We reviewed the NFPA Foundation's comprehensive research study on firefighter air replenishment systems (FARS), which was written by researchers at New York University's Fire Research Group. Here are some key excerpts and research data from their report.
NOTE: The report states that FARS have not been used in a working fire. Since the publication of the report, a FARS was deployed in a working fire on the 12th floor of a luxury high-rise apartment building in Frisco, TX. A total of 19 units and 43 personnel were used to extinguish the blaze. The FARS system performed perfectly, and, more importantly, there were no civilians or firefighters injured.
From the Report Summary:
FARS is the Obvious Solution to Bottle-Brigading
"The two crucial elements necessary for firefighters to fight any fire are water and air. While water standpipes are readily accessible to firefighters in high-rises, allowing them to have a reliable immediate water source, the same is not true for air. Firefighter air replenishment systems (FARS) are essentially standpipes for air. Without FARS, in the event of the high-rise fire, firefighters would have to rely on the limited number of air bottles in the fire-equipment / cache room, if available, or manually haul the air-bottles to the staging area (also called 'bottle-brigading') which can consume a significant amount of time, manpower, and other resources."
Fire departments overwhelmingly see the value of FARS, especially in jurisdictions with high-rises.
- More than 77% of all respondents said they would like to use FARS in real fires, or may deploy FARS in the field.
- That number climbed to 80% in jurisdictions that include more than the average number of high-rise buildings.
- According to the report, "This highlights the need for urban fire departments with a higher concentration of high-rise structures for a solution that may avoid or facilitate the 'bottle-brigading' operation."
Fire departments see numerous benefits to FARS.
- 61% of respondents cited air supply in close proximity to the fire location as the primary benefit of FARS.
- 10.5% identified more efficient use of staff by avoiding fatigue and the time involved in bottle-brigading as the primary benefit.
- 10% pointed to lives saved by supplying air in an IDLH environment as the most compelling benefit.
- 18.5% cited other benefits.
Fire departments accept testing and maintenance protocols.
- 73% of respondents said they were comfortable with the testing and maintenance of FARS performed by a certified third party and coordinated by the building owner or may accept these procedures.