Quantification of Green Building Features on Firefighter Safety

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In 2010, the National Association of State Fire Marshals (NASFM) published a report on issues associated with sustainable building and development which are of concern to fire fighters. While this effort identified a number of community planning and building features of concern, data on the actual extent of the problem and specific means to resolve the issues at the various stages of building planning, design, construction and operation were not detailed.   

In the two years since that seminal NASFM report, other research efforts have been undertaken to explore these and related issues in more detail, including by the Building Research Establishment in the UK, BRANZ in New Zealand and the Fire Protection Research Foundation (FPRF) in the USA. In addition, fire challenges of green buildings are identified as a critical research area for firefighter safety in the Technology and Fire Service Science area in the Report of the 2nd National Fire Service Research Agenda Symposium.  

Based on the analysis that was conducted as part of the FPRF project, as well as data and information provided in research by NASFM, NIST, UL and others, there are clear indications of increased fire hazards and risks for firefighters associated with green buildings and green building elements, which if not understood, quantified and mitigated, will continue to lead to firefighter injuries and deaths.  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.

Research goals and objectives: The goal of this project is to reduce firefighter injuries and deaths associated with unknown or unanticipated fire environments and structural responses associated with green buildings and green building elements. Objectives to meet this goal include:

  • quantifying fire impacts of green building features on firefighter safety
  • developing a screening tool to aid in identifying risk-significant green building features and mitigation options; and
  • better preparing the fire service for fires in green buildings.

Download the project summary. (PDF)