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February 28, 2013 Previous day Next day
Christopher Wieczorek
Christopher Wieczorek of FM Global presents findings from recent lithium-ion battery burn tests

If you own a laptop or cell phone, chances are these devices are powered by increasingly popular lithium-ion batteries, which refer to a family of battery chemistries using a flammable electrolyte. The potential fire hazards of these devices and related suppression methods led today's "high hazard challenges" track at the Suppression, Detection and Signaling Research and Applications Conference (SUPDET) in Orlando.

R. Thomas Long of Exponent, an engineering consulting firm, provided details on the first phase of a Fire Protection Research Foundation project that identified and assessed the life cycle hazards of these batteries. The project's second phase included fire tests with three types of lithium-ion batteries in storage settings and suppression methods. SUPDET presenter Christopher Wieczorek of FM Global outlined some key test results, noting that similar initial fire growth rates occurred for all three commodities. Future research will need to determine the effects of large-scale tests of these batteries. The Foundation anticipates the release of the Phase II report by April.

Check out the NFPA Journal feature outlining NFPA's response to storage and safety concerns of lithium-ion batteries.

Jason Floyd
Attendees at the Suppression, Detection, and Signaling Research and Applications Conference (SUPDET) in Orlando received a wealth of information on a sprinkler system's role in protecting increasingly popular cloud ceilings, or suspended ceilings covering a portion of a room or space. 

"There hasn't been much significant research on cloud ceilings," said presenter Jason Floyd with Hughes Associates. Moreover, NFPA 13, Installation of Sprinkler Systems, does not provide any definitive guidance on automatic sprinkler installation for these ceilings.

Floyd noted that a project under way by the Fire Protection Research Foundation has identified research gaps and initiated fire tests to examine this issue. Results from the project, anticipated for completion later this year, will be shared with NFPA 13 committee members for them to consider when developing the standard's next edition.

For more information on cloud ceilings and how this building feature is addressed in NFPA 13, read the NFPA Journal column "Head's Up" by NFPA's sprinkler expert Matt Klaus. Also, read the Journal feature story highlighting cloud ceilings and other key components of the 2013 edition of NFPA 13.

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

Carey AwardAmanda Kimball of the Fire Protection Research Foundation presents the William M. Carey Award to Rajesh Melkote.

Rajesh Melkote of United Technologies was honored this morning in Orlando for having the best presentation in the suppression portion of the Research Foundation’s 2012 symposium.

Mr. Melkote, who spoke last March on “Next Generation Fluorine-Free Firefighting Foams” during the Foundation’s SUPDET event, received the William M. Carey Award.  His paper was chosen based on a vote by symposium participants.

Mr. Carey, a former senior staff engineer at Underwriters Laboratories, Inc., participated in many Foundation fire suppression projects, including the first: The National Quick Response Sprinkler Project. Throughout his career, he was often known for being "the bridge" between research and application of new fire safety knowledge.

Hall redundancyFire protection features and systems have their backups, or "redundancies," and the reliability of both components is crucial in preventing loss of life and property.

John Hall, NFPA's division director of Fire Analysis and Research, discussed these redundancies at the Suppression, Detection and Signaling Research and Applications Conference (SUPDET) in Orlando during the first series of sessions on suppression. During his presentation, Dr. Hall provided a "redundancy analysis" that uses risk-based language and criteria to evaluate the relationship of fire protection strategies.

Dr. Hall also provided a few real-world examples of fire protection redundancy, including sprinklers and passive fire protection (or, barriers to fire spread). Dr. Hall notes there is limited data on the latter, yet there exists a listing of major fires where the inadequacy or poor performance of a system feature was identified during an incident. If more data were available, argues Dr. Hall, then we could begin to quantify the interaction of passive fire protection with sprinkler systems.

Read the abstract of Dr. Hall's presentation.

During this morning’s session at the Research Foundation’s Suppression, Detection and Signaling Research and Applications Symposium (SUPDET) in Orlando, three speakers presented the latest thinking on sprinkler protection technologies and challenges.

Wes Baker
Wes Baker of FM Global

Wes Baker, Senior Engineering Technical Specialist at FM Global, presented an overview of Chapter 21 in the 2013 edition of NFPA 13, Standard on the Installation of Sprinkler Systems. The intent of this chapter is to provide alternative protection options to those found in Chapters 12-20 based on sprinkler characteristics (K-Factor, orientation, RTI rating, sprinkler spacing type, and temperature rating).

Related: 13 things you need to know about the 2013 edition of NFPA 13.

Scott Futrell
Scott Futrell of Futrell Fire Consulting and Design

In his presentation on “Fire Sprinkler System Reliability: Arguments Regarding the Use of CPVC in Fire Sprinkler Systems”, Scott Futrell of Futrell Fire Consulting and Design, spoke about the risks and reliability of CPVC (Chlorinated Poly Vinyl Chloride) piping. He said NFPA 13 has allowed the use of nonmetallic piping since 1984, and maintains that handling, installation, outside influences, contractor decisions and end-user choices all have impacts on the life expectancy of CPVC pipes and fittings. Read an abstract of his presentation.

Joe Scheffey
Joseph Scheffey of Hughes Associates

Joseph Scheffey of Hughes Associates, spoke about the “Evaluation of Water Additives for Fire Control and Vapor Mitigation”. He said that various water additives are available in today’s marketplace that claim to provide advantageous performance characteristics for fire control and vapor mitigation. Of particular interest are additives that report to provide superior fire suppression capabilities through emulsification or encapsulation. Read an abstract of his presentation

Related: A Fire Protection Research Foundation project has been established to provide a comprehensive evaluation of water additives with the intent to clarify the fire protection benefit of using water with additives for fire suppression versus water without additives. This project directly relates to the requirements of NFPA 18A, Standard on Water Additive for Fire Control and Vapor Mitigation. Read the project summary.

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