Notice of Plans for IAFSS General Meeting

Dear IAFSS Member,

I trust you are doing well, and are looking forward to participating in the first-ever virtual IAFSS International Symposium on Fire Safety Science, to be held 26-30 April 2021 (with workshops the week before!).  This is the IAFSS flagship event, and we look forward to you joining us for a week of highly informative presentations and interactions with your peers around the world.

As you know, associated with the Symposium is the General Meeting of the Association. In this time of COVID-19, we need to hold this virtually as well.  However, our Rules of the Association do not specifically allow for virtual meetings, so we are asking for your flexibility and participation in holding the 2021 General Meeting virtually in two parts – Part 1 to be 24 March, and Part 2 to be 30 April.

The rationale for holding the meetings in two parts is as follows.  First, the Rules do not specifically allow for virtual meetings or electronic (virtual) voting at meetings.  While the Committee has the ability to take action not specifically identified in the Rules (Article 14 (viii)), it does not have the authority to formalize a Rule change without vote of the membership.  Second, as per the Rules, the General Meeting is used to announce the new Committee (members of the new Committee have been selected through elections in Fall 2020).  It is necessary to both (a) allow virtual General Meetings and voting, and (2) announce the new Committee to allow for the change in leadership, in a reasonable and transparent manner.

To address this, Part 1 of the General Meeting is to be rather brief, having just four primary actions: (1) introduction of the new Committee, (2) vote on a proposed amendment to the Rules to allow for virtual / hybrid General Meetings, (3) vote on a proposed amendment to the Rules to allow virtual voting at the virtual General Meeting, and (4) vote on timing for the General Meeting, Part 2 (the choice of the timing of a meeting is difficult because of our geographical diversity). This will allow membership to confirm, if they so choose, that we can operate in this manner.  This meeting will be held on 24 March 2021The meeting platform will be Zoom.  The timing of the meeting is 06:00 PDT (west coast USA), selected to align with preferred time slots already identified by the Symposium organizers.  

Given that we are simply seeking approval of the proposed amendments, it is planned to have a simple ‘approve / disapprove’ vote on these items.  We appreciate that ideally, we need to find a mechanism that allows for discussion on proposed amendments (and other items). We expect to have this in place for Part 2 of the General Meeting, which is why all other actions are moved to that part of the meeting. Also, we appreciate that the timing of the General Meeting Part 1 is not good for the Asia-Oceania region. We apologize. However, there is no single one- or two-hour time period that works well across all time zones, so we have limited options. For this reason, we will have a vote during the General Meeting, Part 1, on the timing for the General Meeting, Part 2, with the aim to pick a time that is more convenient to our members who are negatively affected by the choice of the timing of the General Meeting, Part 1. In addition, Article 5 of the Rules of the Association states in part that “A Member whose subscription is paid up to date and current shall be entitled to… attend whether in person or by proxy and vote at all meetings of the Members of the Association.”  To provide a mechanism for those unable to attend Part 1 of the General Meeting on 24 March, they have the option to provide their vote via proxy in writing (email acceptable) to the Honorary Secretary no later than 23 March.

Please click here to download the draft Agenda for Part 1 of the General Meeting.  The proposed amendments to the Rules, to facilitate holding virtual General Meetings and voting there at, are also included as Annex 1. We provide this in advance for your review and consideration.  The draft agenda for the General Meeting, Part 2, is included as Annex 2.

As a member, your participation in General Meetings and your vote on issues of importance to the Association, such as amendments to the Rules, is critically important.  We ask that all who can attend and participate do so.  For those unable to attend, and who would like to exercise their right to vote on the amendments, you are asked to provide your proxy vote to the Honorary Secretary no later than 23 March. Also, we appreciate that options for voting and discussion for Part 1 of the General Meeting will be limited, and that this cannot be the norm. We ask that you accept this limitation for this meeting, while we work out a more flexible and participative arrangement for Part 2 of the General Meeting. However, if you have questions for clarification, or comments on what has been proposed, please let me know. Thank you.

Respectfully submitted,

Brian Meacham
IAFSS Honorary Secretary