By Kristen Johanson

DELAWARE COUNTY, PA (CBS) — Dozens of firefighters throughout the region gathered in Delaware County to watch and learn how a structure burns, in hopes of using the research to help them combat basement blazes.

Philadelphia’s finest were among them in hopes of gaining new insight.

Trained fire researchers carefully crafted a two-story house, only to burn it down.

“What we hope to gain with every burn is a better understanding of how fires behave in enclosed, below ground spaces,” explained Philadelphia Fire Commissioner Adam Thiel.

In 2014, Philadelphia firefighter Lt. Joyce Craig died while being trapped inside a row house basement.

“Joyce Craig’s death was unfortunately one of many that we’ve seen,” said Thiel.

firefighters Firefighters Burn Down House In Delco, For Research

Firefighters around the region participated in the educational “burn.” (credit: Kristen Johanson)

He says this exercise, known as a “burn,” will help to figure out how best to fight basement blazes, using 200 heat sensors inside the structure.

“That actually allows us to see almost in real-time what’s happening to the fire, what the fire is doing, what the heat and smoke and toxic gases are doing throughout the structure,” Thiel said. “We change particular variables: open this window, close that window. Open this door, close that door.”

Once the data is complete, a guidebook and video will be available to firefighting departments across the country.


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