For the past few weeks, FDNY officials have been furnishing abandoned row houses on Governors Island with modern furniture. Plush sofas, plastic tables and chairs, even pillows were purchased from hotel liquidators and brought into the buildings once used to house Coast Guard officials. Today, scientists and FDNY researchers are going to burn it all to the ground.
This dramatic experiment is to test whether the FDNY’s tried and true methods are in need of an update. “We’re an organization steeped in tradition…” fire commissioner Salvatore J. Cassano told reporters, “But we owe it to everybody who works for us and the people we serve to look at the way we fight fires.” The FDNY has historically subscribed to the ventilation method. That is, firefighters immediately break windows and saw holes in walls and ceilings to allow smoke and hot gas to escape from the burning buildings. The water comes later.
Some research suggests, however, that modern furniture––which tends to be stuffed with plastic-based insulation––ignites and burns mush faster than older cotton-based insulations. Ventilating a building might suck in the air that the fire needs to get going.
This and other theories will be put to the test as firefighters set and then put out 20 houses this afternoon. The New York Fire Department is among the largest and most-respected fire departments in the nation, so the outcome of today’s experiment could have wide-reaching effects. Considering expectations are that it might reach 90 degrees today without any house fires, I certainly hope the experiments are fruitful. (Photo: Pleroma/Flickr)