Studying the Effectiveness of Fire Service Vertical Ventilation and Suppression Tactics

This fire research project developed the experimental data that was needed to quantify the fire behavior associated with fire service vertical ventilation.

Increasing understanding of the modern fire environment and firefighting tactics

There has been a steady change in the residential fire environment over the past several decades. These changes include larger homes, more open floor plans, lightweight construction and an increase of synthetic furnishings. This project examines the influence of these changes to the fire behavior and subsequent impact on firefighter tactics relative to horizontal and vertical ventilation.

Vertical ventilation has been used successfully, but has also resulted in tactical firefighter failures in the past. Vertical ventilation is not as easy as horizontal ventilation when it comes to coordinating with suppression and other fireground tasks. Due to the limits of current fire service training structures, firefighters have limited opportunities to train on the effects of vertical ventilation. Most training structures are not equipped with fuel loads or floor plans that would represent what a firefighter would actually encounter on the fireground.

Understanding fire dynamics associated with vertical ventilation

Since any fire service guidance on the effectiveness of vertical ventilation has come from various fireground conditions and real-life experiences, it has been difficult to develop comprehensive guidance on the coordination of vertical ventilation alongside other firefighting tactics. This makes it very difficult to understand how the coordination of these tactics may influence fire behavior inside a burning structure.  

The purpose of this study is to improve the understanding of the fire dynamics associated with the use of vertical ventilation and to equip firefighters more effectively utilize it on the fireground.

Fast Facts

  • This project examines the influence of the modern fire environment to the fire behavior and subsequent impact on firefighter tactics relative to horizontal and vertical ventilation.
  • Analysis of this data resulted in the immediate development of the necessary firefighting ventilation and suppression practices to reduce firefighter death and injury.
  • This research project was funded by the Department of Homeland Security Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program.