Impact of Ventilation on Fire Behavior in Legacy and Contemporary Residential Construction

Report Date: December 2010

For many decades, firefighters in the United States have been fighting fires without any major changes to tactics. The UL Firefighter Safety Research Institute gathered data from full-scale residential structure fire experiments to examine horizontal ventilation practices and the impact that modern home geometries have on fire behavior. The goal of the research was to provide knowledge for the fire service to examine their tactics in order to reduce firefighter injury and death. Based on the research, tactical fire ground considerations for horizontal ventilation and suppression were developed. This results of this research have been the basis for significant tactical changes for several 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 has created an interactive eLearning module 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.

Do you know of an instance that this report was applied to?

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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. Impact of Ventilation on Fire Behavior in Legacy and Contemporary Residential Construction. Northbrook, IL: Underwriters Laboratories, Inc, 2010. Print.

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