UL FSRI recently had two peer reviewed journal articles published in Fire Techology, that’s a pretty BIG DEAL! Both articles are related to our research exploring exposure risks and potential control measures during live-fire training. The first article centers on fire dynamics cues and thermal risks generated by different fuel loads, while the second article documents airborne chemical gas exposure risks.
In this research, the team tested the impact of five different types of wood-based fuel packages in a single-compartment fire-training structure (i.e., a Fire Behavior Lab) and quantified a range of thermal measures and airborne chemical concentrations. The main takeaways include:
- Different types of wood-based products produced environments with varying consistency in fire dynamics presentation, as well as differences in thermal risks and airborne gas concentrations. This study did not identify a single fuel package that consistently resulted in the lowest thermal or airborne chemical concentrations at the two instructor locations using the Fire Behavior Lab fuel load mounted on the ceiling (we are working on a paper with some of these same fuels used in a ground-based rack, which will be shared as soon as it is available).
- To promote safety in the immersive training environment, the implementation of administrative control measures that impact the way fire instructors operate in this prop (e.g., students/instructors staying lower in the observation area, remaining farther from the fire, moving rear instructor outside the prop (when feasible) and limiting prolonged exposure) can be effective at reducing risk.
- Characterizing the fire dynamics, thermal conditions, and gas concentrations within the Fire Behavioral Lab allows instructors to gain a better understanding of the health and safety hazards associated with the environment, which is essential to consider when balancing the risks and benefits of live fire training.
This research builds off previous studies from FSRI, including the Study of the Fire Service Training Environment: Safety, Fidelity, and Exposure and the Cardiovascular and Chemical Exposure Risks on Today’s Training Ground. Collaborators for the manuscripts included Kenny Fent from NIOSH and Summer Neumann from UL Solutions, along with technical panel members from 18 fire service and safety organizations around the US.