Excerpts from an article at ABC7Chicago.com about testing at Underwriters Laboratories:

“A lot of tactics are coming in question because while the number of fires are going down the number of deaths are remaining the same we are hurting ourselves,” said Mike Halterman, a firefighter and paramedic in Wilmette.

Not only are those firefighter deaths concerning, but so is the new speed of fires  – because of newer construction, open floor plans and newer furnishings. In just a 90 seconds, the open box with synthetic furniture made of chemicals was swallowed by flames, while the open box with vintage furniture took more than 13 minutes.

Now, UL Consumer Safety Director John Drengenberg and his team are testing positive pressure ventilation. They’ll still need to perform several more tests and get more data but, they’re trying to figure out if opening certain windows and increasing airflow to the fire with fans, can manipulate the flames.

“In this case it looks like if the house was vacant and nobody was in the house, the fan would have done a good job of helping to get the smoke out and letting the firefighters come in and attack the fire which was in the living room. However if there was someone in the house, especially in the bedroom, with the window open it could have been disastrous,” Dregenberg said.

“This is data that is ground breaking. Nobody has ever done this … firefighters on scene know how to fight a fire but nobody knows how the fire progresses and they might want to change their tactics if some of these data points show maybe breaking the window to get at the fire may not be the best thing,” Dregenberg said.

UL’s research will be complete in a few months. They are doing about 20 more test burns.

thanks Dan

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