Sample Entries: Sample 7


Photo of TeamSample 7

Pressure Blowout Smoke Diverter

Coach: Joan Hurd
Community: Hatfield, Pennsylvania
Status Achieved: Semifinalist

Section 1:

The Issue Smoke inhalation is a frequent cause of death or serious injury in house fires, particularly those that occur at night, when the occupants of a home are usually asleep and unaware of the life-threatening situation.

Section 2: Research

Using newspapers, a book (The Essentials of Firefighting, 4th ed.), a video ("Fire Power," produced by the National Fire Protection Association) and the Internet, the team learned about the devastating effects of smoke inhalation and ways it can be avoided. The students' research led them to the concept of positive-pressure ventilation, and from that concept, the team developed an idea for a ventilation system that could push smoke out of a room and bring in fresh air in the event of a fire. Before building a prototype, the team consulted with a fire training coordinator from the county fire academy and a safety engineer, both of whom supported the idea.

Section 3: Testing

The team built a small model house out of Plexiglas. The house consisted of two rooms with a hallway between them. Each room had a window and a door. In the window of one of the rooms, the team installed a fan, which could be activated by a smoke detector, located in the hallway. Burning incense, also located in the hallway, was used as a smoke source. During several trials, with the rooms' doors and windows opened and closed in different combinations, the fan reacted to the smoke detector and increased the air pressure in the room. Because the air pressure in the room was greater than that in the hallway, the smoke could not enter the room with the fan. Instead, it escaped into the room without the fan.

Section 4: The Solution

Many lives could be saved by the use of a window fan, designed to activate at the earliest detection of smoke, that employs positive-pressure ventilation to divert smoke out and pump fresh air in to a room in a burning building. The team's goal was to patent, manufacture and market such a device to building contractors and the general public.

Visual Presentation:

VHS videotape.