Effectiveness of Fire Service Vertical Ventilation and Suppression Tactics

Report Date: June 2013

An increase in firefighter injuries and deaths in residential structure fires is partly attributed to improper ventilation tactics due to a lack of understanding of fire behavior. These ventilation and suppression tactics have remained substantially unchanged in the United States for decades. In order to improve firefighter knowledge of fire behavior, the UL Firefighter Safety Research Institute gathered data from full-scale residential structure fire experiments to examine fire dynamics and the impact of vertical ventilation and suppression techniques. Based on the research, tactical fire ground considerations for vertical ventilation and suppression were developed. The research has been used to modify tactics for departments including the Fire Department of New York, the Chicago Fire Department, the Los Angeles Fire Department, and the Central Whidbey Island Fire and Rescue Department.

In addition to the report below, the UL Firefighter Safety Research Institute produced an interactive course that can be accessed here.


The International Society of Fire Service Instructors (ISFSI) has published a sample standard operating guideline for structural fires based on this research. It suggests a different order of operations than what has traditionally been used in the United States' fire service. Parts or all of this guideline can be used to provide for more effective and safer fire operations. The sample guideline can be accessed on the ISFSI website here.

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  • UL Firefighter Safety Research Institute

    UL’s Firefighter Safety Research Institute is dedicated to increasing firefighter knowledge to reduce injuries and deaths in the fire service and in the communities they serve. With a team of experts and access to UL’s leading infrastructure, equipment and vast knowledge and insights, FSRI conducts and disseminates cutting-edge research and training programs that focus on the changing dynamics of residential, commercial and industrial fires, and the impact they have on fire service tactics and strategies.

Kerber, Steve. Effectiveness of Fire Service Vertical Ventilation and Suppression Tactics. Northbrook, IL: Underwriters Laboratories, Inc, 2013. Print.

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