AUTHOR: Sreenivasan Ranganathan

Obstructions and Early Suppression Fast Response Sprinklers
Storage facility

FPRF Webinar on “Holistic Protection Method of Top-Loading Automatic Storage and Retrieval Systems”

Top-loading automatic storage and retrieval systems (TL-ASRS) create a difficult challenge for traditional fire protection systems. Multiple robots powered by on-board batteries travel simultaneously along rails above tightly spaced stacks of open-top plastic containers, resulting in extremely dense combustible storage without aisle spaces or other means to access the storage area. While sprinkler protection has been effective at suppression, final extinguishment has been difficult due to deep-seated fires that cannot be reached during manual fire protection efforts. This webinar presentation will review recent large-scale testing that evaluated not only sprinkler effectiveness, but also the use of automatic sprinkler protection coupled with manual firefighting strategies targeting final extinguishment. This holistic protection method demonstrates sufficient effectiveness corresponding to the TL-ASRS fire hazards and is now addressed in FM Global Property Loss Prevention Data Sheet 8-34, Automatic Storage and Retrieval Systems. This research effort was completed by FM Global. The Fire Protection Research Foundation is offering this program as a special webinar topic. Register for this webinar today. Visit for more upcoming NFPA & FPRF webinars and archives. When: Wednesday, January 27, 12:30 p.m. Eastern Time. Presenters: Benjamin Ditch, Sr. Lead Research Engineer, FM Global. Weston C. Baker Jr., Sr. Engineering Technical Specialist, FM Global.

Just Weeks After Fatal Baltimore Explosion, Fire Protection Research Foundation Releases New Research on Combustible Gas Dispersion and Detector Location Analysis

According to research from NFPA, an estimated 4,200 home structure fires and an average of 40 deaths result annually when natural gas is ignited. The devastating outcome of a combustible gas leak within a residence was on full display recently when three rowhouses in Baltimore exploded, killing two and injuring seven. While gas detector placement information is available within manufacturer recommendations, NFPA does not currently have a standard containing more specific prescriptive-based detector placement requirements supported by technical review. NFPA 715, Standard for the Installation of Fuel Gases Detection and Warning Equipment, however, is currently in the early developmental stages prior to beginning full public review. NFPA 715 will help to minimize tragic incidents like we saw in Baltimore on August 10th and in the Merrimack Valley region of Massachusetts last year when a series of more than 80 explosions and fires occurred in approximately 40 homes, killing one and forcing 30,000 to evacuate their residences. NFPA 715 will cover the selection, design, application, installation, location, performance, inspection, testing, and maintenance of fuel gas detection and warning equipment in buildings and structures. The Fire Protection Research Foundation, the research affiliate of NFPA, recently completed a report studying combustible gas leaks and dispersion in residential buildings, as well as an analysis of combustible gas detector placement to provide the necessary technical basis to justify the requirements in NFPA 715. Computer modeling was used to quantitatively evaluate the impact that placement has on gas detector performance in residential occupancies. Natural gas and liquefied petroleum gas releases were simulated in different residential structures, and gas concentrations were tracked at numerous potential detector locations within these buildings to determine which locations are most effective for reliable and early detection. Overall, more than 250 simulations were performed with a wide range of plausible leak types and environments to produce the most robust technical basis upon which gas detector location recommendations can be made. A hazard-based approach was also applied to understand the performance of gas detector installation locations, specifically looking at (1) the role that detector location plays in detecting leaks before certain hazardous conditions arise and (2) the ability for the detector to provide sufficient response time prior to any hazardous conditions arising. The study highlights the importance of requiring a gas detector in the same room as permanently installed fuel-gas appliances. For these detectors, generally better performance was observed when: the detector was placed closer to the leak source, there was an unobstructed path between the detector and the leak source, and when the detector alarm threshold was lower (i.e., 10% Lower Flammability Limit (LFL) compared to 25% LFL). Poorer performance was observed when a detector was located: near HVAC supply registers; near passive openings such as doors and windows; and near openings to adjacent areas (e.g., door openings and stairwells). The final report describing the entire study can be found on the hazardous materials page under gases. To learn more about dozens of Fire Protection Research Foundation projects currently underway, click here.

Request for Proposals are now open for three FPRF research projects

Request for Proposals are now open for three Fire Protection Research Foundation (FPRF) research projects. First Responder Small Unmanned Aerial Systems (sUAS) Operations Training: Baseline Materials & Usage Assessment: The overall goal of this project is to substantially increase the availability of free training and education on the safe implementation and utilization of small unmanned aerial systems (sUAS) used by the Public Safety Departments. This RFP specifically addresses the role and related details of the FPRF contractor for developing baseline content and materials that include assessment of current and trending knowledge, policies, and standards on public safety drone usage and collect relevant public safety drone usage and application information. The deadline for submitting proposal is 5 pm ET on 10 March 2020. Economic and Emotional Impact of an Active Shooter / Hostile Events: The overall project goal is to establish a sustainable quantitative approach to identify and measure the economic and emotional impact of events that are addressed by NFPA 3000, Standard for an Active Shooter / Hostile Event Response (ASHER) Program. The overall objectives are: (1) Establish valid economic measures for emergency responders; (2) Quantify short- and long-term emotional impact on emergency responders; and (3) Justify resources needed for preparedness, training, equipment, & other critical needs. The deadline for submitting proposal is 5 pm ET on 13 March 2020. Occupational Exposure of Firefighters – A Literature Review: The goal of this project is to review existing research into firefighter exposure and identify all the potential contaminants that firefighters can be exposed, depending on the type of fire attended. The deadline for submitting proposal is 5 pm ET on 16 March 2020. You can also find all three RFPs on the Foundation website.

Latest Articles