Analysis of smoke deaths in fires

Here we are going to analyze the causes that lead to suffer serious damages and until the death of the people trapped in a fire whose cause have not been the burns but the smoke. Carbon monoxide has long been blamed for its effects on the oxygen transport capacity of the carbon monoxide, and recently attention has been paid to hydrocyanic acid, commonly known as Cyanide, which has a similar effect, but hardly Reversible, not like the monoxide that when treated with pure oxygen or with a hyperbaric chamber can be reversed oxygen transport capacity, but not brain damage, if there has been. Even today, in developed countries, there is a modern antidote for cyanide that removes it from the blood, thereby preventing further damage. Both are invisible and undetectable, acting slyly and without being noticed. But it is precisely these gases that we consider the real responsible for the majority of the deaths and affected for life in a fire, since both are mortal and / or capable of causing serious damage to the nervous system, both need more Of 15 minutes to begin to act, being that time more than sufficient to evacuate the enclosed area, unless the panic and the poor preparation of the place prevent it,. What is it that makes it so difficult for people trapped in a fire to escape?



The smoke is composed of many elements: a) some solids, generally the so-called carbon black, fine coal laden with substances absorbed in its own molecular structure; (B) droplets of condensed water as a by-product of combustion, also charged with products solubilized therein (hydrochloric acid, acrolein, various aldehydes, acetic acid, etc.), which make them strongly mucosal irritants and c) gases, such as CO, CNH, acrolein, and many more .. It has the following effects: 1) it removes visibility 2) it irritates the eyes triggering the oculomotor reflex that closes the eyelid and does not allow to open it until leaving the zone loaded with irritants; 3) strongly irritate the mucous membranes of the respiratory tract, leading in extreme cases to generate generalized edema in the bronchi and lungs, blocking the trachea, dying by simple asphyxia; 4) superheated air produces this same effect on the trachea but, although the individual is saved, remains unprotected for life of the cilia  Which are the only protection of the lungs against infections. This effect is also produced by smoke irritants. All these effects described here and immediately show that the real danger for the evacuation of a fire are the irritants because they block the vision and the breathing, with which the individual is trapped and practically impossible to find the exit. What you kill next will depend on whether you arrive first, whether the gases or the fire

Our Research


This is the mechanics of the facts that we pose from our position as producers of escape masks. We did not want to keep this general information and decided to investigate the phenomenon of Smoke on our own. For which we project an apparatus that we call PIM® (Pirogenator for Material Investigation) this basically in a controlled heating area of ​​the materials under study, without combustion, a container where the contained smoke is kept, An element where the gases condense according to their physical properties and specific gas detectors. The outlet of this smoke is made through a nozzle where we can interleave materials with which we study the absorption of each element in isolation. After developing this equipment to achieve the management of smoke without leaks (6 months), we began a systematic evaluation of typical elements of interior decoration and office materials. And here surprises began to emerge.



We begin to be interested in a substance to which the literature on fire assigns little importance: acrolein, also called acrylic aldehyde, propenal, etc, to which they assign irritating characteristics but without assigning them dangerousness. All the materials we tested gave us abundant acrolein presence, as large as 20% of the gases produced. And looking among the literature of the chemical technique, we saw that the quantities with which this product is a serious problem, we were surprised to see that the amounts of acrolein that emitted small test samples, reached to render mortal an environment. (Wikipedia by Cromagnon: Polyurethane foam, on combustion, generates hydrogen cyanide (hydrogen cyanide), dioxide and carbon monoxide, while cellulose insulation produces carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide 23 The half-shadow caused dioxide and monoxide Of carbon and acrolein, 23 increasing the amount of smoke and dripping on the attendants causing burns.

We were told that amounts as small as 1ppm were sufficient to prevent vision and 3ppm were fatal in 5 minutes. And if the test that we did with a piece of cardboard of 10x10 cm, of 5 gr., Gave off 1 gr of acrolein, it was terrible the conclusion: our sample was capable of killing someone in an environment of 300 m3, that is 10x10x3 mt. We could not believe it, so we went to rehearse it. We saw that in a cold environment much of the acrolein condenses on the walls, so something disappears from the environment since its boiling point is 54 ° C. Our essay focused on measuring the concentration necessary to force the eyelids to close, which was less than 1 ppm, confirming the values ​​indicated in the bibliography.  Application of this information in the manufacture of Escape Masks This information was relevant to study the means of eliminating, in addition to all the substances already considered, the acrolein of the air aspirated in the Debra F4 mask. We sought the means of specifically eliminating the acrolein, which was achieved to the point of not being able to feel even the smell of it in a smoke heavily laden with the substance. This gave us more peace of mind about the performance of the DEBRA F4 exhaust mask, which cooled the air thanks to the filter material that is ceramic in nature with a specific high heat, it filters the smoke of all the substances present allowing breathing 15 minutes in The most dense of the fumes, to have the eyes open so as to be able to be guided in that semi-penumbra that makes the smoke and to resist flares that can affect it.