A report recently released by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) examines the fire dynamics of a house fire in Chicago, where failure of a door released hot gases and resulted in the death of a firefighter.
“The simulation shows that fire in a covered back porch caused a closed steel-faced, wood-framed door to crumble, releasing pressure and causing hot gases to pour into the adjoining hallway where the victim and another firefighter were advancing a fire hose. The coincidental timing of the responders’ “interior attack” and the door’s failure proved to be deadly. In less than 5 seconds, the flow of gases caused the hallway temperature to soar, from about 60 degrees Celsius (140 degrees Fahrenheit) to at least 260 degrees Celsius (500 degrees Fahrenheit), the study found.”
Although this was not a fire door assembly, the video is well worth watching as it describes the effects of a door failure. Fire door assemblies that are not code-compliant could result in similar failures, reminding us once again how important it is for fire door assemblies to be inspected annually as required by current codes.
The written report from NIST can be downloaded here.
Thank you to Charles Anderson for sharing the link!
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As a former firefighter, I have one question. What level of PPE (personal protective equipment) was the captain wearing? The department I was on would not have allowed any entry without full protective gear and SCBA positive pressure air mask on and working. There would be no firefighters in less than that even though it interferes with communication to wear such gear. Conditions can change so fast inside a fire involved structure and no chances should be taken with safety because there is no time when it all hits the fan.
Hi Rich –
I’m not sure what the captain was wearing. Maybe it’s in the written report?
The victim, a 54-year-old captain, was overwhelmed by the rush of fire gases. He was removed to the exterior, revived by paramedics, and transported to a hospital, where he died.
Personal Protective Equipment
At the time of the incident, the victim was wearing structural fire fighting turnout pants, coat, boots, and helmet. The victim was wearing a SCBA and was found with his facepiece on. It is not clear whether his PASS device was sounding or not.
NIOSH investigators inspected the SCBA and turnout gear worn by the victim. The victim was carrying a radio at the time of the incident. The fire department’s standard operating procedure is to assign three radios for each truck company and squad company. The officer and driver/engineer carry radios. The third radio is assigned during roll call at the beginning of each work shift to a fire fighter based upon their assigned duties for the work shift. Duties requiring a fire fighter to carry a radio could include the hydrant fire fighter on engine companies, ventilation or forcible entry, roof ventilation, elevator management at high rise fires, search and rescue and other truck company duties. Note: At the time of this investigation, the fire department was awaiting delivery of a large quantity of radios that would equip every fire fighter with a portable radio.
I am taking that basicly there was some what similar to a flashover, where the Captain was at.
Normally not good for the body.