Measuring the acoustic response of a compartment fire

Rescue teams have a small window of time to locate a downed firefighter. Their task is made more difficult due to low visibility, smoke, toxic gases, and high temperatures. In the United States, most firefighters are equipped with a Personal Alarm Safety System (PASS) device that emits an alarm sound, when the firefighter becomes incapacitated. Rescue teams can then follow this sound to the source to locate the downed firefighter. While the PASS device has been enormously successful, anecdotal evidence has shown it fails in some interesting scenarios. For example, cases have been recorded where firefighters inside the building were unable to hear the signal, whereas those outside heard it clearly. To explain these cases, and to improve the signal used by the PASS device, it is necessary to understand sound propagation in the fireground environment. This paper will present acoustic transfer measurements inside a laboratory compartment fire, simulating a fire in a residential structure. The research aims to understand how the developing temperature gradient and smoke layer influences sound propagation. A secondary goal is the development and validation of finite element models of fireground acoustics. [Work supported by U.S. Department of Homeland Security Assistance to Firefighters Grants Program.].

Source : Abbasi MZ, Wilson PS, Ezekoye OA. J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 2013; 133(5): 3500.

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