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Firefighting with hindsight

Published on 5 March 2009

Fire fighting with the benefit of hindsight could save lives and reduce damage to property

A new system called FireGrid has been developed to help the fire and rescue services save lives and reduce damage to property. FireGrid will be demonstrated at an Integrated Fire Protection workshop on March 24, 2009 at BRE Global, Watford.

Society's continuous demand for ever safer buildings (that are also more sustainable and efficient), means that our approach to fire safety is constantly evolving. With UK fire-related deaths in 2006 the lowest since 1959, this approach is clearly working - but 491 fatalities show that there is still room for improvement.

When fire fighters arrive at the scene of a fire they often don't know the exact size of the blaze, how it is likely to spread, how the structural integrity of the building will be affected or how its occupants will react.

It is often said that if information available at the time of a major fire could have been made known to the emergency services when they arrived at the scene, the incident might have been handled differently. Such information includes that derived from sophisticated computer modelling tools used in building design to establish in-use fire strategies.

The FireGrid project is developing an integrated emergency response system that, when there is a fire, will capture data from building sensors, assess its validity and accuracy and use it to steer faster than real-time computer modelling of the fire.

These allow, for example the egress of occupants to be modelled to calculate times for total evacuation. Fire growth can be predicted to define potential hazards and to compute the impact of the fire on the structure. Weaknesses can be identified and corrected before the structure is built and optimal management strategies can be organised.

This means that fire fighters can now be provided with information - previously only available in hindsight - about the likely spread of the fire as well as the structural response of the building and the reaction of its occupants before such events unfold.

For details of the event, click here.

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