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Research Roadmap: Environmental Impact of Fires in the Built Environment

Fire Protection Research Foundation report: "Research Roadmap: Environmental Impact of Fires in the Built Environment"
Author: Margaret McNamee, Division of Fire Safety Engineering, Lund University; Guy Marlair and Benjamin Truchot, INERIS, Verneuil-en-Halatte, France; and Brian Meacham, Meacham Associates
Date of issue: February 2020

 

To calculate the true cost of fire to society we need to be able to quantify the impact fire has not only on the people or structures involved but also to the environment. Studies have been done to examine the environmental impact of fire but we cannot yet fully quantify this impact and its consequences to the local economy. Therefore, the Foundation initiated this research project to develop a research road map identifying needed research to be able to quantify the environmental impact of fire from the built environment and its economic consequences. This project focused on structure fires and excluded wildland and wildland urban interface (WUI) fires.

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Previous report

The Environmental Impact of Fire (PDF)
Drew Martin, Mai Tomida, Brian Meacham, Ph.D., Worcester Polytechnic Institute, May 2015

Fires are adverse events with tangible costs for property and human life. Quantification of the immediate and direct costs of fire provide a metric for understanding the social and economic impact of fire and for assessing progress in fire prevention and protection. In addition to their most manifest physical costs, however, fires have a range of less immediate and obvious adverse consequences on the natural environment. These include air contamination from the fire plume (whose deposition is likely to subsequently include land and water contamination), contamination from water runoff containing toxic products, and other environmental discharges or releases from burned materials. The Fire Protection Research Foundation initiated this project to compile and review the existing literature on the environmental impact of fire and document the knowledge gaps for future work.