Study of Smoke Characterization Could Change the Face of Fire Safety

The Fire Protection Research Foundation (FPRF) and Underwriters Laboratories (UL) announced the completion of a study that enhances the fire safety community’s understanding of modern fire hazards and may eventually lead to changes in how people are kept safer from fire. 


The Fire Protection Research Foundation (FPRF) and Underwriters Laboratories (UL) announced the Download the report for free .

Until recently, these different smoke characteristics couldn’t be studied in such detail. In developing the Smoke Characterization Project, UL invested more than $500,000 to conduct the study and to secure the latest scientific measurement equipment. With this advanced analytical ability, UL’s fire science experts were able to investigate the chemical and physical properties of smoke at a new level of sophistication.

“This review is the first of its kind to study such a wide range of materials...,” said Kathleen Almand, executive director of FPRF. “What we are learning will enable public safety officials to further develop education and training programs regarding the use of smoke alarms in residential structures and provide valuable data to fire science engineers as they strive to develop new smoke detection technologies.”

“The initial results of this project reflect that smoke can no longer be characterized just by color or density, but that smoke is highly complex and chemically different based on each unique fire event,” said John Drengenberg, UL’s manager of Consumer Affairs. “From the sheer amount of data we’ve gathered, we believe the results will change the way the fire community perceives smoke produced in home fires, which could further reduce the risk of injury or loss of life due to fires.”

Drengenberg said the study will also help material scientists better understand how materials decompose in fires and may lead to the development of safer materials.

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