MCFRS News Release

Firefighting Crew Sizes, Resource Allocations and an Occupant's Ability to Survive

The first study of this kind in decades to examine the affect of firefighting crew sizes and equipment arrival times on fire growth rates and a human’s ability to survive a fire is underway. Funded by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, this firefighter safety and resource deployment study will help governments make informed decisions to better match resources to minimize safety risks to the public and firefighters in these risk-filled environments.

WHEN:      Thursday, Feb. 5, 2009    
11 a.m. – Noon ET
WHERE:    Montgomery County Public Safety Training Academy
9710 Great Seneca Highway
Rockville, MD 20850
(Intersection of Great Seneca Highway and Darnestown Road) 

WHAT:      A media opportunity is being presented in order to view firefighting operations and learn about research on improving overall fire safety and survivability in communities. Firefighting crews will respond to and suppress a live fire in a “residential structure burn prop” constructed for the experiments. The experiment is part of research to measure the effect of firefighting crew size and fire equipment arrival times on the potential for saving human life and property. Several subject matter experts will be available for interviews.

Montgomery County (Md.) and Fairfax County (Va.) firefighters have been responding to ‘live’ residential structure fires in a specially designed test facility as part of the some experiments to study the effect of firefighter crew sizes and equipment arrival times on fire growth rate, fire victims escape ability and damage to property.

The study is being monitored by the Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), with funding from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program.  All activity including fire response, firefighting tasks, fire growth analysis and associated documentation takes place at the Montgomery County Fire Training Center in a specially designed Class A (ordinary Combustible) burn building that was recently built exclusively for this purpose.

As part of the study, Skidmore College, in Saratoga Springs, NY has been assessing the heart rate of firefighters while working on the fire ground based on their position on the crew and the crew size in the study.

A special fire and response experiment for the media will take place at 11:00 a.m. on Thursday, February 5, 2009, at the Montgomery County Public Safety Training Academy, located at 9710 Great Seneca Highway, in Rockville, Md.

Other participants in the study include (alphabetically): Center for Public Safety Excellence (CPSE), Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department, International Association of Firefighters (IAFF), International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC), Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service, National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), Urban Institute (UI), and Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI).

With the economy struggling and local governments possibly thinking of cutting services, this study may provide the scientific data to local governments in order to make informed decisions when matching firefighter crew sizes (staffing) and mobile resources to the risk levels and needs of their individual communities