Understanding and Fighting Basement Fires

Online Training Aims to Reduce Risk and Improve Firefighter Effectiveness When Fighting Below-Grade Fires

Fire Safety
October 20, 2020

Understanding and Fighting Basement Fires

UL's Fire Safety Research Institute (FSRI) "Understanding and Fighting Basement Fires" online course explores the results of fire experiments conducted as part of the collaborative Understanding and Fighting Basement Fires project between FSRI and the International Society of Fire Service Instructors (ISFSI) to reduce risk and improve firefighter effectiveness when fighting below-grade fires. The course is freely available for members of the fire service to take via the FSRI Fire Safety Academy. 

After taking this course, firefighters will be able to:

  • Describe the basic principles of fire dynamics, including he stages of fire development, heat release rate, and flow path.
  • Categorize below-grade spaces based on exterior access and describe the fire behavior associated with each category.
  • Chronicle the previous research that provided the foundation for this project and describe the basement fire experiments.
  • Incorporate tactical considerations based on experimental results into standard operating guidelines to improve firefighter effectiveness, safety, and occupant tenability.

“From a firefighting perspective, basement fires or below-grade fires are the most difficult, challenging and dangerous fires encountered within a residential structure. Over the years, many firefighters have been injured or killed while trying to extinguish a below grade fire. This course consolidates years of research and experience from the fireground to provide tactical considerations that can be incorporated into Standard Operating Guidelines (SOGs) to improve both firefighter safety and occupant survivability," said Dan Madrzykowski, FSRI director of research. 

In part, this project was supported by a Department of Homeland Security and Federal Emergency Management Agency Assistance to Firefighters Grant.

This course is dedicated to the memory of Captain Matt LeTourneau, of the Philadelphia Fire Department, and all the firefighters that have been killed or injured as the result of a basement fire. Matt was involved in planning, preparing, and conducting the ISFSI Study on Understanding and Fighting Basement Fires.


Relevant Resources: 

Resource #1: Understanding and Fighting Basement Fires Research Report