Fire Chief Bruce Wade is­sues warn­ing

The Drumheller Mail - - CLASSIFIEDS - Bruce Wade... Krystin McHugh The Drumheller Mail

Changes in the way we live have also made changes to the way house fires burn. The time it takes to go from sur­viv­able to dev­as­tat­ing dur­ing a house fire has be­come a lot shorter due to the ma­te­ri­als all around.

Fire Chief Bruce Wade said, “Peo­ple nowa­days have only a two to four and a half minute time pe­riod to get out be­fore things can get re­ally ugly.”

Chief Wade ex­plained to The Mail that the amount of time to get to flashover has changed sig­nif­i­cantly be­cause of ar­chi­tec­ture, engi­neer­ing and syn­thetic ma­te­ri­als. Flashover oc­curs at the stage of a fire when all the ob­jects in a space or room have been heated to their ig­ni­tion tem­per­a­ture. This re­sults in flame break­ing out al­most all at once over all the ob­jects and sur­faces in the space.

The Na­tional In­sti­tute of Stan­dards and Test­ing (NIST) con­ducted stud­ies to com­pare the dan­ger of “modern” fires ver­sus home fires that would have taken place 40 years ago. Both rooms in the test were the same size and had the same air flow. One room was fin­ished with fur­ni­ture from the late 70s made mainly of nat­u­ral ma­te­ri­als such as wood, cot­ton, wool, etc. The sec­ond room was made of modern ma­te­ri­als made mainly of syn­thetic ma­te­ri­als like those found in most modern couches and win­dow cov­er­ings. Th­ese rooms were then put un­der the same fire start­ing con­di­tions that were timed to see how long it took the spaces to reach flashover. Ac­cord­ing to the stud­ies, the modern room took only three min­utes and 40 sec­onds to reach flashover, whereas the vin­tage room took over 20 min­utes to reach the same state and the whole room was en­gulfed in flames. It took no time for the syn­thetic ma­te­ri­als to heat to the point of flames. Syn­thetic ma­te­ri­als are petroleum based prod­ucts and when heated can make a sur­viv­able house fire into a lethal house fire very quickly.

Chief Wade said, “I can’t stress it enough when we say smoke de­tec­tors along with es­cape plans are im­por­tant. It can be a mat­ter of life and death.”

Chief Wade also ex­plained new en­gi­neered lum­ber is made to be lighter which makes it fea­si­ble to make rooms big­ger.

“Rooms can be much big­ger now be­cause with lighter lum­ber for the ceil­ing they can span more space with­out need­ing sup­ports. Build­ings are al­ready col­laps­ing when we are ar­riv­ing on scene.” Chief Wade said.

Chief Wade told The Mail that nor­mal re­sponse time is six or seven min­utes and that is all the time it takes for most build­ings to start to col­lapse with modern de­sign and ma­te­ri­als. This cou­pled with modern fur­nish­ing makes a per­son’s es­cape time much smaller than it used to be.

Drumheller Fire Depart­ment Chief

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