FSA closing accelerates nozzle testing
Vol. 27 Winter 2012
For years, major research has focused on the design of protective gear that will insulate firefighters from the heat of a fire. Heat has been treated as a byproduct rather than an element of the fire.
Eugene Ivy of International Fog, Inc. takes a different approach. His design of a piercing fog nozzle known as First Attack uses the emission of fine mist molecules of water in massive volumes to not only protect the firefighter from the heat but remove heat from the fire, thus extinguishing it faster.
One of the last major events at the University of Nevada, Reno Fire Science Academy is his most recent test to document with thermal imaging cameras the cooling effect the nozzle has in major fires.
Using a Fleer infra-red camera, the technician shooting the test video was positioned behind Ivy who used the fog nozzle to slowly approach the burning test prop.
“IR sees through glass and water vapor,” Ivy said. “What the thermal imaging camera picked up was the core of the fire itself.”
The IR footage documents the IFI claim that First Attack removes at least 95 percent of the heat to which a firefighter is normally subject. As soon as Ivy got within five feet of the fire with the nozzle operating, the temperature dropped from 1,900 to 87 degrees Fahrenheit.
“The screen went from solid red, which was the flame column, to blue almost instantly,” Ivy said.
IFI maintains its own live-fire training prop at the academy.
“It’s a containment system built around a six-inch supply pump scenario,” Ivy said. “It has six nozzles on it and is free standing. We built it that way so FSA could move it around wherever they wanted.”
First, Ivy ignited a test fire to establish a base reading for the thermal imaging camera. Then the prop was shut down and cooled to take a reading with no fire. Assisting in the rapid cooling was a local cold front in mid-December that dropped temperatures to four degrees F.
“We let the prop cool to a reasonable ambient temperature of about 85 degrees F,” Ivy said “Then we lit it off again, putting a lot of fuel to it.”
The nozzle was brought to bear against this fire.
IFI obtained about 45 thermal imaging shots of the prop and various First Attack nozzles – the 1½ –inch, the one-inch and the 2½ –inch.
“We used different configurations with the containment system to see which offered optimal protection,” Ivy said.
The design of modern protective gear causes firefighters to stay longer in fires that are hotter. Once the heat penetrates the gear they suffer burns or heart attacks.
Aside from offering firefighters more protection, First Attack uses less water, thus causing less water damage in structural fires and less water runoff in exterior fires.
Losing FSA as a testing site came as a shock, Ivy said.
“We had generated a pretty good rapport with those guys,” Ivy said. “When we went out there we had access to the entire field. Whatever we wanted to do, they would set it up for us.”