UPDATE (APRIL 19, 2016): Results have been released by UL Firefighter Safety Research Institute.
Simplified drastically, “...Effectiveness of PPV...” translates to a better understanding of when—and when not—to use ventilation fans for horizontal ventilation and aggressive fire attack.
The UL Firefighter Safety Research Institute (UL FSRI) kicked off a $1 million U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) grant in December 2013, to study the effectiveness of fire service positive pressure ventilation during fire attack in single family homes incorporating modern construction practices. (Positive pressure ventilation/attack is often abbreviated ppv/ppa and also called horizontal ventilation). The FSRI had conducted similar research on various aspects of ventilation in the past, but as a ppv manufacture, this one is of special interest to us.
Per the US FSRI website, the purpose of this study had three parts...
First, to learn, because PPV “...was introduced without proper scientific research into its benefits and limitations. The changing fire environment and evolution of the fans themselves have created unknown hazards and concerns. This study will examine the use of PPV during fire attack in modern home geometries...”
Second, to teach. “...To address the concerns the firefighter community has expressed and provide a baseline for choosing the most appropriate type or types of ventilation on the fire ground.”
Finally, for the future. “The results and conclusions of this project will be used to improve firefighting tactics, fireground safety and fire dynamics knowledge. A comprehensive fire service outreach program will make sure that this science meets the street.”
We (VSI), a small, family- and firefighter-owned business proudly manufacturing Ventry® PPV Fans, were thrilled that this highly respected and objective agency researched and gathered scientific evidence on the best use of a product we make. Our thanks go to FSRI and Steve Kerber for allowing us to participate and including our fans in this study.
*Another UL FSRI study in 2009 showed dramatic differences between modern and legacy home furnishings in the context of fire fighting. Video posted on Youtube.
We know that ppv, if used when and how appropriate, is life-saving. We also know that if ppv is employed incorrectly, in the wrong circumstances, it can do the opposite, We also know, through direct experience and observation over the last 3 decades, that modern construction and materials* present complications and hazards that demand new approaches to positive pressure ventilation. Clear, consistent, objective, science-based recommendations for the use of ppv as a fire fighting tactic have been seriously lacking all these years.
It is our sincere hope that the UL FSRI’s study advances knowledge and improves the safety of ppv and ppv fans. We’re confident that fans will have an important place in the firefighter’s tool box going forward, and hope for good guidance on when and when NOT to use it.
While James Neils, our CEO, applied to serve on the technical panel of fire fighters, he instead accepted the invitation to serve on the panel of fan manufacturers. Given his identities as a volunteer fire fighter, mechanical engineer, pilot, and CEO, plus his great fondness for all things science, James was the quintessential kid in a candy story. He traveled three times to the UL FSRI's facility in Chicago, Illinois, where his ideas and experience were incorporated into the experiments. He also got to observe actual ppv fan flow testing in 2014 and live fire tests in 2015. Below are photos taken by James during these visits. Please note: only a few of the photos James took are shown here. To view all photos, please visit our Facebook page. No account or identification is necessary.
Pictures taken in 2013 of the Fan Flow Testing
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