Fire Protection Research Foundation receives grants to help improve firefighter safety, WUI evacuation modeling, smoke alarm/carbon monoxide data, and more

November 15, 2021The Fire Protection Research Foundation (FPRF), the research affiliate of NFPA, has received four direct grants that will advance safety in a variety of areas. The FPRF will also serve in an advisory service capacity for several other grants from the Federal Emergency Management Agency Assistance to Firefighters Grants (FEMA AFG), National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and National Science Foundation (NSF). This support for FPRF projects in 2022 coordinates with the Foundation’s 40th anniversary and its ongoing commitment to planning, managing, and communicating major research programs domestically and abroad.

Since 1982, the FPRF has facilitated projects that address industry challenges related to detection and signaling, hazardous materials, electrical safety, fire suppression, storage of commodities, firefighter health and safety, public education, emerging technologies, and other safety considerations. Thanks to generous grant funding, the following FPRF researchprojects are planned for the immediate future:

  1. FEMA AFG – This three-year research and development (R&D) grant for Improved PPE Cleaning Best Practices/Exposure Assessment will allow the FPRF to build on two prior Department of Homeland Security (DHS projects AFG FOA FY14: “How Clean is Clean” and AFG FOA FY17: “Broadening PPE Cleaning Validation Applications”) so that best practices for personal protective equipment (PPE) cleaning and exposure assessment methods can be established and communicated. The aim is to get cleaning validation tools and effective cleaning methodologies into more fire departments so that chronic exposures are minimized. The research will be conducted by NIOSH Personal Protective Technology Laboratory (NPPTL) and International Personnel Protection, Inc. and will ultimately inform standards requirements, increase data, and lead to better product design and development.
  2. FEMA AFG – This two-year Fire Prevention & Safety (FP&S) grant for Application of Immersive Learning on Firefighter Skills, Health, and Safety will strive to identify, assess, and summarize the available and emerging technological tools, techniques, and innovations that support the application of immersive learning for the fire service. The FPRF is working with the North American Fire Training Directors (NAFTD) to minimize firefighter fatalities and injuries during training; determine and describe the value of immersive learning on firefighter skills and competency-based testing/evaluation; identify future needs and barriers; communicate the needs of fire academies; and create a firefighter immersive learning environment roadmap to provide guidance to those charged with training members of the fire service.
  3. NIST Fire Grant – This one-year grant for WUI-NITY 3: Multi-Method Traffic Movement Data Collection for WUI Fire Evacuation Modeling aims to enhance life safety in case of wildland-urban interface fires. The study will allow for enhanced evacuation planning by providing data for a comprehensive evacuation platform that addresses the safety needs of residents. WUI fire evacuation models have started to be developed, but they are primarily research tools unable to be applied in practice. This research will serve as a bridge for practice – building credibility through testing and application. The WUI-NITY tool has been developed over several previously NIST-funded projects with a research team from Lund University, Imperial College London, NRC Canada, Movement Strategies/GHD, and RMIT. Once this model is suitably tested and deemed usable, it can be adopted to test different application scenarios as part of engineering practice. Currently, the testing process is constrained by a lack of suitable, available data.
  4. NIST Fire Grant – This one-year effort entails a Survey on Usage and Functionality of Smoke Alarms and CO Alarms in Households – Phase 2 (Note: This project is being led by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and the FPRF is providing additional funding to conduct more surveys so that a statistically relevant sample can be achieved). The lack of current data on smoke alarm and carbon monoxide (CO) alarm installation and operability in US homes makes the path for improving the performance and installation of smoke and CO alarms difficult. To fill this gap, this survey will collect valuable data to inform educational activities, codes and standards development, and to improve the performance of alarms in households.

The FPRF will also serve in an advisory service capacity with principal investigators for several other confirmed grants:

  • A three-year FEMA AFG R&D grant led by University of Massachusetts Lowell on Assessing Firefighters’ Exposures to Thermal Decomposition Products of AFFF Replacement Alternatives
  • A three-year FEMA AFG R&D grant led by North Carolina State University on Development of Contamination Resistance as a Measure for Firefighter Protective Clothing and Its Impact on Other Performance Properties
  • FEMA AFG grant led by Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training (ALERRT) on Fire as a Weapon Integrated Response: Research-Based Training for Fire and Law Enforcement Personnel
  • FEMA AFG grant led by the University of Texas at Austin on Improving Firefighter Safety on Firegrounds Involving Li-Ion Batteries
  • NSF grant led by University of California, Irvine on CareDEX: Enabling Disaster Resilience in Aging Communities via Secure Data Exchange.

“As we celebrate our fourth decade of identifying risks and opportunities for improved safety outcomes, our team is grateful for the grant funding that we continue to receive and the trust that others continue to place in our ability to unearth gaps, introduce solutions, and communicate key findings to a wide spectrum of practitioners,” Amanda Kimball, FPRF executive director said. “The work of the Fire Protection Research Foundation is reflective of the NFPA Fire & Life Safety Ecosystem™, and the 40 or so projects that we undertake each year are rooted in the belief that a little knowledge can go a long way.”

For this release and other announcements about NFPA initiatives, research, and resources, please visit the NFPA press room.

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