Firefighter Health and Wellness

Escape Time, Smoke and Public Safety [Including Firefighter Safety]

Fire safety strategies employ a broad range of factors to advance overall fire safety as well as minimize the risks from heat and smoke when a fire does occur.  

The overall fire safety objective is to reduce the potential for death and injury to the occupants of a fire, as well as others who may become involved such as firefighters and other emergency responders. 

Also important are efforts to minimize property loss and damage; this includes protecting contents and ensuring that as much as possible a home, office building or vehicle involved in a fire can continue to function after a fire — and that it can be repaired. The risk to adjoining property also needs to be considered, as well as possible environmental pollution.

Overall fire safety planning includes important design factors — including building design and product design. This includes considerations related to occupant health and escape-time. 

Such planning starts with avoiding ignition overall and minimizing the spread of fire and resulting smoke generation should a fire occur.  

Flame retardants can help with this by reducing the risk of fire and increasing overall escape time.  

Flame retardants have the added benefit of also helping increase the time for firefighters to respond to a fire and creating a safer environment for emergency responders to operate. So flame retardants protect occupants as well as firefighters and other emergency responders.

“Research shows robust fire safety standards significantly increase fire safety and escape time.” A comprehensive study by Southwest Research Institute, one of the world’s largest organizations dedicated to fire research and testing, demonstrated that stronger fire safety standards and products utilizing flame retardants increased escape time by as much as 15 minutes and also reduced the amount and level of dangerous smoke.1 Source: Blais, M.S., Carpenter, K. & Fernandez, K. Comparative Room Burn Study of Furnished Rooms from the United Kingdom, France and the United States. Fire Technology 56, 489–514 (2020).

Flame retardants used in key applications can also help ensure firefighter safety by helping minimize injuries to emergency responders.  For example, by preventing or delaying the scale of a fire and damage to key entry and exit points (like rooftops, doorways, stairwells, etc.) flame retardants can help reduce firefighter injuries.