment. The scope of these experiments included:
Water for Fire Suppression During Firefighting Activites with PV
Shock Hazard Due to the Direct Contact with Energized Components
Emergency Disconnect and Disruption Techniques
Severing of Conductors
Shock Hazard from Damaged PV Modules and Systems
PV Power During Low Ambient Light, Artificial Light, and Light from a Fire
Potential Shock Hazard from Fire Damaged PV Components and Systems
What tactics should be used at fires with PV present?
In this study tactical considerations for PV include:
Shock hazard due to the presence of water and PV power during suppression activities
Shock hazard due to the direct contact with energized components during firefighting operations
Emergency disconnect and disruption techniques
Severing of conductors
Assessment of PV power during low ambient light, artificial light and light from a fire
Assessment of potential shock hazard from damaged PV modules and systems.
For more information about this project please see:
Every Incident Commander,Company Officer and firefighter will greatly enhance there safety by taking this online class. UL has developed an online interactive training module. The program includes a professionally narrated description of all of the experiments, their results and the tactical considerations. Experimental video is used and graphical data is explained in a way that brings science to the street level firefighter.
This post is dedicated to my brother and sister firefighters from Colorado.
Solar shingles are solar panels incognito. Instead of mounting on your roof, they become your roof or integrate seamlessly with the existing roof shingles. In many cases, they can be stapled to the sub-roofing the same as an ordinary shingle. On average, shingles are about 12 inches wide by seven feet long. There are also solar roof tiles that integrate well with mission-style housing common in the sunny Southwest. Solar shingles, like most thin-film BIPV products currently on the market, are less efficient than silicon solar panels. But, again like other Building Integrated Photovoltaic ( BIPV )innovations, are a burgeoning work in progress.
Until now, solar energy’s two challenges have been cost and acceptance. Dow is working to change all that. Dow has been developing BIPV building materials that enable solar energy cells to be incorporated directly into the design of commercial and residential building materials such as roofing systems, exterior sidings, fascias and more.
ARVADA, Colo., Oct 13, 2011 (BUSINESS WIRE) — The roof of a home has always
had the critical job of protecting families from the elements. Today, for the
first time, a new commercially-available solar roofing shingle has entered the
U.S. housing market that not only protects from the elements, but uses one of
those elements — sunlight — to turn the typical American home into a dynamic
At an event today in Arvada attended by Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper
and supporters of solar technology, alternative energy, green manufacturing and
the latest innovations in home building, Dow Solar, a division of The Dow
Chemical Company announced that the DOW POWERHOUSE(TM) Solar Shingle will now be available to homeowners in Colorado. On October 4, Dow announced that the product would be available in targeted U.S. markets and now Colorado becomes the first state to offer Dow’s revolutionary Solar Shingle.
Co-hosted by D.R. Horton, one of the leading homebuilders in the nation and the first residential production builder to participate with Dow Solar, the event showcased D.R. Horton’s commitment to offer the POWERHOUSE(TM) Solar Shingle as a standard feature on 50 new homes in the developer’s Spring Mesa community in Colorado. Each of the remaining homes in Spring Mesa will receive a 3 kilowatt POWERHOUSE(TM) Solar
“We are excited that Dow has chosen D.R. Horton’s Spring Mesa community to launch its POWERHOUSE(TM) Solar Shingle technology,” said Scott Davis, Division President, D.R. Horton – Colorado. “We believe the addition of solar technology will attract new homebuyers to Spring Mesa who will now have Dow’s innovative Solar Shingles available on one of the most scenic and beautiful communities in the Denver area.”
Why Launch in Colorado?
Dow chose Colorado as the first launch market for the POWERHOUSE(TM) Solar Shingle because the state provides the right combination of financial returns and market receptivity to solar.
According to Neal Lurie, Executive Director of the Colorado Solar Energy Industries Association (COSEIA), a number of factors combine to make Colorado the right market for the introduction of an important new solar technology.
“Colorado is a national leader in solar energy innovation and job creation. We have the right combination of public sector support, private sector
commitment, homeowner interest and an enthusiastic community of builders and installers,” Lurie said. “The launch of POWERHOUSE(TM) in Colorado is a significant accomplishment for the state as clean energy once again serves as a catalyst for economic development.”
Working with Homebuilders, Roofing Contractors and Installers in Colorado.
Dow Solar will bring the POWERHOUSE(TM) Solar Shingle to Colorado by working with leading homebuilders such as D.R. Horton to create more solar communities, and with POWERHOUSE(TM) Authorized Dealers to grow the solar market in Colorado one rooftop at a time. Expansion throughout Colorado is continuing and other U.S. market will be announced in the coming months.
The DOW POWERHOUSE(TM) Solar Shingle
The POWERHOUSE(TM) Solar Shingle roofing system protects the home like a standard roofing shingle while providing energy that powers the home and saves the homeowner money.
The three-part solar roofing system package includes an array of shingles, an inverter and an energy monitoring system. The shingles, custom designed to fit the individual homeowners’ budget and energy goals, are arranged to complement the style and form of the home and roofline. The inverter then converts Direct Current (DC) produced from the shingles into Alternating Current (AC), which is then fed to the home’s appliances, or back to the power grid. Finally, a real-time monitoring system provides readouts to homeowners to assess energy usage, production and the amount of excess power flowing back to the grid.
The great look of the integrated POWERHOUSE(TM) Solar Shingle solution now serves the needs of homeowners who want to go solar, but dislike the aesthetic of bulky, rack-mounted systems.
To learn more about these solar shingles and many other hazards on modern roofs be sure and attend Green Maltese class at FDIC 2012
Hazards Of Modern Roofs:
The presentation will include an intense and concentrated examination of trends and methods in modern building construction with an emphasis on roofs, their direct relationship on vertical ventilation, structural firefighting operations, and firefighter survivability.
Inherent roof construction features and hazards that directly influence truck company work will be the main focus of this program.
Program Overview and Pedagogical Approach
The program will address timely issues related to modern roofs and upcoming push to make sustainable buildings.
This presentation will examine various green roofs, methods and exotic materials that are used to achieve green standards, and the potential hazards that they present to fire service personnel. Many of these materials such as recycled rubber shingles, solar panels and green (garden) roofs are not common knowledge to most fire service personnel due to past and current teaching practices that only address traditional building construction for the fire service.
Fire- Rescue International 2011 is just around the corner.
Even through it looks like I will not be able to attend this year. I wanted to give a shout out to some friends of mine that will be there.
The following are classes that I would recommend you to try and check out. These are people I know or have associations with and I believe that these will be some very worth while presentations.
Safety and Survival: The Officers Role on the Fireground
Wednesday, 08/24/2011 1:00PM – 2:30PM , Room B314
Description: The lecture and throughout the program we will identify ways that firefighters get “jammed” up and offer ways for the fire officer to identify these hazards prior to and during an incident and taking actions to eliminate or reduce the chance of injury or death. It is of utmost importance to keep the firefighter from getting in a bad spot to start with. Our lecture will identify ways to maintain good situational awareness and indicators that raise red flags for you on the fire ground.
UL Research with the Fire Service: Collapse, Ventilation, Solar Panels
Thursday, 08/25/2011 10:30AM -12:00PM , Room B408
Description: Over the past several years Underwriters Laboratories has been conducting research to improve firefighter safety. With support from DHS’s Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program, UL has conducted 3 significant studies, Structural stability of engineered lumber, The Modern Fire Environment and Ventilation, and Firefighter Safety and Photovoltaic Systems.
This presentation will go into detail on the results of each of these studies and how they have added to the knowledge of firefighters.
Speaker: Steve Kerber P.E
Going Green to Save Some Green
Thursday, 08/25/2011 10:30AM -12:00PM , Room B409
Description: Environmental sustainability is a growing issue in the fire service with positive impacts on both the communities we serve and the departmental budgets we manage. The IAFC Environmental Sustainability Committee will host a panel discussion with chiefs from across the country who will highlight departmental best practices, lessons learned, and take your
Speaker: Mike Duyck
Note: I am hoping to write about IAFC Environmental Sustainabilty Commitee as soon as Chief Duyck is able to get me the info so please check out this group.
Strategic and Tactical Options for Firefighting with Limited Staffing
Thursday, 08/25/2011 3:00PM – 4:30PM , Room B312
Description: This seminar will discuss the options available to the Incident Commander in making strategic decisions for offensive/defensive operations with limited staffing.
Speaker: John Buckman III
Although I recommend these classes, this is by no means the only people and topics you should go see. I am just asking that you take the time to come see these great instructors while they are available.
The majority of firefighters today associate used shipping containers with Live Fire training.
1403 Live Fire class @ Greencastle FD
However many designers, builders and eco organizations have another idea for the use of these used containers.
Why not turn one of the world strongest mobile structures into your next home or office?
After all these container were built to withstand built to withstand typhoons, tornados,hurricanes and even earthquakes. One or more of these incredible steel modules are the safest superstructure for a home, school, office, apartment, dormitory, storage unit, emergency shelter. …where would you rather be in a storm, hurricane or earthquake? I think in a room made of strong Corten steel
Shipping Containers that survived the recent earthquake in Japan. Shows the strength of Corten steel.
ISBU Construction Modules
Now we have a perfect box that is strong and virtually won’t rust – what else can we do with it? For many years the shipping container has been used for storage units beginning with the military and also construction companies.
But when the Shipping Container is no longer used for shipping, the name changes. When it used for any other purpose, other than transportation, the name for the ISO Shipping Container becomes ISBU. When you build with a shipping container it is an ISBU; short for Intermodal Steel Building Unit. …yes, in fact they are so popular now, they are often purchased directly from the factory simply for the purpose of construction, not shipping. The construction module is known as an ISBU to most people in the building construction trade.
Availability of shipping containers:
It is well known that the rapid growth of manufacturing in China and the global thrist by virtually every country for lower priced, high technology products from China has given to happier consumers and lower prices globally, but the side effect has been the one-way shipping of all the containers bringing the products from China.
So What Can We Do With Theses Containers?
The ISBU shipping container has been popular in Europe, UK, Australia, China, and the US since 2005 or even before.
In Amsterdam and the UK, the ISBU shipping container units have been popular for Student Housing and apartments since 2005. At about the same time in the US, people like Adam Kalkin, Peter De Maria, and the Lo-tek company in New York began using the shipping container in contemporary art type homes. The homes looked like shipping containers, but were designed in a very trendy way that was appealing to many.
ISBU’s are now be more easily adapted to conventional housing and office structures, both onsite and with the growth of new ISBU shipping container Prefab and Modular companies in the US and even more so globally.
Modern green home built with used shipping container:
Other uses of shipping containers:
Containers are in many ways an ideal building material because they are strong, durable, stackable, cuttable, movable, modular, plentiful and relatively cheap. Architects as well as laypeople have used them to build many types of buildings.
The common ISO Shipping container is 20′ or 40′ long; 8′ wide; and 8’6″ tall. So with the walls only being 8′ wide and ceiling 8’6 tall that will make the thermal radiation feedback happen much faster creating Flashover much sooner than the average 12′ ceiling. Most firefighters have fought many fires in these types of containers in training, however keep in mind the fuel load used in training is OSB and straw,paper and pallets. These homes have all the modern fuel loading (plastics) but in a very close space.
Since the containers are built of steel they are strong enough to support the added weight of a green roofs, also because they are flat they are well suited for solar panels installation. These two options add challenging obstacles to open the roof, not to mention the steel roof.
Many of these containers are being used in green construction and are trying to achieve The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) ratings. Heat island mitigation is a big issue in achieving LEED points. LEED requires at least 50% of the hardscape of a development be either shaded or permeable materials.
Shading is usually accomplished by planting many trees and in some instances they are placed close to the structure which could hamper ladder placement.
Permeable materials are used to achieve LEED points these materials such as permeable pavers.Some of these permeable surfaces are made out of new exotic materials other than the common asphalt and concrete most fire departments are used to staging there apparatus on. The weight of your apparatus may be a concern?
Many LEED communities are becoming walkable communites with limited amount of open parking spaces. these spaces are often away from the homes this could cause fire department access issues with staging and aerial ladder placement.
These are just a few that came to mind please reply in the comment section of your thoughts concerns.