Philip Thomas Medal of Excellence

Award, Eligibility and its Privileges

Philip Thomas Medal of Excellence is awarded to the author(s) of the best paper presented at a previous IAFSS Symposium. The award consists of a silver medal and a plaque for each author. The medal is cast from the reverse of a silver tetradrachma minted in Athens in 400 BC, at the time of Socrates and Plato. The central images are an olive spring, symbolising peace, and an owl, symbolizing wisdom. The international synergism of our Association is reflected in this Athenian design, suspended from a ribbon of Gosen white silk, presented in a medal box from the San Francisco mint.

Nomination Process

There is no nomination process, as the Award recognises the best paper presented at the previous Symposium.

Selection Considerations

The five criteria used to identify the best paper are:

  • Pertinence: Is the paper pertinent to the aims of the Association? Does it epitomise “a forum dedicated to all aspects of fire research and their application to solving problems presented by destructive fire”?
  • Utility: Are the results useful? Will this work save lives? Will it enhance fire service efforts? Will it lead to new areas of research? Will it be incorporated into standards and codes?
  • Significance: Does it add significantly to our knowledge? Are there new results? Are they both accurate and important?
  • Rationality: Does the paper link experiments and theory? Have the results been both verified and explained? Does the work display wisdom, logic and intellectual insight?
  • Eloquence: Is the paper well written? Is there a worthwhile story which is described in a concise yet readable manner?

Selection Body

The award recipients will be selected by the IAFSS Awards Committee in coordination with the Chair of the FORUM.

Dr. Phillip H. Thomas

Dr Thomas worked in fire safety research at the Fire Research Station (subsequently part of the Building Research Establishment) for over thirty years, from the early 1950s to the mid 1980s. In that time he published numerous Fire Research Notes and over thirty journal papers on fire phenomena, many of which are still regularly cited today. After retiring from the Fire Research Station in 1986 he remained active in fire research and continued to publish in Fire Safety Journal and elsewhere. The importance of his contributions to the field cannot be overstated. It was once said that he worked on almost every problem related to fire from spontaneous ignition, to wildland fires and from statistical analyses to fire modelling. He was a convener of TC 92 in ISO and W14 for the CIB. He was the founding Chair of IAFSS. He worked at a time when journal publications were not so numerous, but his writing mostly contained in Fire Research Notes show his prolific nature and his boundless interests. The new researcher to fire would be lacking not to have read the works of P H Thomas.

Past Recipients

The Medal was first awarded at the 2nd IAFSS Symposium in Tokyo in 1988. Its past recipients, titles of their papers, and Symposia at which the Awards were presented, are listed below

  • 1988:Y Hasemi, “Thermal Modeling of Upward Flame Spread” (2nd Symposium, Tokyo)
  • 1991: H Baum and B McCaffrey, “Fire Induced Flow Field – Theory and Experiment” (3rd Symposium, Edinburgh)
  • 1994: A Atreya and M Abu-Zaid was entitled “Effect of Environmental Variables on Piloted Ignition (4th Symposium, Ottawa)
  • 1997: B Dlugogorski, J Mawhinney and V Duc, “The Measurement of Heat Release Rate by Oxygen Consumption Calorimetry in Fires” (5th Symposium, Melbourne)
  • 1999: R Rehm, K McGrattan, H Baum and K Cassel, “Transport by Gravity Currents in Building Fires” (6th Symposium, Poitiers)
  • 2002: J Garo, P Gillard, J Vantelon and A Fernandez-Pello, “On the Thin Layer Boilover” (7th Symposium, Worcester)
  • 2005:D Weinert, T Cleary, G Mulholland and P Beever, “Light Scattering Characteristics and Size Distribution of Smoke and Nuisance Aerosols” (8th Symposium, Beijing)
  • 2008: T Korhonen, S Hostikka and O Keski-Rahkonen, “A Proposal for the Goals and New Technique of Modelling Pedestrian Evacuation in Fires” (9th Symposium, Karlsruhe)
  • 2011: Ning Ren, Andrew Blum, Ying Hui Zheng, Chi Do and Andre Marshall, The University of Maryland, USA, for their paper titled “Quantifying the Initial Spray from Fire Sprinklers” (10th Symposium, Maryland)
  • 2014: Hong-Zeng (Bert) Yu, FM Global, USA, for his paper titled “Physical Scaling of Water Mist Suppression of Pool Fires in Enclosures” (11th Symposium, Christchurch)
  • 2017: Dr. Chris Lautenberger, Reax Engineering, USA for his paper titled “Gpyro3D: A Three Dimensional Generalized Pyrolysis Model” (12th Symposium, Lund)
  • 2021 James White, Salman Verma, Elizabeth Keller, Ailing Hao, Arnaud Trouvé and Andre Marshall for their paper titled “Water Mist Suppression of a Turbulent Line Fire”