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Green Fire Initiatives

There are a number of areas where the issues of fire safety and the environment coincide.  The content on this site will evolve over time as more information becomes available.

Air Quality

Alternative Fuels

Building Materials

Daylighting (Natural Lighting)

Fire Retardants

Lightweight Building Construction

Solar Power

Sprinkler Systems / Water Conservation

Vegetative Roofs

Wind Power

 

Air Quality

New materials are being used in construction and in the contents in green buildings. In addition, when a fire occurs, there are significant concerns regarding the production of greenhouse gases, air pollution and the impact on the carbon footprint.

Codes and Permitting

Firefighting & Operations

 

Alternative Fuels

Alternative fuels are being used in both heating buildings and in cars. These fuels can create issues regarding permitting, storage and suppression that were not being considered previously.

Keeping Iceland Green - Industrial Fire Journal - 4th Qtr. 2009

Fire safety specialist ARK Security commissioned ochiki Europe to deliver the sensing technology forone of Iceland’s most high-profile renewable energy projects in recent years.

Codes and Permitting

Firefighting & Operations

 

Building Materials

A closer look is being taken at the materials used in constructing a building and the contents and furnishings themselves. This may have a significant impact upon how these materials behave during a fire and their ability to resist fire.

Codes and Permitting

Firefighting & Operations

The battle between the Troy New York Fire Department and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute will rage on Thursday at the state level.

Published: Wednesday, March 3, 2010
By Tom Caprood
The Record

 

Daylighting (Natural Lighting)

Daylighting is defined by the Whole Building Design Guide as the controlled admission of natural light into a space through windows to reduce or eliminate electric lighting. Daylighting designs can have a significant impact on the construction of a building's roof, walls and interior space, and thus affect how fires can grow, how fires spread and how fires are fought.

Codes and Permitting

Firefighting & Operations

Green Building Construction and Daylighting: A Chief Officer's Perspective

Oct 1, 2010

BY RONALD R. SPADAFORA

"Green building structures, also known as sustainable buildings, are designed, built, renovated, and operated in an ecological manner. They are created to meet certain criteria: to protect occupant health; to improve employee productivity; to use water, energy, and material resources more efficiently; and to reduce the overall impact of building construction on the environment...

 

Fire Retardants

There are changes happening in the chemicals and processes used to provide fire retardancy in building materials and contents. It is vital to ensure that an effective level of occupant safety is maintained as these changes are implemented.

Codes and Permitting

Firefighting & Operations

International Association of Fire Chiefs asks EPA Administrator to Ensure that Flame Retardants Replacing DecaBDE Minimize Impact on Health and Environment.

 

Lightweight Building Construction

Lightweight building construction, such as lightweight wood trusses, has long been recognized as hazard for fire fighting operations. In order to reduce the amount of material being used in constructing a building, lightweight construction is being employed more frequently with significant impact upon fire ground operations.

Codes and Permitting

Wilmette Passes Fire Sprinkler Ordinance Due to Concerns With Lightweight Construction

ORLAND PARK, Ill., May 20 /PRNewswire/ -- Officials from Wilmette, Illinois, passed the village's first residential fire sprinkler ordinance requiring fire sprinklers in all new homes that are being built with lightweight construction. With the passage of this ordinance, the Village of Wilmette becomes the 67th jurisdiction in Illinois to pass residential fire sprinkler legislation.

Firefighting & Operations

 

Solar Power

Codes and Permitting ~ ~ ~ Firefighting Operations ~ ~ ~ Related Links

 

Codes and Permitting

Oregon Draft Solar Code

Chapter 3 of the Oregon Draft Solar Code addresses the issue of fire fighter access and disconnects.

 

Firefighting & Operations

UL Awarded Grant to Study Firefighter and Photovoltaic System Safety

(UL Media Article) Continuing its tradition of contributing to firefighter safety and leveraging a long history of experience in electrical safety, Underwriters Laboratories was recently awarded a research grant from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security/FEMA 2009 Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program — Fire Prevention and Safety Grants.

The grant funds a project that addresses first responder concerns about fighting fires involving photovoltaic (PV) modules. This research project will investigate firefighter vulnerability to electrical and casualty hazards when fighting a fire involving PV modules and support systems in residential and commercial buildings. The increasing use of PV systems makes the need for this project: PV use is growing at a rate of 30 percent annually in the US. The use of this new technology has complicated traditional firefighter tactics, leaving firefighters vulnerable to severe hazards. Though the electrical and fire hazards of PV systems are addressed through current product standards and certification, a limited body of knowledge and insufficient data exists for the fire service to develop safe tactics during suppression and ventilation activities.

Evaluating the hazards associated with PV systems in firefighting operations will require the design of experimental methodologies based on UL’s historical and current expertise in product testing and standards development. The experiments will develop empirical data to understand the magnitude of the hazards. Methodologies will be based on electrical principals, fire dynamics and firefighting tactics.

UL will share the results and information gained through the research with the fire service community and PV industry through Web-based educational programs, presentations and articles. The results from the study will serve as the foundation for potential PV installation code revisions and the creation of tactical and operational guidelines resulting in improved firefighter preparedness and safety.

For more information, please contact Bob Backstrom at Robert.G.Backstrom@us.ul.com or Steve Kerber at Stephen.Kerber@us.ul.com.

NIST and UL co-hosting a Photovoltaic workshop

NIST and UL are co-organizing a Photovoltaic workshop to be held on Sep. 23-24, 2010 on the NIST campus in Gaithersburg, MD. The preliminary agenda includes presentations by experts in PV materials/systems suppliers, end-users, and regulatory agencies, as well as breakout sessions that will enable focused discussion on technical and research needs in PV materials reliability and lifetime. The outcomes and findings of the workshop will guide NIST in developing measurement science and a possible consortium on the life cycle performance of polymeric materials used in PV applications.

Fire Protection Research Foundation, May 2010

Fire Service Workshop on Solar Power Systems
The NFPA Fire Protection Research Foundation was awarded a DHS grant to study "Fire Fighter Safety and Emergency Response in Pre-Planning and Fireground Tactics for Alternative Energy Technologies." This report is a summary of a meeting held on March 17, 2010 at eh NextEnergy facility in Detroit, Michigan. According to the report's executive summary, "The workshop goal was to identify, review, and assemble best practice information for tactical and strategic decision making by fire fighters and fire ground incident commanders, to assist in their decision-making process when responding to fire and/or rescue emergency events involving solar power systems."

According to the NFPA, the project is scheduled to be completed by summer 2010 and a report will then be generated.

Fire Fighter Safety and Emergency Response for Solar Power Systems (PDF 3mb)
As the use of alternative energy proliferates, the fire service has identified a number of areas of concern with hazard mitigation and emergency response. This includes solar power systems, which are introducing new and unexpected hazards to fire fighters and other emergency responders. The goal of this report is to assemble and disseminate best practice information for fire fighters and fireground incident commanders to assist in their decision making process for handling fire incidents in buildings equipped with solar power systems or in the systems themselves. Specifically, this study focuses on structural fire fighting in buildings and structures involving solar power systems utilizing solar panels that generate thermal and/or electrical energy, with a particular focus on solar photovoltaic panels used for electric power generation.

Solar Safety for Firefighters: The Myths and the Facts

by Dan Fink - FireRescue1.com September, 30th, 2009

"Not too far back in the past, only wildland firefighters would ever expect to see solar electric panels on roofs and in yards during an incident..."

 

These videos, created in October 2009, were initially created to address the needs within the San Jose Fire Department's Training Division. There was wide interest in this video from other fire departments, and it has since been sent all over the US, including requests from Australia, and Europe. It provides basic identification, terminology, and tactical considerations.
Captain Matt Paiss, San Jose Fire Department.

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Related Links

U. S. Department of Energy

The U. S. Department of Energy Solar Energy Technology Program focuses on developing cost-effective solar energy technologies

A discussion of photovoltaics (PV)

Information For Builders and,

PVs connected to the utility grid

 

National Renewable Energy Laboratory

The primary goal of NREL is to make PV a widely accepted building technology in the 21st century,resulting in solar-powered homes and businesses that demonstrate building-integrated PV and solar technologies in marketable applications and partnerships that build on successes. Click here for a basic discussion of Solar Photovoltaic Technology.

Building-integrated photovoltaics (BIPV) research focuses on one of the fastest growing segments of the solar industry—the integration of photovoltaic (PV) panels into buildings during construction. BIPV replaces traditional building materials such as roofs, window overhangs, and walls. NREL researchers investigate how BIPV systems are integrated into buildings to improve building aesthetics and system reliability while reducing costs and utility transmission losses.

 

University of Central Florida, Florida Solar Energy Center

Installing Photovoltaic Systems – A Question and Answer Guide

 

Local Jurisdictions

Goodyear Arizona photovoltaic system plan check worksheet

Lompoc California fire department solar voltaic system review

Alameda California fire department solar voltaic systems standard

Newport Beach California fire department fire safety elements of solar photovoltaic systems

 

Third party laboratories

Underwriters Laboratories

UL listing status

UL Test Program

 

FM Global

Risks

 

Sprinkler Systems / Water Conservation

Codes and Permitting

A key component of green building and site design is reducing the use of water.

    • Automatic fire sprinklers are a key factor in helping to reduce the use of water during manual fire fighting operations.
    • There are also considerations in using "gray water" or recycled water for fire suppression activities which raises a number of concerns.

SQ July-August 2010

An article by Dominick Kasmauskas from NFSA on the proposed changes to the International Green Construction Code and NFSA's recommendations.

Environmental Impact of Automatic Fire Sprinklers

FM Global and the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition recently did a study where they evaluated the environmental impact of automatic fire sprinklers. This study included doing full-scale burns of two living rooms, one sprinklered and one unsprinklered, and measuring the gases and heat generated and the quantity of water needed for suppression in each scenario. This landmark study quantifies the impact of a fire on the environment and the positive impact that sprinklers have on the environment.

 

Firefighting & Operations

"Supply Side" - NFPA Journal, November-December 2009

With water supply becoming an increasingly important environmental and economic issue, a new report delivers a timely message: Residential sprinklers can be easily integrated with local water systems.

Water Runoff and Pollution

Water runoff during fire fighting operations may present environmental risks because of potential pollution. Will it be necessary to start collecting the runoff for treatment and testing?

 

Related Links

NFPA's Blog - "As Green As It Gets"

"As Green as it Gets" highlights the positive impact of fire sprinklers on the environment and cites the FM/HFSC study. Another article titled "The Fire Sprinklers are Coming…" talks about the opposition against the requirement and how counterproductive it is in the fight against fire loss.

 

Vegetative Roots

Links and Information

EcoGeek.org

“Vegetated roofs, or green roofs have a layer of living plants on top of the structure and the waterproofing elements. There are really two types of green roofs, intensive and extensive.
Intensive green roofs often have a soil depth of a foot or more, and require substantial structural elements to support the weight of the whole roof. Intensive roofs can sustain a wide range of plant species and typically require a fair amount of regular maintenance. Because of the additional demands they impose, intensive
roofs are much less common than extensive roofs.
Extensive roofs are much shallower, typically only 2 to 4 inches deep, and are planted with particularly hardy plants. Over the last 50 years or so, this kind of roof has been developed, especially in Europe. But now they are becoming increasingly common in the United States.”

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency - Green Roofs

“Reducing Urban Heat Islands: Compendium of Strategies Green Roofs”

In section “4.3 Fire Safety: "
Green roofs, when saturated with water, can retard the spread of fire, but dry plants on a green roof can be a fire hazard. The most common ways to increase fire safety are to: • Avoid grasses and plants that could dry up in summer and instead use fire resistant plants, like sedums, and a growing medium that is low in organic material content. • Construct fire breaks on the roof— 2-foot (0.6 m) widths of concrete or gravel at 130-foot (40 m) intervals. Another precaution that some practitioners recommend is to install sprinkler irrigation systems and connect them to a fire alarm.”

Greenroofs.com

“Greenroofs.com is an internet news media organization: the international green roof industry’s resource and online information portal. Our Goal is to inform, promote and inspire the earth friendly technology of organic green roof architecture through the interchange of ideas, projects, news, video, travel, research, organization and government updates, marketing opportunities and exclusive features via our website. We recognize that each reader, project, and perspective is unique. Our Mission is to facilitate information, and as “The Green roof Industry Resource Portal,” Greenroofs.com serves an important role as the information database and clearinghouse for the green roof movement worldwide.

Green Roofs for Healthy Cities

“Green Roofs for Healthy Cities’ mission is to increase the awareness of the economic, social, and environmental benefits of green roof infrastructure across North America and rapidly advance the development of the market for green roof products and services.
External Fire Design Standard for Vegetative Roofs (ANSI/SPRI VF-1)

International Green Roof Association

“Fire Prevention - As a part of the "Hard Roof" classification, Intensive Green Roofs provide preventative fire protection in the case of sparks and radiating heat. The criteria that Extensive Green Roofs must meet in order to be considered fire resistant, are already met by most Green Roof systems that are offered by suppliers. Openings within the Green Roof (e.g. skylights) need to be installed with a vegetation free zone (approx. 500 mm or 20 in). On larger roof areas a vegetation free zone (e.g. gravel strip or concrete slabs) are to be installed at least every 40 m.“

CitiRoof Corp

“Fire Resistance Green Roof — Roofscapes that are properly maintained are generally considered to be acceptably fire resistant. Consult local code officials. Green Roof — Roofscapes are almost always installed over concrete decks which produces a high degree of interior fire protection. Most Green Roof— Roofscape systems are irrigated with sprinklers, providing additional fire protection. Nonirrigated systems require firebreaks or firebarrier every one hundred feet, in each direction. Additional vegetation-free zones are required at all roof top openings for additional fire safety. Nonirrigated systems should be manually watered in periods of drought to reduce fire risks. High organic content soil is not recommended for fire-safety reasons.”

Capital Regional District, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

“Fire Safety - Sedum and other succulents are naturally fire resistant, almost eliminating fire concerns. There is evidence from European manufacturers which suggests that green roofs can help slow the spread of fire to and from the building through the roof, particularly where the growing medium is saturated. Other types of vegetation could be of concern and may need to be watered, mowed, and/or maintained to prevent fire hazard before they go dormant during the dry season.”

Codes and Permitting

Firefighting & Operations

 

Wind Power

The use of wind turbines is growing in both the urban and rural communities. Roof-top turbines can be found in cities on top of buildings, at airports, on mountaintops as well as open spaces such as farms.

Codes and Permitting

Firefighting & Operations

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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