March 16, 2007
Firefighters perform in high stress environments where communications play critical roles in the safety and effectiveness of field operations. Access to information from media, police, and other agencies help incident commanders in their assessment and allocation of resources in the field. Missing, however, is information that tracks changing conditions in burning buildings. A research program, funded by the Building Fire Research Laboratory (BFRL) at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), has developed technology that produces stability indicators for burning buildings in the field. Descriptions of the technology and of the procedures developed in the field are discussed. Results from full-scale burn tests of actual structures and of test specimens are presented. Implications for firefighter training, field operations, and enhanced safety are discussed.
Zee Durón has been a Professor at Harvey Mudd College since 1987, and is currently the Jude and Eileen Laspa Professor of Engineering and Director of the De Pietro Fellowship Program in Civil Engineering at the college. Durón was selected by the National Academy of Engineering as one of the nation's innovative young engineers in 2004. Durón is considered to be a leading developer of field-test procedures aimed at identifying response characteristics from low-level vibrations that occur naturally in structures. His procedures have been applied to field studies of dams, buildings, bridges, tunnels and rockets. Durón has directed field investigations in support of planned modifications at Folsom Dam and currently leads a team of researchers in the development of a monitoring technique designed to alert firefighters of impending collapse in burning buildings. Durón has received funding from a variety of private and government organizations and is a consultant to US and Canadian power utilities, the US Air Force and the US Army Corps of Engineers. Durón has recently been recognized by the US Air Force and the Boeing Company for outstanding contributions leading to the mitigation of shock effects on large launch vehicles, and holds two patents. Durón has written numerous technical reports and has published scholarly papers in Dam Engineering, HydroReview Magazine, Experimental Technique, Journal of Structural Dynamics and Earthquake Engineering, and AIAA Journal. Durón received a B.S. Eng from Harvey Mudd College, a S.M. Civil Eng from MIT, and a PhD in Civil Eng from Caltech.