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New Technology Could Increase Fire Safety of High Rise Buildings



Preliminary results of tests measuring the effectiveness of positive pressure ventilation (PPV) show that show that PPV significantly reduces the temperature and amount of smoke in the corridors and stairwells outside the burn rooms, according to the National Institute of Standards (NIST), which conducted the tests with the Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) and Chicago Fire Department (CFD).


Preliminary results of tests measuring the effectiveness of positive pressure ventilation (PPV) show that show that PPV significantly reduces the temperature and amount of smoke in the corridors and stairwells outside the burn rooms, according to the National Institute of Standards (NIST), which conducted the tests with the Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) and Chicago Fire Department (CFD).

PPV is the use of powerful fans during fires to force smoke and heat from corridors and stairwells so that they stay passable and safe for both escaping occupants and entering emergency responders. In past events—such as the October 2003 blaze in a government building in Chicago where six people died—fire flow into corridors and stairwells often has resulted in tragedy.

Eleven NIST researchers worked with more than 70 CFD and CHA staff for the two weeks prior to the experiment to prepare the building. All 16 floors were equipped with temperature and pressure monitors while the three burn floors also included cameras, heat flux gauges and typical apartment furnishings. The entire setup was connected to the data acquisition center by seven miles of cable.

Once the fires were under way, a variety of ventilation tests were conducted. In one test, a large fan was placed at the front door to force cool air up through the building. In another test, two smaller fans—one on the first floor and one two floors below the fire floor, both forcing air into the stairwell—were used to achieve the same PPV effect. In one case, the temperature quickly dropped from 316 degrees Celsius to 16 degrees (600 degrees Fahrenheit to 60).

A NIST report on the tests is expected to be released in the spring of 2007.




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  posted on 12/4/2006   Article Use Policy

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