You are on page 1of 3

THE BEGINNING OF MODERN FIRE PROTECTION ENGINEERING

For more than a century a technical field related to fire control has been served by those who profess to be fire protection engineers. But the field has been near devoid of technical competency. Because the engineering has not been valid, hundreds of thousands of Americans have been wrongly killed and injured. Here I will tell of the beginning of true fire protection engineering. During the 1860s a solution to the building fire was developed. It was the fire sprinkler system. Data that we now have confirms that this system, that automatically delivers a water spray to an early building fire can control the early fire 99.99 percent of the time. Thus this new invention had the potential to virtually eliminate serious building fires and fire deaths. During the 1890s, realizing the fire sprinkler system would gut the profits of the fire insurance industry if allowed to be installed in all buildings, the insurers created a code making organization called the National fire Protection Association (NFPA). The, under the guise of guaranteeing system reliability the NFPA created a code that regulated sprinkler design so that virtually all buildings would be denied sprinkler protection. This guaranteed that fire would continue unabated and therefore the insurers would continue to profit from fire. The NFPA code allowed extremely high valued and high hazard industrial plants to be sprinklered because frequent large loss fires could damage the industry. During 1907 a test facility called Underwriters Laboratories was created by the insurers. A branch of engineering had been created by the insurers even earlier, during 1903. These engineers were taught that the corrupted sprinkler code of the NFPA was the only way to design a fire suppression system using water. The combination of the insurance industry plus its three helpers (NFPA, UL and the FPEs) gained virtually complete control of American fire technology and so-called fire science by the early 20th century. The controls included regulations for building construction. Gradually the codes proliferated; the number of organizations that profited from fire grew. The emphasis on profits from fire grew as the desire to reduce fire faded. Because the fire industry controls under the NFPA/UL/FPEs prevented the installation of automatic fire control systems in nearly all buildings, building fires continued at an extremely high rate. Fire deaths and injuries continued at a very high rate but these human losses simply increased the powers of the regulatory team. However, some effort had to be made to protect lives so that the trio could continue to control the fire technology field for profits. So, to allow building fires to continue unabated while also making an effort to protect human life, the team developed the concept of the fireproof building. The concept was to build the building out of materials that would be able to withstand an internal fire for up to 4 hours without collapsing. Thus, the term fireproof did not mean a fire would not occur, it meant the building could survive a four hour internal fire and presumably firefighters would control the fire before the building collapsed. Further, large fireproof buildings were subdivided with interior fire rated walls so that hopefully any fire would be confined to the area where it started. Then to protect the occupants the

corridors would have fire rated walls and the stairs would be fire rated enclosures so that there would be a smoke and fire free escaped path from the interior to the outdoors. But the problem was that the smoke and fire would often escape the compartment of origin and the escape paths would become deadly. In short, the concept of trapping the fire and allowing the occupants to flee along completely safe exit paths failed more often than not. Whenever the contents of the building burned and occupants were killed before reaching safety, the fire engineers would analyze the loss and conclude that additional structural measures were needed to make the fireproof building safer. Every new regulation increased the cost of construction. And because the idea of making an inherently safe building was fundamentally flawed, buildings became more costly, insurance cost grew higher, the profits of the insurers increased and the people continued to die excessively. First, I want to make it clear that when I say the beginning I mean the beginning. Even today, nearly 3 decades after I began to break down the barriers between the corrupt and deadly engineering and honest and true engineering of fire safety, the progress has been moderate at best. We still have a very long way to go. Beginning during the 1890s and the early years of the 20th century, the fire insurance industry developed three organizations to help maintain the insurers profits high. They were the National Fire Protection Association (NFPAS), Underwriters Laboratories (UL) and the class of engineers called fire protection engineers. The basic solution to building fires at the time was the so-called fireproof building. Codes required many building categories to be built fireproof. The fireproof building was constructed of materials that could withstand a prolonged interior fire.

Perhaps the smoke detector fraud is the easiest to understood example illustrating the difference between true fire protection engineering and corrupt fire protection engineering and the progress of honest engineering. Smoke detectors and devices that are UL Labeled as testers of smoke detectors as marketed and approved (by fire officials) are prime examples of the magnitude of the corruption within the engineering related to fire. Engineering that is blatantly corrupt is predicated on relying on the appropriate codes of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and the certifications of Underwriters Laboratories (UL). Beginning during the 1960s the manufacturers of the ionization device began advertising performance lies within the NFPA Fire Journal. And the performance lies were concealed by inadequate and falsified testing of the device by UL. Further, based on false fire tests and performance lies, the NFPA revised its code to help sell the often deadly device. Because the ionization device the so-called smoke detector could not detect cold smoke meaning visible smoke, UL also approved a spray can that emitted a vapor that was an ideal trigger for the ionization device.

Because the device is a false detector of smoke, because the NFPA produced a corrupt code to help sell the device and because UL rigged fraudulent tests of the device, engineering predicated on the NFPA code and because the UL certification was inherently flawed, systems that have been engineered to comply with the code and approvals is inherently wrong. Of course, if the design engineer steers away from the corrupt codes and the phony fire tests, and the design based on the true performance capabilities of the detection devices that would be real engineering.