Draft report provides recommendations for improving firefighter safety

The National Institute of Standards and Technology last week issued 11 recommendations to improve building, occupant and firefighter safety.

The recommendations were issued in a draft report on NIST's study into the June 18, 2007, Sofa Super Store fire in South Carolina that killed nine firefighters -- the most firefighters killed in a single event since 9/11.

Among the report's recommendations:

  • State and local authorities should develop guidelines on how and when ventilation should be implemented during a fire, and train firefighters on different types of ventilation.
  • Conduct research into the prediction of fire spreading through various materials to improve the performance of compartmentalization.
  • Establish national model codes to require sprinkler systems for all new commercial retail furniture stores and for existing stores larger than 190 square meters.
According to the study, the fire began outside the loading dock area, spread quickly through the showroom and warehouse spaces, and trapped the firefighters inside. Sprinklers were not installed in the building, which the study asserts could have slowed and eventually extinguished the blaze before it left the dock area.

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