VIDEO: Peter Van Dorpe Recommends “The Intelligent Interior Attack”

By Derek Rosenfeld

The second day of FDIC International 2016 pre-conference workshops opened with this high-energy presentation from Algonquin-Lake in the Hills (IL) Fire Protection District Assistant Chief Peter Van Dorpe. Van Dorpe, who is also a retired chief of training with the Chicago (IL) Fire Department (CFD), used his veteran expertise to aid students for when they make The Intelligent Interior Attack.

Van Dorpe explains his foray into the subject by stating, “I was fortunate enough to be invited to participate in the ‘Structural Stability of Engineered Lumber Under Fire Conditions’ study done by UL back in 2006/07. James Dalton [CFD] and I helped write the ‘Fire Service Learnings’ segment of the subsequent outreach program. I have been associated with the UL and NIST groups ever since, assisting with the dissemination of the research findings and tactical recommendations.”  

Here, Van Dorpe discusses the importance of the vent and positive pressure ventilation fan at a house fire:


Here, Van Dorpe introduces Underwriters Laboratories’ (UL’s) Mike Alt, who talks to the class and takes questions about some of UL’s upcoming research regarding flow paths and ventilation:


Next, Van Dorpe talks about venting while working with the CFD and shows two incident videos as examples of outside ventilation:


He continued, “Very little true peer reviewed or science based research has been done into firefighting tactics and practices since Layman, Royer, Nelson, and others did their work in the 1950s and 1960s. The way buildings are built and the nature of the fuel loads in them has changed significantly since then. Fortunately, UL and NIST have stepped into the breach over the last decade to help build on those foundations and help prepare us for the modern fire environment.”

Everything about the built environment is changing, and all of our occupied spaces, both residential and commercial, are filled with petroleum based products. It is time for the U.S. fire service to re-engage ourselves in the technical and scientific underpinnings of our profession so we are prepared for today’s and tomorrow’s firefight.”

Here, Van Dorpe shows footage of what he considers to be a successful interior attack of an involved vinyl siding home:


On the UL/National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) research, he said, “The work being done by UL/NIST is having an enormous impact on post fire cause and origin investigations. If you are a fire/arson investigator, you simply must be current on this body of work. This work can also have a big impact on fire safety and public education programs. Understanding the data gathered from these experiments is critical for anyone trying to affect public safety and/or fire code legislation. The videos alone are wonderful tools for conveying the potential dangers of a modern home environment to the public. 

“Finally, anyone working on developing best practices for the U.S. fire service will find a wealth of practical information within the UL/NIST work.”

About FDIC, he said, “For me, the best part of the show is its universality. EVERYONE is here. This is where you have to come to get the pulse of our profession.”

Van Dorpe concluded, “Don’t let your ventilation operation get ahead of your suppression operation. This happens MUCH more frequently than we want to think, and it inevitably leads to bad things on the fireground.”


Derek Rosenfeld is an associate editor for Fire Engineering and a member of the FDIC International 2016 event management team.

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