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There’s no doubt that the enormous amount of available data in our increasingly sensor-rich environment is changing how we live and work. But how does all of this data – and how it is shared and integrated – relate to the fire safety community and “smart” buildings?

A special workshop at the Fire Protection Research Foundation symposium in Orlando is looking at smart buildings and fire safety, and their implications for building owners, occupants, emergency responders, and other players in the built environment.

The goals of this workshop are to help clarify a baseline understanding of smart buildings, identify current and proposed methods and approaches for gathering data, and processing and using that data.

Kris Overholt of NIST with Casey Grant, Research Director of the Fire Protection Research Foundation

Kris Overholt of NIST provided an overview of a new year-long project designed to develop a roadmap for the smart “firefighter of the future”, which would include integrating the creation, storage, exchange, and analysis of data.

Related:Data Deluge: For firefighters, how much information is too much?

During breakout sessions, attendees considered several aspects of the issue of smart buildings, including how to determine the needs of key target audiences, the challenges of data collection, knowledge gaps, and priority-setting.

Breakout 1

Breakout 2

Breakout 3

Breakout 4

Breakout 5

Breakout 6

Breakout 7

A trio of authors who wrote a research paper on testing the flammability of lithium ion batteries were honored this morning at the Fire Protection Research Foundation’s symposium (SUPDET) in Orlando. Their paper, which was offered at the Foundation’s symposium last year, received the William M. Carey award, which recognizes the best presentation in the Suppression portion of the symposium as voted by participants.

The award was presented to Christopher Wieczorek, Group Manager Fire Protection at FM Global; Benjamin Ditch, Senior Research Engineer at FM Global (who was unable to attend this symposium); and Tom Long, director of Exponent’s Maryland office, for their paper "Flammability Characterization Testing of Lithium Ion Batteries”.

William Carey, for whom the award is named, is a former senior staff engineer at Underwriters Laboratories, Inc. He participated in many Foundation fire suppression projects, and throughout his career, was known for being "the bridge" between research and application of new fire safety knowledge.

Christopher Wieczorek receives Carey Award
Christopher Wieczorek, Group Manager Fire Protection at FM Global, accepts his award from Amanda Kimball, project manager of the Fire Protection Research Foundation. 

Tom Long receives Carey Award
Tom Long of Exponent with Amanda Kimball, project manager of the Fire Protection Research Foundation.


Research Foundation report: Li-ion Batteries Hazard and Use Assessment Phase IIB: Flammability Characterization of Li-ion Batteries for Storage Protection



Video: NFPA's Kathleen Almand talks about the Lithium-Ion battery storage flammability study.

Jeffrey PfaendtnerSM
Why do fire protection systems sometimes fail? During a session today at the Research Foundation’s symposium in Orlando, Jeffrey Pfaendtner of Crane Engineering presented highlights of 13 different case studies that demonstrated a wide range of design, manufacture, installation, and environmental factors that eventually led to system failure.

“No component is immune to failure,” said Mr. Pfaendtner, adding that all materials have their own vulnerabilities and application issues. Failure prevention requires good system design, material choices, and good installation and maintenance protocols. he said.

See Mr. Pfaendtner’s presentation, which includes photos and descriptions from the 13 case studies. 

Daniel Steppan and Ivar Fjeldheim present at the Research Foundation's SUPDET in Orlando.

Daniel Steppan of Underwriters Laboratories and Ivar Fjeldheim, product manager of Autostore, discussed a series of four fire tests to determine the effectiveness of a density/area ceiling sprinkler system to control burning plastic bins and cartons in a vertical racking configuration.

The presentation was part of the Fire Protection Research Foundation symposium being held this week in Orlando.

The tests looked at the storage set-up at AutoStore, which uses robots to collect bins from a tightly packed storage rack constructed of aluminum components. Because people do not normally access the storage area, the probability for unintentional or intentional ignition caused by personnel is considered low. But design challenges, from a fire suppression standpoint, include bins that have solid bottoms that are not permeable to water, and narrow flue spaces that would limit the amount of water from sprinklers that could reach the seat of the fire.

Autostore bins

The objectives of the fire tests was to develop an efficient sprinkler protection concept that could supress a fire at an early stage and protect the building, limit fire spread and damage, anda determine the most effective manual fire-fighting and post fire mitigation strategy.

Read an abstract of this presentation.


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Tom Multer of The Reliable Sprinkler Automatic Sprinkler Co. presented at the Research Foundation's SUPDET in Orlando.

The protection challenges for storage commodities have increased with the storage of more plastics, whether cartooned or uncartoned, expanded or unexpanded. The building heights have also increased, particularly with the use of high bay storage using automated storage and retrieval systems.


In his presentation at the Fire Protection Research Foundation symposium being held this week in Orlando, Thomas Multer of The Reliable Automatic Sprinkler Co, Inc., described a series of fire tests using horizontal barriers and large k factor extended coverage storage sprinklers as in-rack protection. The goals of these tests included reducing the number of in-rack sprinklers required, reducing water demands, protecting buildings higher than 48’ with low water demands, and retrofitting existing facilities without changing the existing ceiling sprinklers or increasing water flows or pressures.


Read an abstract of Mr. Multer’s presentation.



See the Fire Protection Research Foundation report: "Protection of Rack Stored Exposed Expanded Group A Plastics with ESFR Sprinklers and Vertical Barriers (Final test)"</li> </ul>

The inspection, testing, and maintenance (ITM) of water-based fire protection systems was the topic of a presentation at the Research Foundation’s symposium in Orlando.

Bill Koffel, president of Koffel Associates, Inc., who serves as Chair of the NFPA 25 technical committee that addresses the ITM of fire pumps, sprinkler systems, standpipe systems, and other water-based systems, explained that the document does not address deficiencies in the design or installation of these systems.

Mr. Koffel said a workshop was held in Chicago in December 2013 that addressed the performance of sprinkler systems. Attendees, which included manufacturers, insurers, AHJs, and other interested groups, considered what sprinkler performance issues might be effectively addressed by changes in NFPA 25, such as changes to the document scope and content or how it is implemented, applied, or enforced. Also considered were possible changes to other NFPA documents. For example:

  • should NFPA 3 address a periodic re-commission of systems?
  • should re-commissioning be addressed by NFPA 101?
  • should a new standard for conducting design evaluations of sprinkler systems be created?

The final report from the Chicago workshop will be published in the coming months.

View Mr. Koffel’s presentation from the Orlando symposium.

Free online access to NFPA 25.

The first two days of the Fire Protection Research Foundation's "Fire Suppression, Detection and Signaling Research and Applications Symposium" (SUPDET) being held this week in Orlando is focusing on the latest technologies and research on fire suppression. Papers on sprinkler protection, high hazard challenges, developments in suppression technologies, the environment, and water mist.

In addition to the papers already featured in previous blog posts, the following presentations were offered in Orlando:

Analysis of Water Distribution Efficiency from a Sprinkler Head 
James Andy Lynch of Amped R&D, and Noah L. Ryder, P.E. of Custom Spray Solutions

High Discharge Pressures for Large Orifice and Extended Coverage Sprinklers 
Christopher Wieczorek of FM Global

Steve Wolin of Code Consultants, Inc.

Alternatives to Antifreeze Sprinkler Systems
Steve Wolin and Jason Daniels of Code Consultants, Inc.

Sprinkler Protection of Non-Storage Occupancies with High Ceiling Clearance
Peter Thomas of Victaulic

Fixed Firefighting Systems – Oxygen Reduction Systems: Active fire prevention vs. passive fire protection
Peter Clauss of Wagner Group

Hybrid Water Mist Fire Protection
Michael Gollner, Ph.D. and Peter Raia of the University of Maryland

Preliminary Studies on the Efficiency of an Environmentally-Friendly Fire-Fighting Agent Based on Starch 
Paul Joseph, Dimitri Bakirtzis, and Quentin Richard of the School of the Built Environment and the Built Environment Research Institute, University of Ulster

J. Douglas Mather, Ph.D., CGI Federal (Stanley Associates, Inc.)

U.S. Army Hand Held Extinguisher Development: Environmentally Acceptable Fire Suppression Agents and Hardware
J. Douglas Mather, Ph.D., Leonard Lombardo, and Timothy Helton of the U.S. Army

Helen Lowrey of DuPont

Recent Developments of Zero ODP, Low GWP Clean Fire Suppression Agents
Mark L. Robin – DuPont Chemicals & Fluoroproducts
Presented by Helen Lowery, Senior Account Manager at DuPont

Zachary Magnone of Tyco Fire Protection Products

The Science Behind Water Mist Protection of Typical Building Hazards
Zachary Magnone of Tyco Fire Protection Products

Water Mist in Buildings: Typical Challenges in Real World Applications 
Stuart Lloyd of Zurich Risk Engineering UK

Deluge and High Pressure Mist Systems in Highway Tunnels – the International State-of-the-Art 
Norris Harvey of Hatch Mott MacDonald 

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