A half world away, the New York Fire Department is about to begin an interesting experiment: they will fill 20 vacant houses with contemporary, plastic-based furniture, and then burn them down to test which techniques work best in putting out the flames.
Here's the reason, from the New York Times:
Plastic fillings in sofas and mattresses burn much faster than older fillings like cotton, helping to transform the behavior of house fires in the last few decades, firefighters and engineers say.
With more plastic in homes, residential fires are now likely to use up all the oxygen in a room before they consume all flammable materials. The resulting smoky, oxygen-deprived fires appear to be going out. But they are actually waiting for an inrush of fresh air, which can come as firefighters cut through roofs and break windows.
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