These days, people are using materials that are better for the environment than in the past, but they burn faster and hotter in most cases if there is a fire, WLTX.com reports. Materials of the past such as cotton and hardwood are being replaced with synthetic carpet, wood veneer and plastic-fiber furniture, which are more cost-effective and environmentally friendly. Fires tend to build more rapidly. That means structure fires are different than they used to be, giving firefighters less time to respond -- approximately three minutes. Within six minutes, the fire will have grown to a size and temperature where everything in the room spontaneously combusts.
"Over the past few generations, we've seen furniture manufacturing,” said Lt. Jeff Taylor, a spokesman for Brevard County (Fla.) Fire-Rescue. “And pretty much all the products we use every day, move from wood-based, cotton fiber, use of wools, into more petroleum-based plastics."
When organic materials such as cotton burn, the outer layer becomes charred, which slows the burn rate, according to Thomas Fabian, research manager for the Fire Hazards Research Team at Underwriters Laboratories. When synthetic materials like polyester burn, they tend to melt, rather than form a charred layer.
"We're seeing those times get faster and faster," Taylor said.
While furnishings are becoming more flammable, so has building construction. Contractors use trusses of many smaller pieces of wood instead of large, thick pieces of lumber to build structures. It’s a more efficient use of lumber, but because there is less wood to burn, the structure becomes weakened more quickly. Because the trusses are built as a system, when one part fails, it affects the integrity of the entire truss.
Both factors give firefighters less time to react to a burning house.
But despite the increased pace at which fires consume homes, the number of home fires in the U.S. has dropped by about half, according to statistics kept by the National Fire Protection Association. Taylor said the decline is due to increased public education on fire safety, increased use of smoke detectors, changes to building code, and improved firefighter training and equipment.
Doug Carter, assistant fire marshal for the county, recommends installing residential sprinklers that work by releasing water when high temperatures are detected, typically about 135 degrees.
"They're very cheap on new construction," he said.
He estimated that on average, sprinkler system would cost about $1.50 per square foot in new homes, and cost about 50 percent more in an existing home.
"They're huge on the lifesaving side of things and on property protection," he said.
Taylor also said that it is important to create an escape plan and practice it.
"If you're sleeping, you need to have that alert to wake you up and get you moving," he said.
Q: In our manufacturing of mouldings, we use red oak and are in the process of trying to monitor casehardening. What is the easiest test to do for this? Prong? Cup? Other? Also, what is the frequency recommended for doing this test? And should the supplier be able to provide us with this information normally based on their testing or drying process?
Hargrove Inc., a trade show and event company, has contributed to 16 consecutive inaugurations and counting.
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This strikes me as a thinly disguised advertisement for sprinklers in residential construction. They were added to the code when sprinkler manufacturers packed the code conference w/ their supporters- in previous years, they'd been voted down by the home-builder contingent.Sprinklers would undoubtedly save lives, but how many at what cost? I have yet to see a cost-benefit analysis for residential sprinklers. If you can't present a decent CBA, you shouldn't be writing something into the code.BobboMax
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