NIST Reports on Residential and High-Rise Fireground Field Experiments

Report Date: April 2013

Firefighting crew staffing size, alarm response size, and alarm response time are affected by many factors including funding and resource availability, and in turn effect the tactics and outcome at a fire. These companion projects from NIST used field experiments in cooperation with fire departments and lab experiments to generate scientific data that quantifies the effects of fire service deployment on the effectiveness and safety of fire operations.

The first report, Report on Residential Fireground Field Experiments, investigates the effect of varying crew size, arrival time, and response time on task completion, and firefighter and occupant safety. The data was gathered through more than 60 laboratory and fireground experiments representing a residential structure fire. Firefighting crews were dispatched to live fires in a two-story structure. Crew sizes varied from two to five and tasks included fire suppression, ventilation, search, and rescue.

The second study, Report on High-Rise Fireground Field Experiments, continued the work from the residential fireground in the high-rise fireground. Nearly 100 combined field experiments and fire modeling simulations were performed to gather data. The 48 field experiments took place in a 13-story commercial building. In this case, crew sizes were varied from three to six and, in addition to the above tasks, different vertical responses were investigated.

Together, these projects provide a technical basis for defining the effects of changes in crew staffing size, alarm response size, and alarm response time to overall firefighting operation effectiveness and safety.

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  • National Institute of Standards and Technology

    The NIST Fire Research Division develops, verifies, and utilizes measurements and predictive methods to quantify the behavior of fire and means to reduce the impact of fire on people, property, and the environment. This work involves integration of laboratory measurements, verified methods of prediction, and large-scale fire experiments to demonstrate the use and value of the research products.

    Through its programs in measurement, prediction, systems integration, and the dynamics of fire and its interactions with the built and natural environment, the division provides leadership for advancing the theory and practice of fire safety engineering, fire fighting, fire investigation, fire testing, fire data management, and intentional burning.

Averill, Jason D., Lori Moore-Merrell, Adam Barowy, Robert Santos, Richard Peacock, Kathy A. Notarianni, and Doug Wissoker. Report on Residential Fireground Field Experiments. Gaithersburg, MD: National Institute for Standards and Technology, Technical Note 1661, 2010. Print.

Available at: http://www.nist.gov/customcf/get_pdf.cfm?pub_id=904607 

Averill, Jason D., Lori Moore-Merrell, Raymond T. Ranellone Jr., Craig Weinschenk, Nicole Taylor, Randy Goldstein, Robert Santos, Doug Wissoker, and Kathy A. Notarianni. Report on High­-Rise Fireground Field Experiments. Gaithersburg, MD: National Institute for Standards and Technology, Technical Note 1797, 2013. Print.

Available at: http://nvlpubs.nist.gov/nistpubs/TechnicalNotes/NIST.TN.1797.pdf

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