SFPE Foundation Awards Chief Donald J. Burns Memorial Research Grant to Imperial College London

The Shard

Project will develop a new fire-fighting tool, called the Fire Navigator, which will forecast the spread of a fire inside a smart building using sensors and building information modeling technology

The SFPE Foundation announced that the 2015 Chief Donald J. Burns Memorial Research Grant has been awarded to Imperial College London’s Department of Mechanical Engineering. The $25,000 grant is named in memory of FDNY Assistant Chief Donald Burns, who died in the collapse of the World Trade Center Towers on September 11, 2001, while setting up his command post to direct the evacuation. The purpose of this grant is to help advance the integration of information modeling as a means of improving infrastructure safety and first responder preparedness.

The grant was awarded through a partnership with Bentley Systems, Inc., a global leader dedicated to providing comprehensive software solutions for sustaining infrastructure. It will go towards funding the development of a new fire-fighting tool, called the Fire Navigator, which will forecast the spread of a fire inside a smart building on the basis of Building Information Modelling (BIM) technology and already existing sensors.

According to Nahom Daniel, the MSc graduate student at Imperial College London who submitted the application for the grant, Fire Navigator will provide real-time building specific information such as the building’s structural framework and current occupancy information, as well as real-time and forecasted fire intensity and smoke distribution, to fire fighters to help inform evacuation prioritization. Fire Navigator will be implemented on Bentley BIM software using a case study of a real building design to show the performance of the system.

“We are deeply honored to accept this award dedicated to Chief Donald Burns,” said Dr. Guillermo Rein, a Senior Lecturer at Imperial College London. “Nahom is a top engineering student with a rigorous background on the fundamental sciences behind fire protection. His strong mathematical and computational skills will serve well to create the forecast algorithms and communicate them with Bentley Systems’ information management software. He understands very well the importance of delivering a solution to fire safety in buildings which is both innovative and practical. Because we are based on London, we have decided to focus our work on the case study of The Shard, the latest smart high-rise building built in UK. Moreover, we have secured the in-kind support of experts from Arup who will help Fire Navigator to be most relevant to the fire protection engineering community.”

“I know Don would be honored to have his name associated with the Fire Navigator project this grant will make possible. He was very interested in technology and fully appreciated the value of innovative methods of preventing fire hazards,” said Lew Reed, Bentley Systems vice president and Chief Burns’ brother-in-law. “Utilizing BIM technology together with existing sensors in smart buildings to aid first responders and reduce deaths and injuries caused by fires is a great way to honor Don’s commitment to safeguarding the firefighters he led.”

A presentation about Fire Navigator will be submitted for presentation to the 2016 SFPE North America Conference and to the official SFPE journal Fire Technology for possible publication.

Last year’s Chief Donald J. Burns Memorial Research Grant was awarded to Dr. Ofodike Ezekoye and Austin Anderson of the University of Texas Fire Research Group. The grant funded the creation of the Property Risk Optimization by Predictive Hazard Evaluation Tool (PROPHET), a framework designed to provide an informed risk analysis of a building using a combination of BIM software, fire models and statistical analysis. PROPHET offers industry professionals an unprecedented mechanism for incorporating fire analysis into their design and management considerations in a more meaningful manner. It also offers the potential to provide fire departments and first responders with a much better idea of the kinds of fires they might face within a given building, which could save lives. Ezekoye and Anderson presented the results of their research at the 2014 SFPE Conference & Expo.

“This grant provides an important opportunity to advance the science and technology that helps protect the men and women who share Chief Burns’ passion for serving the public in the honorable and selfless profession of firefighting,” said April Hammond-Berkol, Chair of the SFPE Educational & Scientific Foundation’s Board of Governors. “This grant incorporates the principles of fire protection engineering into building information management to provide tools that can be used by first responders.” For more information about the grant, visit the SFPE Foundation website.


New SFPE Engineering Standard on Calculation Methods to Predict the Thermal Performance of Structural and Fire Resistive Assemblies

 SFPE Engineering Standard on Calculation Methods to Predict the Thermal Performance of Structural and Fire Resistive Assemblies (SFPE S.02 2015)

SFPE has published a new standard: SFPE Engineering Standard on Calculation Methods to Predict the Thermal Performance of Structural and Fire Resistive Assemblies (SFPE S.02 2015).

The design of structural fire resistance requires three major steps: (1) determination of the thermal exposure to a structure resulting from a fire (2) determination of the temperature history within the structure, or portion thereof, and (3) determination of the structural response. This standard is limited to the second step in this process.

The standard provides requirements for the development and use of methods to predict the thermal response of structures using listed fire resistive assemblies to time dependent thermal boundary conditions imposed by fires. It provides requirements for calculation methods that provide time dependent temperature field information resulting from fire exposures required for engineered structural fire design (including structural systems and fire barriers). The Annex provides precisely calculated reference temperatures from 16 verification cases that represent a variety of problems that are relevant in fire safety engineering.

To purchase this standard, visit the SFPE bookstore.


SFPE Foundation Grant Supports WPI Textbook

sfpe_foundation_logo_color_faThe SFPE Foundation is pleased to announce a $5000 award to support development of a textbook entitled Fire Performance Analysis for Buildings, which will be published by John Wiley & Sons. Authored by Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) Professor Emeritus Robert W. Fitzgerald and Associate Professor Brian J. Meacham, the book provides a framework for evaluating the performance of buildings against fire scenarios which link the fire, active and passive fire defenses, people, building architecture, and site conditions.

The fire performance analyses produce a clear understanding of what to expect during a building fire, which in turn becomes the basis of risk characterizations for people, property, operational continuity, exposed buildings and enterprises, and the environment. The award will help support the participation of students and others to assist in the completion of fire performance analysis examples, supporting graphics and the final technical review.

“The Foundation is proud to be able to offer not only student grants, but grants to support novel research in in fire safety science and fire protection engineering. Fire Performance Analysis for Buildings promises to be a publication that aligns with the Foundation’s mission to advance the science and practice of fire protection engineering internationally by advocating and supporting engineering research, technology transfer and education,” said April Hammond-Berkol, Chair of the SFPE Foundation’s Board of Governors.

For more information about the SFPE Foundation or to make a donation, please visit Foundation.sfpe.org.


SFPE Standards-Making Committee on Calculating Fire Exposures to Structures is Seeking a New Chair

SFPE is in the process of updating its first standard (Standard on Calculating Fire Exposures to Structures). Performance-based design of structural fire resistance entails three steps:

  1. determination of the thermal boundary conditions to a structure resulting from a fire
  2. calculation of the thermal response of the structure to the fire exposure, and
  3. determination of the structural response of the structure.

This standard provides methods for the first of these steps.

If you are interested in chairing this committee, please submit the online Committee Application on the SFPE website before September 20, 2015. If you have any questions, please contact Chris Jelenewicz, P.E., FSFPE at Chris@sfpe.org.


SFPE at the NFPA Conference & Expo Next Week

SFPE will be exhibiting at the NFPA Conference & Expo next week in Chicago, IL, as well as sponsoring the Fire Protection Engineering Track.

SFPE staff will be at booth 253, sharing information about SFPE membership, products and other resources. We will have a preview copy of the much-anticipated new edition of the SFPE Handbook of Fire Protection Engineering, as well as information about pre-ordering. If you’re in the expo hall, please stop by to say hi and to enter to win a $100 gift certificate for the SFPE online store!

The SFPE-sponsored Fire Protection Engineering track includes these sessions:

Monday, Jun 22, 2015

Sprinkler Technology for Storage Protection – 9:30 AM to 10:30 AM
Speaker: James Golinveaux, Tyco Fire Protection Products
Location: S401bc
Content Type: Code/Standard Updates
This session will discuss the protection challenges inherent in various unique storage scenarios and ways in which those challenges might be met. Also addressed will be the codes and standards that dictate protection schemes and how recent updates will affect your business, including a comparison of storage design requirements in the 2013 edition of NFPA 13, Standard for the Installation of Sprinkler Systems, and the 2011 edition of FM 8-9.

Retrofitting Historic Properties with Fire Protection – 11:00 AM to 12:00 PM
Speaker: Lowell Black, GSA Fire Protection Branch
Speaker: Mariah McGunigle, GSA
Location: S401bc
Content Type: Best Practices
This session will provide details on how historic buildings have been successfully retrofit with fire protection systems, from the perspectives of both a historic preservation officer and a fire protection engineer. Details will include the on-the-ground methods used to preserve historic fabric while attaining new fire protection in historic structures. This case study will illustrate the importance and effectiveness of collaboration between fire protection engineers, AHJs, historic preservation officers, fire marshals, and building owners.

Tuesday, Jun 23, 2015

A Risk-Based Assessment of Tunnel Emergency Ventilation System Design – 8:00 AM to 9:00 AM
Speaker: John Devlin, Aon Fire Protection Engineering Corporation
Location: S401bc
Content Type: Case Study
This session will present a risk-based assessment method for evaluating alternative emergency ventilation schemes when retrofitting existing tunnel and underground stations in fixed-guideway transit and passenger rail systems.

Fire Exposure Impact on New Cantilevered Buildings – 9:30 AM to 10:30 AM
Speaker : Stephen Hill, Rolf Jensen & Associates, Inc.; Timothy Costello, Rolf Jensen & Associates, Inc.; Jared Mattern, Rolf Jensen & Associates, Inc.
Location: S401bc
Content Type: Current Events
In New York City, developers and architects have long built some of the tallest and most iconic high-rise buildings in the world. A recent, architecturally innovative trend takes a new approach. By obtaining air rights above adjacent, smaller buildings, new buildings are being designed to maximize their floor area through the use of cantilevered construction. Such construction poses challenges not anticipated by the New York City building code with respect to exterior fire exposure. This session looks at a prescriptive and performance-based design rationale, the development of fire exposure performance criteria and pass/fail thresholds, possible design fire scenarios, and the use of Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) modeling to evaluate the potential severe case exposure.

Water Mist System Fire Protection in Data Processing Equipment Rooms/Halls – 11:00 AM to 12:30 PM
Speaker: Jonathan Carpenter, FM Approvals; John LeBlanc, FM Global
Location: S401bc
Content Type: Research Results
A modern data center can exceed 300,000 ft2 and consist entirely of server racks where power loss is not acceptable and cooling needs are increasing exponentially. These changes create more challenging fire hazards, including higher cable density and novel cooling configurations. This session will define the challenges of applying water mist systems to the hazards associated with grouped cables and storage of commodities in data center processing equipment rooms. Water mist system protection schemes developed are from fire testing in a collaborative project between a commercial insurance company, a data center owner, and a water mist system equipment manufacturer.

Pre-Fire Planning in Sprinklered Warehouses – 3:30 PM to 4:30 PM
Speaker: Christina Francis, The Procter & Gamble CO
Location: S401bc
Content Type: A Look Ahead
A facility fire is always of concern–place that fire in a warehouse, seated 30 ft (9.1m) high in a double row rack, and the concern grows expotentially. This session will introduce a new incident command application used by P&G to determine fire activity and size within a sprinklered area without requiring immediate entry into the fire area. The engineering concepts of a sprinklered warehouse (control, suppression, out of control and extinguishment) will also be reviewed as they pertain to incident command. Some questions we will address: How long do we wait? When can we turn off the sprinklers? When can we enter the racking system? What to do when the fire growth exceeds the riser hydraulic demand or the fire pump demand?

Wednesday, Jun 24, 2015

High Expansion Foam for Department Of Defense Aircraft Hangars– 9:30 AM to 10:30 AM
Speaker: Samuel Dannaway, S. S. Dannaway Associates, Inc.
Location: S401bc
The presentation will discuss the requirements for high expansion foam systems for U.S. Air Force Hangars and present a case study of a recent high expansion system project.

Fire Protection Design in the Wildland-Urban Interface – 11:00 AM to 12:00 PM
Speaker: Daniel Gorham, National Fire Protection Association
Location: S401a
Content Type: Current Events
As the fire problem increases in areas of wildland-urban interface, so does the need for fire protection design in these areas. At-risk homeowners can improve their protection by implementing Firewise practices; as new communities are built, they can be designed using best practices and knowledge gained from current research. This session will discuss current knowledge and implementation of fire protection design on a new construction suburban community in the wildland-urban interface.

Design Strategies for Corrosion Control in Fire Sprinkler Systems – 11:00 AM to 12:00 PM
Speakers: Jeffrey Kochelek, Engineered Corrosion Solutions; Lucas Kirn, Engineered Corrosion Solutions
Location: S401bc
Content Type: Innovation
There are multiple options available to remediate corrosion related failures in fire sprinkler systems, but there are also several approaches that can be used during the design or commissioning phase of fire sprinkler systems that can significantly reduce corrosion activity. With all of the risks associated with corrosion related failures it makes sense to take preventative measures to stop corrosion before it leads to irreparable damage. This presentation serves to provide practical examples which follow the basic tenets of 1) minimize the trapped water present in dry pipe and pre-action systems and 2) minimize the trapped air present in wet pipe systems. Corrosion in fire sprinkler systems is one of the most popular and transformational issues to impact the fire sprinkler industry in many years. Changes in materials of construction (use of black steel over galvanized) to hydraulic calculations (removal of C factor advantage for galvanized pipe) to the use of nitrogen as a supervisory gas in dry systems in place of compressed air all represent a monumental shift in our industry. As the pioneer behind these technical discoveries, ECS seeks to educate the industry about all corrosion related issues. As the leading solutions provider of nitrogen inerting and corrosion monitoring technology for all water based fire sprinkler systems ECS is uniquely positioned to deliver this training.

If you’re attending, don’t forget to stop by booth 253 to say hi and enter the raffle to win a $100 gift certificate for the SFPE Online Store. If you don’t already follow SFPE on Twitter, follow us as we tweet photos from the show.


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Let SFPE Help You Prepare for the PE Exam

Online ed banner

The online PE exam prep course is an excellent tool to help prepare you for the 2015 Fire Protection Engineering PE Exam. The online PE exam prep course has been revised to meet the current NCEES exam specifications. You will be able to access 14 live, 1.5 hour sessions from anywhere. Each session is taught by a subject matter expert using interactive web conferencing technology, which will allow you the opportunity to ask questions as they arise throughout each session. This effective educational online prep course will help you organize and navigate through the reference materials and allow for maximum retention.

Register today and set yourself up for success!

Who Should Attend:

Anyone preparing for the PE Exam, or anyone needing a refresher including existing engineers, fire marshals and loss control specialists. Participants will come away with an understanding of the principles of fire protection engineering. Even if you are not taking the exam this year, but want to assess your readiness for a future exam, this online PE exam prep course will provide you with a fundamental understanding of the principles of fire protection engineering.

Topics Include:

  • Exam Preparation & Exam Taking Strategies
  • Fire Protection Analysis
  • Fire Protection Management
  • Human Behavior
  • Fire Dynamics
  • Fire Protection System
  • Smoke Management
  • Explosion Protection
  • Passive Building Systems

Enrollment Includes:

  • Participation in either the Tuesday or Thursday session
  • Two-hours of access to instructors outside class hours
  • Electronic copies of the online PE exam prep training slides

Educational Training Schedule:

14 live, 1.5 hour online sessions

  • July 7 – October 6  (Every Tuesday) from 2:30 – 4:00 PM EDT
  • July 9 – October 8 (Every Thursday) from 6:30 – 8:00 PM EDT

You have the flexibility to attend the Tuesday or Thursday session each week.

Exam Scheduled for October 30, 2015

Reading Requirements:


  • Non-Member Registration Fee – $1,995 USD*
  • SFPE Member Registration Fee – $1,395 USD

* Non-member registration includes a complimentary one-year membership to SFPE. Your membership includes discounts on future education and publications, free monthly member only innovation webinar series, FPE Magazine, Fire Technology Journal, and many other benefits that can be found here.


Professional Development Hours (PDHs) are only granted for the sessions in which you fully participate. Your participation is verified by being logged into the web conference technology during the session. The maximum number of PDHs that can be awarded for the 14 weeks is 21 PDHs, even if the sessions run long or you attend a Tuesday and Thursday session in a given week. Recordings of the sessions are available in case you miss a session or if you wish to listen to the session again, however no PDHs credit can be given to sessions that were missed and then made up by listening to the recording. These rules are necessary to maintain the integrity of the PDH granting process.

For questions please contact Melissa Franco at mfranco@sfpe.org or (301) 915-9724.


Follow the SFPE Europe Conference on Fire Safety Engineering on Twitter

The 1st SFPE Europe Conference on Fire Safety Engineering kicked off this morning in Copenhagen, Denmark with over 160 fire safety engineers in attendance.

You can learn more about the event and see a lineup of upcoming sessions and speakers on the conference website. If you couldn’t attend, you can still follow along on Twitter using the hashtag #SFPEEurope. Attendees are sharing lots of great photos and comments.

To make it easy to follow the Twitter activity around the conference, we’ve set up a few visual feeds of the hashtag. Prefer a more basic, linear display of tweets? Click here to display Twitterfall on your desktop and it will keep updating throughout the event.  Or if you prefer a more visual display, keep this one up on your screen and it will constantly refresh with the latest tweets and photos from the conference. Finally, if you want something really fancy, try this one–but be sure to click the icon in the top left corner to view the full-screen version without the ads.

We’re excited to see so much enthusiasm and great sharing at #SFPEEurope. If you couldn’t attend this conference, you can still mark your calendar for the 2014 SFPE Conference & Expo, November 8-13 in Philadelphia, PA. More details and registration information will be posted soon on the SFPE website.



New SFPE Digital Publication: SFPE Europe

Issue 1 screenshot

SFPE has launched a new digital magazine, SFPE Europe. The mission of SFPE Europe is to highlight the practice of fire protection engineering and fire safety engineering in Europe and to showcase current research being done in the field.

You can view the first issue here, and subscribe to receive future issues via email.

The launch of SFPE Europe coincides with the inaugural SFPE Europe Conference on Fire Safety Engineering being held from 4-5 June 2015 in Copenhagen, Denmark. Watch our Twitter stream for tweets and photos from the conference, and if you’re attending, please use the hashtag #SFPEEurope to share yours.


SFPE Foundation Awards First Annual Dr. Guylène Proulx, OC Scholarship to Robert Brown

sfpe_foundation_logo_color_faThe SFPE Foundation announced that the first annual Dr. Guylène Proulx, OC Scholarship has been awarded to Robert Brown, a PhD candidate at University of Greenwich, London, UK. This award was established in 2014 in honor of Dr. Guylène Proulx, an outstanding researcher in human factors and human behavior related to fire, and a passionate advocate for fire safety awareness. Her enduring legacy is the body of her research work, as well as the future research this annual grant will enable.

The grant will go towards funding Mr. Brown’s PhD project entitled “Collection, Analysis and Implementation of Human Performance Data from Planned Assembly Trials on Passenger Ships at Sea.” Despite continual improvements in ship structural design, operational practices, onboard technology and regulations, accidents involving capsize, sinking or fire still occur, resulting in the need to evacuate passenger ships. When such evacuations are necessary, the results are often devastating, with loss of life, sometimes numbering in the hundreds. The objectives of this research project were to plan and conduct semi-unannounced assembly exercises onboard large passenger ships, to collect data on passenger performance during the exercises in order to quantify response time and assembly time, to use the datasets collected to characterize the nature of passenger response times on the different ships and in different areas onboard, and to develop a method for validating evacuation models and demonstrate the impact of the new response time distributions on total assembly time in evacuation simulations.

The research undertaken in this project is novel both in the way that datasets have been collected and the knowledge gaps that have been addressed by the results. This dataset represents the largest, most comprehensive response time dataset ever collected on land or sea. The movement data collected has produced two comprehensive validation datasets for ship evacuation models, the only ship evacuation model validation sets currently available. Analysis of the data has provided important new information regarding the nature of passenger response to alarms and has shown that complex experiments can be planned successfully and executed safely to characterize the individual paths passengers take during the assembly process onboard large passenger ships. A paper coauthored by Mr. Brown and other members of the Fire Safety Engineering Group at University of Greenwich team, describing one of the datasets collected on the project, won the Royal Institution of Naval Architects (RINA) Medal of Distinction in 2014.

Edwin Galea, CAA professor in Mathematical Modelling and Director of the Fire Safety Engineering Group at University of Greenwich, is supervising this research project. The results of the study will be presented at a future SFPE conference.

“Rob and the project SAFEGUARD team are deeply honored by this award. The SAFEGUARD project involved understanding and quantifying human behavior in emergency situations and using that knowledge to improve life safety. Rob Brown’s significant contributions to the development of a novel automatic person tracking system, based on infrared technology, enabled the collection of large human performance datasets, which would have been impractical using conventional methods,” said Professor Galea.

“Dr. Guylène Proulx was an inspiration to us all, and we can think of no better tribute to her legacy than making the world a safer place in her name. To this end, the unique data produced by SAFEGUARD has been submitted to the International Maritime Organization (IMO) for consideration in updating international regulations of large passenger ship evacuation safety.”

“Guylène Proulx was considered by all who knew her to be one of the preeminent researchers in the field of human behavior in emergencies. This project honors her legacy by building on Professor Galea’s SAFEGUARD passenger evacuation research and holds the potential to save lives,” said April Hammond-Berkol, Chair of the SFPE Foundation’s Board of Governors. For more information about the grant or to make a donation to the foundation, visit the SFPE Foundation website.



SFPE Member Webinar: Post-Earthquake Fire Performance of Buildings


On Monday, May 18, from 5:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m EDT, SFPE will hold a members-only Innovation Series webinar on Post-Earthquake Fire Performance of Buildings. The webinar will be presented byBrian Meacham, Ph.D., P.E., CEng, FIFireE, FSFPE, Associate Professor, Worcester Polytechnic Institute. Participants will receive 1 professional development hour (PDH).

History has shown that post-earthquake fire can be devastating, resulting in more impact than the earthquake itself. Until recently, however, the investigation of post-earthquake fire performance of buildings has largely been ignored. Given that earthquake engineers are not required to explicitly consider post-earthquake fire, and fire protection engineers are not required to explicitly assume earthquake damage as an initial condition for fire performance analysis, this is a significant concern.

In order to obtain a better understanding of post-earthquake fire performance of buildings, and how that information could be integrated into a risk-informed performance-based approach to fire safety design of buildings, a full-scale, five-story reinforced concrete building specimen was erected on the Large Outdoor High Performance Shake Table (LHPOST) at the University of California, San Diego, outfitted with various nonstructural components and systems (NCSs), and subjected to a series of earthquake motions and compartment-scale fires.

Outcomes of the experiments illustrate the extent of damage to building fire safety systems, including compartment barriers, façade systems, egress systems and active fire protection systems. Post experiment analysis illustrates how such damage could impact occupant life safety and emergency response during fires in earthquake-damaged buildings, and how the understanding of expected earthquake damage could be integrated into a risk-informed performance-based approach to building fire safety design in earthquake prone areas. An overview of the experimental program, outcomes from the test series, and implications for building fire performance design will be presented.

Innovation Series webinars are an exclusive series of online technical sessions focused on helping SFPE members strengthen professional skills and stay on top of industry trends. Professional expert instructors lead the webinars, highlighting the latest technical developments in the field.

Members will receive an email with registration information for the webinar. Not a member yet but interested in joining to take advantage of great benefits like the Innovation Series webinars, among many others? Visit the SFPE website to learn more and join today.