Thursday, June 7, 2012

30 Dowling Circle - ATF Analysis

On January 2011, Firefighter Mark Falkenhan of Baltimore County's Lutherville VFD, a highly respected veteran career and volunteer Firefighter, died in the Line of Duty at a fire in a multi-family dwelling on Dowling Circle.

The Fire Protection Engineers from the ATF Fire Research Laboratory worked with the Baltimore County FD to create a computer model of the fire that resulted in the Line of Duty Death of FF Mark Falkenhan on January 19th, 2011. The following 36 minute video details the entire incident, beginning with the 911 call and ending after the firefighter MAYDAY.

Several alternative fire modeling scenarios were also including as part of the engineering analysis and are included in the video. The purpose of the alternative fire modeling runs were to explore how the ventilation flows paths through the apartment building would differ if apartment entrance doors were shut during suppression/search efforts. The video is intended to be used as an educational tool that provides insight on potential methods for preventing similar tragedies in the future.

Part 1:

Part 2:

Part 3:

The following three conclusions result from the analysis:

1. Unidirectional flow of 600 degree Fahrenheit gases in excess of 6 mph up the stairs resulted in a high rate of convective heat transfer to the firefighters, making initial fire attack down the stairs very difficult.

2. The open apartment entry doors allowed the main stairwell to act as an open channel for fire and smoke spread between the 2nd and 3rd levels, resulting in flashover of the 3rd floor approximately 30 seconds after the 2nd level.

3. The model supported the scene observations and indicated that shutting the entrance doors blocked the flow of buoyancy driven fire gases, ultimately preventing fire extension to the 3rd level apartment via the stairwell.

For more information check out the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives.