A massive fire in Itoigawa, Japan, started yesterday morning at a ramen shop. Fanned by winds gusting to 35 miles an hour, the fire spread to 140 buildings and took 10 hours to control, according to news reports. An evacuation advisory was issued to more than 740 people among 360 homes identified as high risk. Fortunately, only two minor injuries have been reported.
While the cause of the fire is yet to be determined, we know that wind-driven fires can spread extremely fast and pose a significant threat to people and property. A fire that occurred in Cambridge, Massachusetts, a few weeks ago, was also propelled by wind, damaging 16 buildings and displaced 125 people.
Sadly, the conditions for a conflagration are still present in many of the world’s older cities. Combustible construction, congested neighborhoods, aging electrical systems, poor fire prevention practices, inadequate water supplies, and limited fire apparatus access are a recipe for disaster. Since 1896, NFPA’s codes and standards, combined with our research, training and public education resources, have focused on ways to prevent these tragic events.
A report from the Fire Protection Research Foundation, Firefighter Tactics Under Wind-Driven Conditions, addresses appropriate tactical options for fire departments operating under wind-driven conditions.