It’s a great pleasure and honor to publish the special issue on “Fire and Disaster Prevention Technologies” in the Journal of Disaster Research. All of its 7 papers have been peer-reviewed. We would like to extend our sincere thanks to the contributors and reviewers involved in producing these articles, especially to Dr. Masafumi Hosokawa, Chief, Planning for Community-Based Cooperation National Research Institute of Fire and Disaster, Fire and Disaster Management Agency Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications for his great support.
The Research and Development center of Fire and Environmental Safety (RDFES) was established in April 2008 as a research institute within the Faculty of Environmental Engineering, the University of Kitakyushu. The RDFES is the first academic institute in Japan to contribute to environmental engineering and firefighting technology for social safety, and focuses on the environmental researches to overcome the worldwide serious firefighting problem, for example huge forest fires, and consequently contributes to create the epoch-making products for the environmental conservation and the safety of citizens.
RDFES has become well known among firefighting professionals for its development of an “Environmentally friendly soap-based firefighting agent,” as well as new equipment that maximizes the effectiveness of the agent. This is just one example of successful collaboration between RDFES, the Kitakyushu City Fire and Disaster Management Department, a local soap company, and major firefighting enterprises in Japan.
Today, RDFES is entering a new research area involving local communities and governments, which aims to mitigate and minimize the risk of fire and natural disasters. Researchers are engaged not only in the development of hardware but also in the creation of an organized social movement that could ensure more effective use of the hardware.
We hope that the collaboration among industry, academia, and government will be more useful and powerful towards solving serious problems on “fire and environmental safety” through the mediation of this special issue. And reaching out to local communities reflects the center’s position to always welcome new partners to join our important and exciting research activities.
Fire departments are expected to respond quickly and effectively to disasters by extinguishing fires and rescuing those in harm’s way, for example. They are also required to prevent fires and disasters by enforcing fire-prevention measures at hotels and care facilities and to monitor safety measures in facilities storing hazardous materials. Concerns have arisen that destructive disasters may occur due to environmental changes in local communities or due to the Tokyo Metropolitan earthquake or Nankai Trough earthquake. To ensure that fire departments use their firefighters, materials and equipment effectively to prevent or control fires and reduce damage of disasters, research and development (R&D) on fire safety and disaster preparedness must be conducted actively and resulting findings must be applied in advanced fire safety and disaster preparedness activities.
Fire safety R&D in Japan is undertaken by the National Research Institute of Fire and Disaster, which is the research organ of the Fire and Disaster Management Agency. Here R&D is being conducted on safety measures for facilities storing hazardous materials, fire-fighting robot technology, and fire extinguishing techniques. Fire departments in major cities also study firefighting operations and advanced materials and equipment. Although the number of institutions directly conducting fire safety R&D is limited and allotted research and development budget is extremely small. Private-sector R&D in fire safety unfortunately cannot be described as vigorous because it focuses on equipment used by fire department personnel and fire-safety facilities required by law, such as fire engines and rescue materials and equipment, fire sensors, fire extinguishing systems, etc., whose market is limited. To conduct innovative fire extinguishing R&D on equipment that could dramatically improve fire-fighting efficiency, it is important to inform research institutions and private firms of the issues and needs in fire safety rather than to make efforts solely among organizations involved in fire safety and to conduct research by engaging a wide range of researchers from the pure sciences in practical technologies.
The Fire and Disaster Management Agency of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications set up a competitive research funding effort in fiscal 2003 called Promoting Program for Scientific Fire and Disaster Prevention Technologies (Competitive Research Funding Program) to promote R&D based on the collaboration of industry, academia, and the national government. This competitive research program solicits research proposals for promoting advances in fire safety and disaster preparedness science and technology and achieving safe and secure society. It involves researchers in industry, academia, and government and provides funding for proposals considered worth promoting. Some 104 studies had been completed under this program by fiscal 2014. The Kitakyushu municipal fire department, for instance, proposed developing a fire extinguishing composition able to extinguish fires using only a small amount of water. After building a system for collaboration with the University of Kitakyushu and local industries, they developed such a composition based on a natural surfactant whose use has greatly reduced the environmental load and whose performance meets the needs of fire-fighting operations conducted by fire department personnel in general fires. The team earned the Minister of Internal Affairs and Communications Award in the Fifth Merit Awards for Industry/Academia/Government Collaboration in fiscal 2007.
In publishing the special issue on Fire and Disaster Prevention Technologies edited by Prof. Tomonori Kawano, Prof. Kazuya Uezu, and Prof. Takaaki Kato of the Research and Development Center of Fire and Environmental Safety, the University of Kitakyushu, it is shown that …
Wooden cultural properties are exposed to risks such as forest fires and arson, due to natural disasters and social change. To protect these heritage sites from such risks, we focused on fire protection facilities and systems, fire-related accidents, and arson affecting wooden cultural heritage sites in Kyoto and Hyogo. A questionnaire was filled out by heritage site affiliates, and responses and investigated materials were analyzed. We found that Kyoto and Hyogo wooden cultural heritage sites were well equipped with fire protection facilities and equipment. Specifically, automatic fire protection systems linked the general public, government-related institutes and local governments to improve facilities usage. These systems played a crucial cultural site monitoring role. Increasing public interest in these cultural heritage sites has led to a more engaging and prompt response by the small number of neighboring parties and firefighters. To improve fire and disaster prevention functionality effectively, it is recommended that sites establish automatic fire protection systems and cooperate with the general public, local institutions, and government agencies.
In this report, we describe a new concept for the development of quartz crystal microbalance (QCM) fire prevention sensors modified with nano-assembled thin films. The first example is the fabrication of QCM gas sensors based on alternate adsorption of TiO2 and poly(acrylic acid) (PAA) for the sensitive detection of amine odors. The QCM sensors showed a linear response to ammonia at concentrations of 0.3–15 ppm, depending on the deposition cycle of the alternate TiO2/PAA layers. Ammonia binding is based on acid–base interaction with the free carboxylic acid groups of PAA, and the limit of detection of the 20-cycle TiO2/PAA400 film under exposure to ammonia was estimated to be 0.1 ppm. The second example, monitoring of relative humidity, used porphyrin-based nano-assembled thin films prepared by a layer-by-layer approach on QCM resonators. These films were also used to detect significant environmental changes (due to smoke, humidity, or hazardous material release), and the results revealed that QCM-based real-environment monitoring devices can be implemented.
A variety of ciliated and flagellated protozoan species have been used as bio-indicators of the eco-toxic impacts of polluting chemicals, especially in aquatic environments such as rivers, ponds, lakes, and wetlands. To date, both the short-term and long-term impacts of fire-fighting foams (FFFs) in aquatic (freshwater environment) and semi-aquatic (wetland) ecosystems have been assessed in laboratory-scale model assays and in biotope-based assays. Little attention has been given to the fact that water qualities, such as hardness, drastically alter the toxic actions of various chemicals against living aquatic organisms including fishes, algae, and other microbes, suggesting that the laboratory water often employed in toxicity assays for fishes and microorganisms might not reflect the actual impact of chemicals in the ecosystem. Therefore, for examining the toxicity of certain chemicals (chiefly detergent-based and soap-based FFFs) in aquatic organisms, we have previously proposed that a series of simple eco-toxicity tests using natural waters sampled from the natural organism’s habitats or blends of mineralcontaining water preparations mimicking the natural habitat waters be used in addition to tests in standard laboratory waters. Based on the knowledge of the eco-toxicity of FFFs obtained through past studies using model aquatic organisms such as green paramecia (Paramecium bursaria), we conducted a study aiming to uncover the toxic mechanism of sodium alkyl sulfonates, a series of synthetic detergents known as SAS, using a strain of P. bursaria originally sampled from a river, both in laboratory water and habitat river water (river water from where P. bursaria was collected; HRW). Here, we employed P. bursaria maintained in both a natural HRW-based assay medium and an ultrapure water-based low-mineral standard culturing medium for comparing the apparent toxicity of SAS. Data strongly suggested that the toxicities of most SAS detergents (alkyl chains shorter than 9 carbons or longer than 14 carbons) are minimized in the mineral-rich HRW compared to the commonly used UPW-based low-mineral ciliateculturing conditions. The toxicity of SAS members with moderate chain lengths, such as sodium dodecan sulfonate, tended to be minimized with elevated mineral content. A similar tendency was also observed in medaka fish, a tiny model fish.
We have developed new firefighting hoses and compared them to conventional hoses, measuring their pressure loss when water alone or mixed water passed through. As a result, it is found that the new hoses have lower pressure loss than conventional hoses, and fewer kinks and they are more durable.
We have developed a new type of hose nozzle, which uses either water or compressed air foam (CAF), as a more efficient fire-fighting strategy. In this paper, a description of the measured spray range and foam expansion of both the prototype nozzle and conventional nozzles is given. The results show that the spray range of the prototype nozzle is equal or superior to that of conventional nozzles. The foam expansion capability of the prototype nozzle is far superior to that of existing nozzles. From these results, it was confirmed that the new type of hose nozzle suggested in this paper will be an effective addition to existing firefighting equipment, resulting in a more efficient firefighting strategy.
This study investigates factors in gaps between perceived and actual straight-line distance to Japan’s Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant (KKNPP). The distance to areas in the official accident response plan is defined using straight lines from the NPP, making it important to determine whether area residents understand these distances correctly. Adults living in the two municipalities cohosting the NPP were surveyed randomly in 2005, 2010 and 2011. In this study, we consider three groups of factors – geographical features, personal attributes, and experience in events highlighting nuclear safety. The Niigata-ken Chuetsu-oki earthquake hit the NPP between the first and second of these three surveys, and the Tohoku earthquake and the March 2011 Fukushima nuclear accident occurred between the second and the third surveys. Before the Fukushima accident, overestimations of straight-line distance were common among respondents, and geographical features such as lack of NPP visibility aggravated bias between actual and perceived distance. After the Fukushima accident, underestimation of the distance became common and personal attributes became more influential as the factor of the perceived-actual distance gap.
Twenty years ago, a catastrophic earthquake hit the second largest economy in Japan, causing damages to a considerable number of houses, buildings, lifelines, and infrastructure. The total damage was estimated to be around 2% of the Japanese GDP at that time. Reconstruction plans were set and had progressed since then. The progress of recovery and reconstruction has been studied from various angles. With regard to economic recovery, a series of studies pointed out that after a short period of reconstruction-boom, the Hyogo Prefecture and the City of Kobe have been showing a declining trend. Under the 10-year reconstruction plans, the damaged region went through a recovery and rebuilding process; nevertheless, these plans could not bring back the damaged economy to the pre-event growth trend. The reconstruction plans were intended not to restore the pre-event conditions but to maintain the long-range development plans initiated before the event. Further, this decision might have contributed to the downturns in economic recovery in the middle-run; however, it is expected that it would lead the economy toward sustained growth in the long-run.
One of the main failure mechanisms of pressurized water reactors (PWR) is primary water stress corrosion cracking (PWSCC), which occurs in alloy 600 (75Ni-15Cr-9Fe) and weld metals such as alloy 182 (70Ni-14Cr-9Fe), and alloy 82 (73Ni-19Cr-2Fe). Corrosion cracking is due, for example, in reactor nozzles welded dissimilarly with alloys 182/82 between ASTM A-508 G3 steel and AISI316L stainless steel. Corrosion cracks can cause problems reducing nuclear installations safety and reliability. Hydrogen dissolved into primary water to prevent radiolysis, also may enhance PWSCC growth. This article begins from a study by Lima et al. (2011) based on experimental data from the CDTN-Brazilian Nuclear Technology Development Center, and related to a slow strain rate test (SSRT). This was prepared and used for testing welds in the laboratory, similar to the dissimilar weld in pressurizer relief nozzles operating at the Brazilian Angra Unit 1 nuclear power plant. It was simulated for tests, primary water at 325°C and 12.5 MPa containing four levels of dissolved hydrogen. Our objective in this article is to clarify, and discuss adequate modeling based on the SSRT experimental results, and to compare them with those from another database and modeling, of the PWSCC growth rate based on levels of dissolved hydrogen.
Seismic isolation systems have been recognized for their effectiveness in protecting building and their contents. Despite costly technology, seismic isolation has been used in several countries, including Japan. Base-isolated building response could be substantially reduced, which is very favorable compared to conventional fixed-base buildings. Several studies have focused on base-isolated building response and the effects of isolation properties, for example, but none has talked about performance in ways that nonengineers such as building owners could understand. The slight damage from an earthquake may protect a building’s structural integrity, but it may also damage nonstructural components and disrupt ongoing building functionality CF. The PEER methodology framework used to consider CF damage to nonstructural components uses a nonstructural component fragility curve, taking into account building location, and produces results in the form of a return period, in years, indicating how long the building may be expected to exceed that specified damage state. Several building structures are investigated and discussed.
When disasters strike, it is important to quickly collect and analyze disaster-related information immediately after the event. We have suggested ZigBee and geographic information systems (GIS) technologies to resolve these problems and provide an effective communications system. In this paper, a method for the rapid setup of short-range wireless networks infrastructure, which estimates the radio wave propagation and optimizes the positions of transmitters is proposed. Our estimation method is experimentally verified, and it combines ray-tracing with preliminarily obtained statistical attenuation information, which allows us to consider different types of the land and its elevation. Thus, we can determine the effective ranges for radio communication for each potential location in the actual environment. This information is then used in our optimization procedure to reduce the number of transmitters needed to establish connections.
The use of the earthquake early warning system (EEWS), one of the most useful emergency response tools, requires that the accuracy of real-time ground motion prediction (GMP) be enhanced. This requires that waveform information at observation points along earthquake wave propagation paths (hereafter, front-site waveform information) be used effectively. To enhance the combined reliability of different systems, such as on-site and local/regional warning, we present a GMP method using front-site waveform information by applying a relevant vector machine (RVM). We present methodology and application examples for a case study estimating peak ground acceleration (PGA) and peak ground velocity (PGV) for earthquakes in the Miyagi-Ken Oki subduction zone. With no knowledge of source information, front site waveforms have been used to predict ground motion at target sites. Five input variables – earthquake PGA, PGD, pulse rise time, average period and the Vpmax/Apmax ratio – have been used for the first 4 to 6 seconds of P-waves in training a regression model. We found that RVM is a useful tool for the prediction of peak ground motion.
When individuals estimate something numerically, their estimation tends to be close to a value perceived beforehand, called an anchor. This tendency is called “the anchoring effect.” We introduce three hypotheses – the numeric priming hypothesis, the semantic priming hypothesis, and the magnitude priming hypothesis – that explain the anchoring effect. We apply them to participants’ estimation of the number of sufferers in order to examine which model explains the anchoring effect best. Experimental results support the numeric priming hypothesis, indicating that the anchoring effect occurs even when no semantic relatedness exists between the number presented as the prime and the successive numerical estimation. Implications for disaster risk communication are discussed based on the results we obtained.
In the four years since the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami, the number of local elderly persons who live alone in temporary housing has increased. In fact, elderly persons are willing to remain in temporary housing, isolating themselves from family members to join comforting community. This research focuses on why these elderly persons have chosen to isolate themselves.