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Aug. 24, 2022

064 - Heat stress in fires - from inside and outside with Denise Smith and Gavin Horn

064 - Heat stress in fires - from inside and outside with Denise Smith and Gavin Horn

This amount of heat flux for this amount of time, routine conditions, check, done. This is how I used to do my engineering and tenability assessment related to heat stress... up till today when prof Denisse Smith and prof Gavin Horn took me on a bumpy journey into the physiology of humans in fire conditions and in personal protective equipment (PPE). It is astonishing, that the stress on the body of the firefighter may be as great from the fire as from their own heat generation due to work being done. If you think about it - it is obvious. PPE protects the heat transfer...both ways! You won't heat up, but you cannot really cool down either. 

This is something that every firefighter knows (feels), but why we - fire engineers should think about that? When we design a building, we design it for firefighter accessibility. We provide them with tools to reach the place of fire and begin efficient extinguishing actions. But what if just getting to the place where the fire is, is so physically exhausting, that efficient actions are unlikely to be carried out? Do we ever think that when we design a risky environment on the 30th floor or 5 floors below the ground? Or when our landscrapers have such vast walking distances, that mistaking an entrance may be an error that costs you dozens of minutes? Boy was I uneducated in this regard, and I am really thankful to Denisse and Gavin for teaching me some really important lessons they have learnt through decades of experiments in this field.

If you would like to learn more, you should check out the websites of their respective institutions, as they are filled with great resources on this subject: