Innovation in firefighting equipment and methodology

Researchers in the University of Waterloo Fire Research Group continue to work closely with municipal, industrial and military fire service personnel to assess and/or to develop innovative new firefighting equipment and methods. These research efforts include:

Interactions between various suppression agents and methods

In recent years many fire fighting agents (gels, wetting agents, protein foam, F-100, water mist Pyrocool, etc.) have been introduced into the field. Current in-field test procedures are not always standardized, making it extremely difficult to compare the effectiveness of new agents relative to existing ones, in particular fire applications. The aim of this research is to address potential inconsistencies and produce comparison test results in the context of structural fire applications. The influence of the agents on a realistic working fire environment is investigated through continuous measurements of temperature, thermal stratification, relative humidity and velocity in a fire room throughout the fire growth, and fire enclosure stratification suppression stages. Global properties of the agents, such as surface tension and ambient cooling effects, fuel penetration and inhibition of re-ignition of the fire, can also be examined.

Minimization of fire impact through improvements to fire sensors and detection

Detailed investigations of the development and spread of hot fire plumes through structures under various ambient conditions allows key variables such as temperature rise, ceiling temperature and particulate and gas species production to be monitored in a time varying sense that will allow identification signals that might form the basis for improved sensor technology. Current detectors are evaluated (based upon time to activation, smoke levels at activation, etc.) for a variety of fire scenarios, providing further data to be used not only in assessing the effectiveness of existing fire detectors, but also to guide development of new small-scale sensor designs appropriate for use in fire detecting robotic systems.

Effect of wind, ventilation and Positive Pressure Ventilation (PPV) on fire growth and spread, and movement of smoke in structures

PPV is a forced ventilation technique used to cool and remove smoke from buildings, designed to allow for a brief window of time during which fire and rescue teams are able to search the building. Use of the technique during real fires has given rise to disastrous circumstances, however, under certain ambient conditions, certain situations of prevailing wind and for some locations of flow pathways within a structure. Similar situations have been observed in other fire scenarios involving forced and/or natural ventilation systems.

The research quantifies and characterizes the impact that ambient conditions have upon the effectiveness of forced or natural ventilation systems and PPV for clearing and removing smoke (or other gases) from areas within a structure. To that end, the effects of wind magnitude and direction on ventilation during a working fire is studied to better characterize the expected interactions between ventilation systems, fire growth and development and flame spread.


Fire service research and training