The Threats of Lightweight Construction and Modern Furnishings to Firefighters

27,422 views

Published on

NFPA has created a Powerpoint presentation that you can use to help educate your community's decision-makers and the public about the dangers of lightweight construction materials under fire conditions. It features the stories of two incidents in which firefighters were killed or seriously injured in homes built according to the lightweight construction model. The presentation also includes data that shows that home fire sprinklers lessen the dangers posed by lightweight construction.

1 Comment
2 Likes
Statistics
Notes
  • theres something up with this slide show. no presentation present / visible...only a video interview by a FF who survived a house fire...
       Reply 
    Are you sure you want to  Yes  No
    Your message goes here
No Downloads
Views
Total views
27,422
On SlideShare
0
From Embeds
0
Number of Embeds
20,902
Actions
Shares
0
Downloads
150
Comments
1
Likes
2
Embeds 0
No embeds

No notes for slide
  • As you saw from the video, Firefighter Jo Brinkley-Chaudoir and Chief W. Keith Brower Jr. experienced first-hand threats that lightweight construction poses in a fire situation – and its ability to intensify a fire’s path more quickly than legacy construction.
    Jo Brinkley-Chaudoir lost her fire department partner, Arnie, while responding to a home fire. The home (constructed in 1999), was built according to the lightweight construction model. When Jo and Arnie entered the home, the floor quickly collapsed into a basement engulfed in flames. Arnie was trapped under the debris for 14 hours, and his life was lost.
    In Jo’s words: “… buildings are going to come down on us quicker, with the modern construction techniques.”
    When Chief Brower’s firefighter crew entered a burning house built according to the lightweight construction model, a fireball erupted on the first floor, and trapped them upstairs. The flashover was so intense, their hose line burned in two. Luckily, the firefighters escaped the burning home; but as he mentioned, one sustained serious burns and was forced to retire.
    In Chief Brower’s words: “Newer homes…in a fire situation are less safe than an older home built with dimension construction. And that’s why we believe residential sprinklers have a value.”
  • Lightweight construction is a popular modern construction method that uses wooden truss roofing systems and wood I-joists. It is widely used by residential builders to cut costs.
    Often includes larger volumes/open floor plans, more voids (vaulted ceilings, trusses) and less mass in structural components.
    Lightweight residential structures began to appear widely about 25 years ago and have become increasingly popular since.
    This engineered wood construction burns quicker and fails faster than dimensional construction.
    Lightweight construction components burn and fail faster than traditional wood lumber because of the increased heat release rates.
    SOURCES for data:
    Bullet #1: Wood Truss Council of America/Fire Engineering Magazine: http://www.fireengineering.com/articles/print/volume-161/issue-5/departments/training-notebook/structural-collapse-under-fire-conditions.html
    Bullet #2: Underwriters Laboratories - http://content.learnshare.com/courses/73/187716/player.html
    Bullet #3 & 4: Underwriters Laboratories - http://content.learnshare.com/courses/73/187716/player.html
  • The use of these lightweight systems and products can lead to extremely hazardous situations for firefighters.
    Wooden I-beams are notorious for rapid fire spread and early catastrophic failure in as little as four minutes of fire involvement.
    Experts estimate that there is a smaller window of time to save a house built after the mid-1990s than an older home due to the materials used to build modern homes.
    According to an NFPA study, 22 out of 61 total firefighter deaths occurred at structure fires in 2011. 3 firefighters were killed by structural collapses in 2011.
  • This video demonstrates a fire test on a lightweight construction assembly. The lower left view is the furnace (notice the ignition of the furnace burner). The top left and bottom right views show the structure from overhead. The same test was also performed on a legacy construction assembly.
    While I play this video of the lightweight construction assembly, I will describe the differences between key moments in this lightweight construction test vs. the legacy construction test, as well as the vast difference between the collapse time of the two structures.
    In the lightweight construction assembly, the subfloor reaches 200 degrees at the 5:30 mark, while it takes 12 minutes for the subfloor of the legacy assembly to reach the same temperature.
    After 5 minutes, the surface temperature of the floor also greatly differs between the two tests. At this point, the surface temperature of the lightweight construction assembly is 85 degrees, and 73 degrees in the legacy construction assembly.
    Smoke is visible from the surface at the 2:30 mark of the lightweight construction example; flames are visible starting at the 5:50 mark, and the structure collapses at the 6 minute mark. For the legacy construction assembly, smoke is visible at the 13 minute mark, flames are visible at the 17:50 mark, and the structure collapses at the 18:30 mark – more than 12 minutes later than the lightweight construction assembly.
  • NIOSH has published numerous firefighter fatality case studies from across the U.S.
    Each of these case studies describes a structural collapse of a lightweight construction residence – and depicts the danger that lightweight construction poses to firefighters.
    This slide represents a brief headline of each fatality case. We strongly encourage you to read the full case studies, which are available at www.firesprinklerinitiative.org/firefightersafety
  • Similar to lightweight construction, modern furnishings have the capabilities to increase the damage of a home fire because of its ability to burn more quickly than legacy furnishings.
    Due to the added risk caused by modern furnishings, non-survivable conditions occur sooner, including accelerated flashover and severely reduced escape time.
    This video depicts a side by side comparison of two simulated living room fires – one room with legacy furnishings and the other with modern furnishings.
  • Modern furnishings have changed from predominately natural materials such as leather, wood, cotton and wool to synthetic materials, such as polyurethane.
    The polyurethane used in furniture has drastically reduced the time it takes for a fire to heat a room above 1,100 degrees, the point at which it is likely to burst into flames, firefighters and scientists say.  
    These photos depict two similar rooms, one with natural, legacy furnishings, and one with modern, synthetic furnishings. The fires in both rooms were started with the same source: a common birthday candle. These photos indicate the fire growth at 1 minute and 50 seconds; and approximately 4 minutes.
  • First quote from July/August 2009 Journal feature: http://www.nfpa.org/newsandpublications/nfpa-journal/2009/july-august-2009/features/lightweight-construction
    Second quote from September/October 2013 Journal feature: http://www.nfpa.org/newsandpublications/nfpa-journal/2013/september-october-2013/features/old-problem-fresh-look
    Third quote from November/December 2012 Journal feature: http://www.nfpa.org/newsandpublications/nfpa-journal/2012/november-december-2012/features/easy-being-green
  • Source: NFPA’s “Upholstered Furniture Flammability” report. For excerpts of the report visit nfpa.org/furniture_analysis.
  • Source: http://www.firesprinklerinitiative.org/resources/fact-sheets/about-home-fire-sprinklers.aspx
    Sprinklers can offset the increased dangers posed by lightweight construction and create a safer fire environment in which firefighters can work.
    Home sprinkler systems respond quickly to reduce the heat, flames, and smoke from a fire.
    If you have a reported fire in your home, the risk of dying decreases by about 80% when sprinklers are present.
    People in homes with sprinklers are protected against significant property loss—sprinklers reduce the average property loss by about 70% per fire.
    Each individual sprinkler is designed and calibrated to go off when it senses a significant heat change.
    Only the sprinkler closest to the fire will activate, spraying water directly on the fire.
    The cost of installing home fire sprinklers averages $1.35 per square foot for new construction.
  • Opposition from homebuilders due to fire sprinkler installation costs.
    Some U.S. states have adopted legislative prohibitions against sprinkler requirements.
    Consumers are often unaware of or do not understand the benefits, efficiency, and effectiveness of home fire sprinklers. Often they don’t know that the technology exists and that sprinklers are included in all model codes as minimum standards of safety.
    Important stakeholders, such as water purveyors, are not knowledgeable about home fire sprinklers and impose requirements that greatly impact the costs of fire sprinklers and mandates concerning sprinklers.
  • Work with local communities/associations to advocate for home fire sprinklers and their impact on firefighter safety.
    Become an advocate for the fire sprinkler initiative. You can find advocacy resources at www.firesprinklerinitiative.org.
    International Code Council vote on IRC.
  • The Threats of Lightweight Construction and Modern Furnishings to Firefighters

    1. 1. The Threats of Lightweight Construction and Modern Furnishings to Firefighters © National Fire Protection Association. All rights reserved.
    2. 2. 2 Lightweight Construction: A Visual Depiction > Mouse over this video and click the play button © National Fire Protection Association. All rights reserved.
    3. 3. 3 Lightweight Construction: A Visual Depiction  Firefighter/Paramedic Jo Brinkley- Chaudoir lost her fire department partner, Arnie Wolff  Home built in 1999 of lightweight construction model  Jo and Arnie entered home, floor quickly collapsed, engulfed in flames  Chief Brower supervised a firefighter crew endangered in a lightweight construction home  Intense flashover; crew was trapped upstairs, hose line was burned in half  Chief Brower’s crew escaped the burning home, but not without severe injuries © National Fire Protection Association. All rights reserved.
    4. 4. 4 LIGHTWEIGHT CONSTRUCTION BY THE NUMBERS  More than 60% of roof structures in the U.S. are constructed with lightweight wood truss construction techniques  Used in approximately ½ - ⅔ of all new (built after the mid-1990’s) 1 and 2 bedroom homes  Average escape time in dimensional construction: 15 minutes  Average escape time in lightweight construction: 2 minutes Source: UL, FireEngineering.com Defining Lightweight Construction  Lightweight construction began to appear 25 years ago  Widely used by residential builders to cut costs  Burns quicker, fails faster, collapses without warning Cost source: Probuilder.com © National Fire Protection Association. All rights reserved.
    5. 5. 5 Threats to the Firefighting Community  Lightweight construction increases hazard to firefighters  Smaller time window to save lightweight construction homes  Out of 61 on-duty firefighter deaths in 2011, 22 firefighters died at structure fires Source: UL, NFPA report “Firefighter Fatalities in the United States, 2011” © National Fire Protection Association. All rights reserved.
    6. 6. 6 Threats to the Firefighting Community  Observations from the Underwriters Laboratories video (Thermal Imaging Camera) of a fire test in a lightweight construction assembly Activity Lightweight Construction Legacy Construction Subfloor Reaches 200° 5 min. 30 sec. 12 min. Surface Temperature: 5 Min. 85° 73° Visible Smoke 2 min. 30 sec. 13 min. Visible Flames 5 min. 50 sec. 17 min. 50 sec. Collapse Time 6 min. 18 min. 30 sec. © National Fire Protection Association. All rights reserved.
    7. 7. 7 Lightweight Construction: Firefighter Fatality Case Studies  February 2011 (California): Career Firefighter/Paramedic Dies From Injuries Following an Unexpected Ceiling Collapse  April 2008 (Ohio): Career Captain and Part-Time Firefighter Die in a Residential Floor Collapse  August 2007 (Texas): Volunteer, Mutual Aid Captain and Firefighter Die in a Remodeled Residential Structure Fire  May 2007 (Georgia): Career Firefighter Dies and Captain is Injured During a Civilian Rescue Attempt at a Residential Structure Fire  April 2007 (Virginia): Career Firefighter Dies in Wind-Driven Residential Structure Fire The full case studies are available at: www.firesprinklerinitiative.org/firefightersafety © National Fire Protection Association. All rights reserved.
    8. 8. 8 Defining Modern Furnishings  Uses synthetic materials, such as polyurethane; increased damage in home fires, burn more quickly than legacy furnishings  Non-survivable conditions occur sooner, causes accelerated flashover and severely reduced escape time  Underwriters Laboratories video: Side-by-side comparison of two living room fires (left side: legacy room; right side: modern room) © National Fire Protection Association. All rights reserved.
    9. 9. 9 Modern Furnishings: A Visual  Polyurethane significantly reduces the time it takes for a room to burst into flames Legacy Furnishing Fire (leather furniture) 4 minutes, 25 seconds 1 minute, 50 seconds Modern Furnishing Fire (synthetic furniture) 4 minutes 1 minute, 50 seconds © National Fire Protection Association. All rights reserved.
    10. 10. 10 Lightweight Construction and Modern Furnishings Underscored in NFPA Journal > “It’s Not Lightweight Construction. It’s what happens when lightweight construction meets fire.” > “Today’s furniture…contributes to fires burning bigger and faster than ever before.” > “‘Green building elements can present fire and life safety challenges.” © National Fire Protection Association. All rights reserved.
    11. 11. 11 Furniture Flammability by the Numbers Fires involving upholstered furniture have annually accounted for…  The largest share of fire deaths of any first item ignited in U.S. homes  8,900 home structure fires  610 deaths (nearly a quarter of all home fire deaths), 1,120 injuries, and $566 million in property damage when upholstered furniture was the principal item contributing to fire spread Source: NFPA’s “Upholstered Furniture Flammability” report © National Fire Protection Association. All rights reserved.
    12. 12. 12 Home Fire Sprinklers: Creating a Safer Environment for Firefighters  Home fire sprinklers lessen the dangers posed by lightweight construction  Increases structural stability/collapse time of lightweight construction homes  Respond quickly to reduce heat, flames, and smoke from a fire  Reduce chance of death by fire by 80%  Reduce property loss by 70% Source: NFPA’s Fire Sprinkler Initiative © National Fire Protection Association. All rights reserved.
    13. 13. 13 Threats to Home Fire Sprinkler Requirements  Opposition from homebuilders  Legislative prohibitions against sprinkler requirements  Lack of consumer awareness  Lack of knowledge by important stakeholders © National Fire Protection Association. All rights reserved.
    14. 14. 14 Action to Advance Home Fire Sprinklers  Become an advocate  Support fire sprinkler requirements in the IRC For more information, please visit: www.firesprinklerinitiative.org www.nfpa.org © National Fire Protection Association. All rights reserved.
    15. 15. 15 Sources  Slide 4: -Bullet #1: Wood Truss Council of America/Fire Engineering Magazine: http://www.fireengineering.com/articles/print/volume-161/issue-5/departments/training-notebook/structural- collapse-under-fire-conditions.html -Bullet #2: Underwriters Laboratories - http://content.learnshare.com/courses/73/187716/player.html -Bullet #3 & 4: Underwriters Laboratories - http://content.learnshare.com/courses/73/187716/player.html -“Widely used by residential builders to cut costs”: http://www.probuilder.com/wood-vs-engineered-lumber  Slide 5: -NFPA report “Firefighter Fatalities in the United States, 2011”: http://www.nfpa.org/newsandpublications/nfpa- journal/2012/july-august-2012/features/2011-firefighter-fatalities-in-the-united-states -”Lightweight construction increases hazard to firefighters:” UL reports referenced in Slide 4  Slide 11: -NFPA’s “Upholstered Furniture Flammability” report. For excerpts of the report visit nfpa.org/furniture_analysis.  Slide 12: -http://www.firesprinklerinitiative.org/resources/fact-sheets/about-home-fire-sprinklers.aspx  OTHER SOURCES:  The Dangers of Lightweight Construction as Related to the Highland Heights Fire Department by Jeremy Smelcer, University of Cincinnati  Firerescue1.com: Dangers of Lightweight Construction  MyFOX9.com: Investigators: Sounding the Alarm  Firesprinklerinitiative.org  NFPA Journal (cover story on lightweight construction) © National Fire Protection Association. All rights reserved.

    ×