Quantification of Green Building Features on Firefighter Safety

New DHS Award, $998,446, August 2013 – July 2016

This research effort will address needs identified by the National Association of State Fire Marshals, the Fire Protection Research Foundation and the National Fire Service Research Agenda to understand, quantify and address fire performance challenges of green or sustainable buildings as they impact firefighter safety.

The objectives are to begin quantifying fire significant green building features and appropriate mitigation options, and to better prepare the fire service for fighting fires in green buildings. In achieving these objectives we aim to:

(a) Develop and test means by which to collect fire incident data specific to domestic fires involving green building features, particularly those resulting in firefighter injury or fatality,

(b) Quantify increased fire hazards or risks, or decreased fire performance, associated with green building features in residential and commercial buildings by reviewing existing fire experiment and test data on green building elements and by conducting fire performance experiments on selected green building elements, including building envelop and structural systems, and evaluation of natural versus mechanical ventilation in atria and large spaces,

(c) Develop a screening tool to aid fire risk and hazard assessment of green buildings and features for new and existing construction,

(d) Investigate modifications to firefighting tactics as appropriate to green building technologies, and

(e) Develop fire service education and training materials on safety hazards and tactics for green buildings.

Outcomes from this effort will contribute directly to reducing the potential for fire ground injuries and deaths by facilitating recognition of green building related hazards and adopting tactical responses appropriate to expected fire environments and structural performance given contemporary construction and fire loads. 

Project partners include the University of Maryland (UMD), the Massachusetts Department of Fire Services (MA DFS), the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), and the Fire Protection Research Foundation (FPRF). The Principal Investigator is Brian Meacham (WPI) and co-investigators are Nicholas Dembsey (WPI), Michael Gollner (UMD) and Andre Marshall (UMD).