Obituary: Sven Erik Magnusson

Professor Emeritus Sven Erik Magnusson passed away on December 15 2014, leaving family, friends and colleagues in sorrow and grief. Professor Magnusson has been invaluable in the development of both research and education in fire science, fire safety engineering and risk management and societal safety at Lund University.


In the fire science world he will be remembered as a pioneer and visionary in the area of parametric fires and for the introduction of risk management for fire safety design. Related to fire engineering education he will be remembered as one of the authors of the first curriculum for fire safety engineering published in the Fire Safety Journal in 1995.  Together with the late Prof. em. Ove Petterson he was one of the driving forces during the start-up of the IAFSS (International Association of Fire Safety Science). He was a principal figure in the start-up of the MSc program in Risk Management and Safety Engineering at Lund University and in initiating and leading Lund University Centre for Risk Assessment and Management (LUCRAM) together with Prof. Roland Akselsson.

Prof. Sven Erik Magnusson was born on January 3rd 1938 and he grew up near Lönsboda, in the northeast part of Skåne. He started his university career as PhD student with Prof. Ove Pettersson and defended his PhD thesis in a joint session with Prof. em. Sven Thelandersson. Together they had 3 opponents for the discussion forum. The work of Magnusson and Thelandersson was later used as the basis for parametric fires in the Eurocodes and was considered a pioneering work. He was also active as a researcher in the area of fire development where he was involved in a number of research projects dealing with early room fires in cooperation with SP in Borås. In the start up phase of standardisation of the room corner test, he was chairman of the working group on ISO TC92 SC1.  After the retirement of Prof. Ove Petterson, he was appointed professor at the Department of Fire Safety Engineering. In the beginning of his academic career he became heavily involved in the development of courses for the BSc program in fire protection engineering, together with Robert Jönsson and the staff at the department of fire safety engineering.

In the mid-nineties the focus of his research moved to the area of risk management and societal safety. He started activities such as LUCRAM and introduced multidisciplinary research in the department. Around the same time, he initiated and led the development of the MSc program in Risk Management and Safety Engineering. Furthermore, he led numerous research activities in this area that generated continuous growth of risk-related research at the university. At the end of his career, he always supported the younger generation by leading the development of larger research projects and serving as a mentor for many of the PhD students in risk research.

After his retirement, he still kept close links with the late Prof. Philip Thomas, also a founding member of the IAFSS, and felt a deep sorrow when Philip passed away earlier in 2014.

In addition to being a distinguished academic, Sven Erik was very interested in society and was keen on keeping up with current affairs as well as understanding history. His cultural interests included theatre and classical music, and he was keen on exercising not only the mind but also the body, mainly through spinning classes. He was very passionate about spending time in his country house with his closest family, his beloved wife Lisbeth, their children and grandchildren, and friends.

We will remember Sven Erik as a great researcher as well as a warm and caring person whom many of us have to thank for very much today. Many friends and colleagues from across the world will sadly miss Sven Erik.

Signed: Marcus Abrahamson and Patrick van Hees, with help from Lisbeth, Sven Eriks’ wife