Archive for October 18th, 2022

Fire Service news

Excerpts from

A lack of oxygen can reduce even the most furious flame to smoldering ash. But when fresh air rushes in, say after a firefighter opens a window or door to a room, the blaze may be suddenly and violently resurrected. This explosive phenomenon, called backdraft, can be lethal and has been challenging for firefighters to anticipate.

Researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have a plan for informing firefighters of what dangers lie behind closed doors. The team obtained data from hundreds of backdrafts in the lab to use as a basis for a model that can predict them. The results of the study suggest that the model offers a viable solution to make predictions based on particular measurements. 

Currently, firefighters look for visual indicators of a potential backdraft, including soot-stained windows, smoke puffing through small openings and the absence of flames. If the cues are present, they may vent the room by creating holes in its ceiling to reduce their risk. If not, they may charge right in. Ultimately, they must rely on their eyes in a hazy environment to guess the correct action, and guessing wrong could come at a steep cost.

At NIST’s National Fire Research Laboratory, engineers conducted experiments where they lit a stream of gaseous fuel that poured into a small chamber and then sealed its door shut. In each case, the door remained closed for several minutes as they continued to pump gas into the chamber and the fire burnt itself out by depleting its available oxygen. Then, they remotely sprang open the door. Some experiments were rather uneventful, with no hint of reignition. In others, fireballs accompanied by pressure waves erupted in the doorway.

Throughout nearly 500 experiments, in which they altered factors such as the type and amount of gas injected into the chamber, they recorded temperatures, pressures, the dimensions of the fireballs and more. To determine the abundance of the fuel in particular, they improved upon an instrument developed at NIST decades prior called a phi meter.

The meter sampled fuel and air gas mixtures from the chamber, added a known amount of oxygen and then combusted the sample internally, measuring the difference in oxygen before and after. The less oxygen consumed in the reaction, the greater the relative abundance of fuel in the mixture.

They used a machine learning algorithm to establish a predictive backdraft model from their treasure trove of information. As an initial trial for the model, they fed it readings of gas concentrations, fuel richness and temperature taken at a single location in the chamber before the door opened during their experiments. Based on that information alone, the model had to estimate the chance of a backdraft occurring.

Taking an estimate of above 50% as an affirmative prediction and below 50% as a negative, the model was correct in 70.8% of the experiments it was tested on. The accuracy increased to 82.4% with the addition of measurements taken at a second location in the chamber.

The next steps are to develop a portable device that houses the measurement technology they used in the lab as well as their computer model and then battle-test the technology in a more realistic building fire scenario. They envision firefighters using a handheld device would either probe the air of a room through existing openings, such as cracks around a door, or create small openings.

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Of interest … Waterloo, IL house fire 10-16-22

This was captured by Doug Fuller while traveling in southern Illinois recently:

Some photos of a fire 10/16/22 in Waterloo, IL involving a two-story farmhouse with a 1 1/2-story addition. It was an occupied dwelling with everyone safely outside. Mutual aid included companies from Columbia and Valmeyer.; #WaterloosFD; #DougFuller; #housefire;

Doug Fuller photo; #WaterloosFD; #DougFuller; #housefire;

Doug Fuller photo

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Working fire in Chicago, 10-2-22

This from Chi-Town Fire Photos:

Here are some shots from a little working fire on October 2nd @ 3717 S Hermitage. Engine 39 had a quick knock on the fire and contained it to the living room. Members also rescued 2 dogs from the fire unit.; #CFD; #Chi-TownFirePhoitos; #firescene;

Chi-Town Fire Photos; #CFD; #Chi-TownFirePhoitos; #firescene;

Chi-Town Fire Photos; #CFD; #Chi-TownFirePhoitos; #firescene; #FireTruck; #EONE; #Cyclone;

Chi-Town Fire Photos

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