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Trend of Research and Technology of Sensing and Extinguishing Building Fires in the U.S.A.

pdf icon Trend of Research and Technology of Sensing and Extinguishing Building Fires in the U.S.A. (906 K)
Grosshandler, W. L.

Fire Detection, Fire Extinguishment and Fire Safety Engineering. NRIFD 50th Anniversary Symposium. Proceedings. Fire Fighting Future 50th Session (FFF50th). Organized by National Research Institute of Fire and Disaster (NRIFD) and Fire and Disaster Management Agency (FDMA) and Sponsored by Fire Protection Equipment and Safety Center. June 1, 1998, Tokyo, Japan, 31-38 pp, 1998.


fire detection; fire extinguishment; fire safety; safety engineering; building fires; fire detection; fire suppression; fire research; sensors


The first step in identifying trends is retrospective, and the second is an examination of the present state, from which predictions can be ventured. The 50th anniversary of the Japanese National Research Institute for Fire and Disaster (formerly the Fire Research Institute) is a most appropriate occasion to assess the trend for fire sensing and extinguishment from a United States perspective. What technologies were available in the U.S. for automatic detection and suppression of fires fifty years ago? Foremost was the traditional water sprinkler. Here was a fully integrated detection/suppression system elegant in its simplicity, with no electrical connections, only one moving part, minimum maintenance, and a history of reliable, effective suppression. Fire detection systems, including the sprinkler link, were primarily thermal in principle, and some were tied into a local audible alarm. Fire extinguishers contained water, CO2, or powder, and normally were dispensed manually. More sophisticated detectors (thermal and radiation) and exotic gases [carbon tetracbloride (CCl4) and chlorobromethane (CH2ClBr)] were under development during and following World War II to increase the protection of military vehicles and aircraft.