In firefighting, the worst flames are the ones you don’t see coming. Amid the chaos of a burning building, it is difficult to notice the signs of impending flashover — a deadly fire phenomenon wherein nearly all combustible items in a room ignite suddenly. But new research suggests that artificial intelligence (AI) could provide first responders with a much-needed heads-up.
Researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, and other institutions have developed a Flashover Prediction Neural Network (FlashNet) model to forecast the lethal events precious seconds before they erupt. In a new study published in Engineering Applications of Artificial Intelligence, FlashNet boasted an accuracy of up to 92.1% across more than a dozen common residential floorplans in the US and came out on top when going head-to-head with other AI-based flashover predicting programs.