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This afternoon at the Suppression, Detection and Signaling Research and Application conference (SUPDET) in Orlando, attendees recieved an overview of projects at the Fire Protection Research Foundation, both recently completed detection and alarm research projects, as well as current and planned initiatives.

Completed projects

Current and planned projects

The Research Foundaion is also planning research on:

  • Applying Reliability Based Decision Making to ITM Frequency for Fire Protection Systems and Equipment
  • Development of a Quantitative Risk Assessment Methodology for Mass Notification Systems
  • Fire Detection in Warehouses, Phase 2 (See Phase I report.)

Attendees then engaged in a small group work to brainstorm to come up with a list of potential research projects. The results of the break-out group discussions will be included in the SUPDET proceedings, which will be published in about a month. 

Group 1

Group 2

Group 3

Group 4

Group 5

A trio of sessions at this week's Suppression, Detection and Signaling Research and Applications Conference (SUPDET) in Orlando focused on cooking fires, which accounts for 44 percent of reported home fires and 16 percent of home fire deaths, according to NFPA statistics.

Presenters from United Laboratories and the University of Maryland, for example, discussed their joint study on identifying predictors that could prevent flaming, stovetop fires. Oxygen and gas concentrations were analyzed during eleven scenarios--including cooking bacon and ground beef in a pan--at the stove, hood, and ceiling levels.

Screen Shot 2013-02-26 at 2.41.21 PM

Similarly, researchers from the Indian Institute of Technology Gandhinagar and United Laboratories India discussed their analysis on parameters that can be used to predict probable occurrences of cooking fires. They noted a similar problem with cooking fires in their country, but added that the use of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) in kitchens is a problem catered to Indian culture. Though more research is required on this issue, the researchers noted that a "multi-level response" for kitchen fires--including an alarm and cutting off the LPG fuel supply--might help get a handle on this problem. 

Gandhinagar Kitchen Fire Safety
Akshay Jain of IIT Gandhinagar and Pravinray D. Gandhi of Underwriters Laboratories, present "Standard Cooking Fire Scenarios for Imminent Fire Detection" at SUPDET 2013. Read an abstract of their presentation.

Daniel Gottuk of Hughes Associates ended the cooking fires segment of the conference with his presentation on a study that aims to develop a standard fire test for cooking fire prevention technologies. The study is a follow-up to a Fire Protection Research Foundation project ("Home Cooking Fire Mitigation: Technology Assessment") completed in 2011 that identified and assessed these technologies. The objectives of the new study are as follows:

Screen Shot 2013-02-26 at 2.15.43 PM

"There are [cooking fire] technologies that are being used and researched," said Gottuk. "There needs to be a standard way to evaluate these technologies on a consistent basis."

Visit the SUPDET 2013 page for more information all of the conference's topics.

Related: Cooking is the leading cause of home structure fires and civilian home fire injuries. This is true for both fires reported to fire departments and those handled without fire department assistance. Download a free copy of NFPA's "Home Fires Involving Cooking Equipment" report by Marty Ahrens. 

How will today's ever-evolving technology impact NFPA provisions related to fire alarm and signaling requirements?

NFPA Journal columnist Wayne Moore of Hughes Associates addressed this question at the Suppression, Detection and Signaling Research and Applications Conference (SUPDET) in Orlando, Florida. The use of ethernet and other non-fire and non-EMS networks has not yet made its way into NFPA 72, National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code, yet the interest to possibly include relevant requirements has been expressed to the code's committee.

Wayne Moore of Hughes Associates

In response to this interest, the NFPA 72 Correlating Committee on Signaling Systems has established a task group to develop proposals around ethernet, local area networks, and wide area networks for fire alarm systems, fire evacuations, and mass notification systems for possible inclusion in the code's 2016 edition.

Another SUPDET session focused on ANSI/UL 2572, a performance standard which was released in 2011, that complements performance requirements in NFPA 72. Larry Shudak with Underwriters Laboratories discussed UL's standard and its focus on mass notification systems in various settings. The specific areas the standard addresses are system construction, product marketing, and testing related to reliability and performance per NFPA 72. (Read the extended abstract of Shudak's presentation.)

Thomas Fabian
Thomas Fabian of Underwriters Laboratories

At this week's Suppression, Detection and Signaling Research and Applications Conference, Thomas Fabian with Underwriters Laboratories highlighted new data from recent fire tests in two-story residential structures. The majority of the research focused on the performance of ionization and photoelectric smoke detection technologies. Some of Mr. Fabian's findings include:

  • Ionization alarms activated earlier than photoelectric alarms in flaming fires
  • Photoelectric alarms activated earlier than ionization alarms in smoldering fires
  • Closing bedroom doors retarded alarm activation by 75-150 seconds for fires in adjacent rooms and less than 600 seconds for fires in remote areas.

Learn more about ionization and photoelectric alarms, as well as NFPA's smoke alarm safety tips.

John Hall
John Hall, NFPA's division director of Fire Analysis and Research, discussed NFPA's response to the growing concern of unwanted alarms at the Suppression, Detection and Signaling Research and Applications Conference (SUPDET) in Orlando, Florida. NFPA's report, "Unwanted Fire Alarms," identifies this concern--in 2009, fire departments responded to 16 false alarms for every 10 fires, and 45 false alarms for every 10 structure fires.

During his presentation, Dr. Hall discussed specific outcomes of a 2011 summit that discussed potential solutions to the unwanted alarms issue. One of them was NFPA's Fire Service Guide to Reducing Unwanted Alarms. Hall gives an overview of the guide in the following video: 


Another outcome from the summit was a project by the Fire Protection Research Foundation to develop a tool for the fire service that would calculate response strategies for unwanted alarms. Here's Dr. Hall's take on this project:


Dr. Hall ended his presentation by listing a series of potential next steps, which may include asking fire departments to beta test the new tool. When asked by a SUPDET attendee if the tool would be highly utilized by the fire service, Hall responded, "If all you have is data that gives you a percentage of calls that are not fires, the tool will do everything else."

Albert Simeoni
There are various means available for detecting wildland fires, and a recent presenter at the Suppression, Detection and Signaling Research and Applications Conference outlined an array of these technologies. Albert Simeoni of Worcester Polytechnic Institute discussed the important aspects of wildfire detection, from preventing fire spread to evaluating the intensity of fires, and what tools are available for local and global analysis.

Some of the technologies highlighted were image processing using satelliates and aircraft, infrared or ultraviolet sensors, and "acoustic" devices that allow users to track a fire through the noise it makes. Many of these tools, however, have its limitations, says Simeoni, who noted that an area's complex topography and smoke might impede the technology's performance.

A potential solution for better protection, adds Simeoni, are wireless sensor networks that are spatially distributed and can monitor a wildfire's temperature, heat flux, and smoke.

NFPA has conducted its own research on wildland fires--more specifically, the Fire Protection Research Foundation has completed a study that reviewed and assessed tools designed to address community wildfire risk, from land use regulation to adopting building codes and standards. Watch the following clip of Casey Grant, the Foundation's research director, giving an overview of this study:

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