The bodies were later discovered in the burn room when the fire was suppressed. They all were wearing appropriate and complete personal protective Equipment and the two victims met the required State and department qualifications for the exercise.
The two Florida firefighters were trapped and overwhelmed by the fire progress—a flashover which led to smoke inhalation and thermal injuries. The flashover was induced by horizontal ventilation, which happened within a very short span of time after the opening of the window in the fire room. It must be noted that between the growth phase and the fully developed phase of a fire is what is known as flashover—occurs when all the combustible materials in the room is ignited, simultaneously reaching their ignition temperatures up to 1000°F (International Association of Fire Chiefs, “Fundamentals” 137).
While LT Mickel and FF Begg had their experience and qualifications as firefighters with their full protective clothing, there was a problem on the way the whole team handled the training exercise. They failed to anticipate the potential fire behavior in the burn room due to miscalculations. The Office of the State Fire Marshall and NIST concluded that a flashover has occurred due to excessive fuel loads. The fire analysis conducted by NIST revealed that “the gases were so fuel rich in the burn room that it took the fire seconds to mix with the oxygen and flashover” (NIOSH 4).
The fuel consisted of “five wooden pallets, a bale of straw, and a twin-size urethane foam,” which however been augmented by interior materials such as “carpeting, foam urethane padding, hollow core closet doors, wood molding, wall-mounted headboards, and painted gypsum board on the walls and ceiling mattress” resulting in flashover when the window was vented (NIOSH 3).
In fine, the energy level produced by these fuel loads was far beyond the design capabilities of the victims’ gears making it