Crew size affects firefighters' ability to respond to residential fires: report

May 13, 2010

Four-person firefighting crews are able to most effectively handle firefighting and rescue operations in a typical residential structure, a new report from the National Institute of Standards and Technology suggests.

Researchers conducted controlled fire experiments in a two-story, 2,000-square-foot test facility and gauged responses to 22 standard firefighter tasks, including occupant search and rescue, time to put water on the fire, laddering, and ventilation. Crews of two, three, four and five firefighters were timed in their performance of these tasks.

Results found that four-person crews were able to complete the tasks 30 percent faster than two-person crews and 25 percent faster than three-person crews, the report said.

NIST said the report is the first to rate the impact of crew size on residential fires, although previous reports have indicated the benefit of five-person crews in larger, higher-hazard structures.