Initiated by the Fire Protection Research Foundation, the project reviewed more than 100 pieces of literature to underscore previous studies on this issue and any research gaps. The Foundation's research report, "The Environmental Impact on Fire," summarizes these findings.
During an education session at NFPA's Conference and Expo, WPI graduate students Drew Martin and Mai Tomida highlighted a few high-profile fires, including the Kuwaiti oil fires that resulted from Iraq's invasion into Kuwait in 1990, and the environmental damage from these events. Findings from this project also underscore the effectiveness of sprinklers in significantly reducing an array of environmental pollutants.
Martin noted the landmark study developed by FM Global and the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition (HFSC) that determined home fire sprinklers reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 98 percent and significantly cut water pollution released into the environment.
The presenters also identified research gaps, including difficulty in understanding the true impact of building contents during a fire and the lack of a standardized system to record environmental data globally. One idea they had to bolster this data was a "fire department risk-assessment tool to help departments assess risk with a clear instruction about intervention techniques ... that take the environment into consideration," said Martin.
Following the presentation, audience members were curious about the possibility of a follow-up research project. Moderating the session was Amanda Kimball, the Foundation's research project manager, who said the Foundation is currently discussing the scope of a new study. Researchers were also keen on incorporating the human impact of fire into additional research.
Watch the following video detailing the FM Global/HFSC environmental study: