UL FSRI Releases Research Report on Coordinated Fire Attack in Multi-Family Structures

Expanding on previous research to understand the impact of the coordination of ventilation and suppression tactics on firefighter safety through scenarios in multi-family dwellings

The UL Firefighter Safety Research Institute (FSRI) has released a new research report, “Analysis of the Coordination of Suppression and Ventilation in Multi-Family Dwellings” based on a series of experiments conducted as part of the “Study of Coordinated Fire Attack Utilizing Acquired Structures.” This project was funded by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program.

The purpose of this study is to increase fire service knowledge of fire dynamics and the impact of their tactics through a better understanding of how suppression and ventilation are coordinated on the fireground in multi-family residential structures. This project expanded upon previous UL FSRI led research which examined the impact of fire service tactics on fire behavior in single-family residential structures by examining multi-family dwellings, specifically garden-style apartments.

In conjunction with the fire service project technical panel, UL FSRI engineers designed and conducted a series of 13 experiments to evaluate the coordination of fire suppression and ventilation tactics for fires in multi-family residential structures which were slated for demolition. Experiments occurred in four three-story garden-style apartment buildings; each building had 10 apartments where the main entry/egress path was a common enclosed stairwell. Conducted in collaboration with Cobb County Fire and Emergency Services (GA), the experiments included bedroom, kitchen, and living room fires in one-bedroom apartment units on different levels within the buildings. This report provides fire dynamics analysis of each experiment, a discussion of the different control strategies examined, and tactical considerations developed with the project technical panel.

“Expanding our research with the fire service to multi-family structures provides important insight into coordinating tactics when a fire can impact many potential occupants in apartments on several levels connected by a common stairwell. This research would not have been possible without the amazing partnership with Cobb County Fire and Emergency Services and our fire service technical panel of 24 representatives from across the country,” said Steve Kerber, Vice President, Research, UL FSRI.

An online course detailing these results and applications to the fireground is in development and will soon be available through the UL FSRI Fire Safety Academy.