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What Firefighters Face

Service expectations placed on the fire service, including Emergency Medical Services (EMS), response to natural disasters, hazardous materials incidents, and acts of terrorism, have steadily increased. However, local decision-makers are challenged to balance these community service expectations with finite resources without a solid technical foundation for evaluating the impact of staffing and deployment decisions on the safety of the public and firefighters. For the first time, this study investigates the effect of varying crew size, first apparatus arrival time, and response time on firefighter safety, overall task completion, and interior residential tenability using realistic residential fires.

Over the past three decades, fire department response has expanded from fire prevention and fire suppression to include multiple other community services such as emergency medical services, hazardous materials response, and special rescue. Today, service demands and public expectations placed upon local fire departments continue to rise as threats to communities from both natural and man-made disasters including terrorism reach new highs. A Multi-Phase Study on firefighter safety and the deployment of resources is being conducted with funding provided through DHS/FEMA s Grant Program Directorate for FY 2006 Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program - Fire Prevention and Safety Grants. The multiple stages of the larger study include development of a conceptual model for community risk assessment and deployment of resources, implementation of a generalizable department incident survey, and delivery of a software tool to quantify the effects of deployment decisions on resultant firefighter and civilian injuries and property losses. This report focuses on the residential fire ground experiments. For these experiments, a 2,000 sf , two-story residential structure was designed and built at Montgomery County Public Safety Training Academy in Rockville MD. Fire crews from Montgomery County, MD and Fairfax Co. VA were deployed in response to live burns within this facility. In addition to varying the arrival times of the first and subsequent fire apparatus, crew size was varied from two to fiveperson staffing. Each deployment performed a series of twenty-two timed tasks, while the thermal and toxic environment inside the structure was measured. Results presented in this report quantify the effectiveness of crew size, first-due engine arrival time, and apparatus arrival stagger on the duration and time to completion of key fire ground tasks.

Read the entire 104 page NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology) Study HERE