An important part of constructing buildings is including protection in the design. As wildfires and the climate continues to worsen, protection from fire damage is becoming increasingly important. Researchers are constantly looking for ways to make firefighting safer, more effective, and more efficient. In this blog article, we will be going over some of the recent advancements in fighting fires.
Protecting Firefighters Using Wristbands
One of the biggest health hazards when fighting fires is dealing with all of the toxic smoke. In a typical structure you will have plastics and other materials that release toxic gas when burned. Some of the chemicals that a firefighter might be exposed to include carbon monoxide, benzene, sulphur dioxide, hydrogen cyanide, aldehydes, hydrogen chloride, dichlorofluoromethane, and particulates.
This exposure can cause immediate health concerns for firefighters but is most commonly connected to longer-term health problems like cancer.
The most challenging part of this is knowing what chemicals firefighters are exposed to and what the level of exposure was. Just like more things, there is a limit to the exposure to these toxic gases that the human body can handle. If firefighters knew what they are exposed to and how high the exposure was, this helps them make informed decisions.
A team at Duke University has found a solution – the simple silicone wristbands that are everywhere.
Silicone has the ability to “record” the chemicals that it was exposed to and the level of exposure. Using this method, the team and Duke tested out the wristbands on firefighters over a period of 6 days. During those six days, the wristbands recorded exposure to 134 different chemicals.
The next step for the team at Duke University is to track health concerns that might be related to the chemical exposure.
High Rise Fire Fighting Using Drones
As the population continues to expand, high rise buildings are essential to housing such a large population. Unfortunately, fighting fires in high rises the conventional way is essentially impossible. As the high-rises get taller, the challenge grows too.
Even the tallest fire trucks cannot reach top levels of high-rise buildings. This means that we rely on internal fire extinguishing systems, like sprinklers or fire-resistant materials. These have their own problems – they can be slow to deploy, there is little room for error, and these systems aren’t able to be adaptive.
A team at several universities in China has developed the LY100 fire extinguishing system. This is a twin-rotor drone that is equipped with high-pressure liquid fire extinguishing equipment and the extinguishing agent.
The study published in June 2022 in the Journal Fire Special Edition: Building Fire Dynamics and Fire Evacuation, details the development and testing of this new firefighting drone.
With the main advantages of being quick to deploy and highly flexible, the LY100 system is equipped with lasers, video and other equipment to safely navigate through a high-rise structure.
The drone is loaded with one 1000 L high-efficiency water-based fire extinguishing agent tank, one 1000 L special fire extinguishing agent tank, four 60 L ultrafine dry powder tanks, four 60 L high-efficiency water-based pressure tanks. This gives the drone the flexibility it needs to fight whatever type of fire it encounters.
After testing this new system, the authors of the study concluded “The LY100 fire system has strong fire extinguishing capability.” More research is planned to understand and develop the system and its applications.