The LWF Blog

Fire Engineering Design and Risk Assessment – Assessment of landing valve locations – Part 39

October 24, 2019 4:43 pm

In LWF’s Fire Engineering blogs for architects and others working in the building design business, we have been looking at how the assessment of required locations for landing valves should be approached. In part 38, we began by noting there are substantial differences between the recommendations of Approved Document B and NFPA 1 regarding the location of landing valves. In part 39, we will consider optimum locations by discussing the practical ramifications, starting with firefighting procedures and the physiological limits of firefighters.

In 2004, a study, Physiological assessment of firefighting, search and rescue in the built environment. Fire Research Technical Report 2/2005 (ODPM 2004) was carried out to assess the physiological limits of firefighters. The study involved a series of controlled experiments which tested the maximum distance it was considered possible to penetrate into a fire compartment for the purposes of firefighting and rescuing casualties.

The single largest performance-limiting factor the firefighters displayed was heat strain and it was determined the number of stairs that had to be climbed was the most significant factor, due to the wearing of personal protective equipment (PPE), breathing apparatus and the fact that firefighting and rescue equipment had to be carried.

One trial carried out involved asking the firefighters to climb 28 flights of stairs in a building, wearing standard PPE with the purpose of entering the compartment of fire origin to fight the fire and carry out search and rescue. The first team carried extended-duration breathing apparatus (EDBA) and the second team were the hose team. As climbing stairs in protective gear while carrying EDBA and hose is extremely physically taxing, by the time they reached the 28th floor, the physiological data indicated that the lead team were not fit to commit to the fire compartment and carry out the remainder of their task.

The research showed that firefighters should be able to penetrate into a fire compartment to facilitate search and rescue if no stair climbing is required to gain entry, for a maximum distance of 34 m. This distance was reduced if firefighters had to climb flights of stairs prior to reaching the site in question. Climbing two floors, for example, reduced the penetration distance to 32 m and an increase in the number of stairs to be climbed resulted in a drop in penetration distance in each example given.

In part 40 of this series, LWF will continue looking at the physiological limits of firefighters and how this impacts the placement of landing valves. In the meantime, if you have any questions about this blog, or wish to discuss your own project with one of our fire engineers, please contact us.

Lawrence Webster Forrest has been working with their clients for over 25 years to produce innovative and exciting building projects. If you would like further information on how LWF and fire strategies could assist you, please contact Peter Gyere on 020 8668 8663.

While care has been taken to ensure that information contained in LWF’s publications is true and correct at the time of publication, changes in circumstances after the time of publication may impact on the accuracy of this information.

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