IAFSS Chair Prof. Patrick van Hees to give Keynote at Interflam 2016

Interflamlogo240The Interflam 2016 international organizing committee is pleased to announce the largest technical programme in the conference’s 36 year history.

The opening Keynote Paper of the 14th international conference will be given by Prof. Patrick van Hees of Lund University, Sweden who is the present Chairman of the IAFSS.  Prof van Hees will be presenting his views on The Urgent Need for System Thinking in Fire Safety – The Only Way Forward for Testing, Engineering and  Education.

Over the 3 days there will be 120 oral presentations divided into 3 parallel session which are arranged into 23 separate topic sessions. Nearly 70 posters papers will be on display over the entire conference with designated sessions in the programme and a variety of exhibition stands, The free student workshop on Sunday afternoon has already been well supported by registrations and there are still a few subsidized student places available.

FM Global will be making an Award for Best Paper/s at the conference with up to £1000 being offered.

Organising partners are BRE, NIST, NFPA, SFPE, SP and sponsors include FM Global, Fire Testing Technology, Efectis, Kingspan, Promat, Swissi, and Arup.

With more than 6 weeks to go to the event there are already there 275 registered participants from 25 countries.

For more information, please visit: http://www.intersciencecomms.co.uk/html/conferences/Interflam/If16/if16.htm

Topics of 12th IAFSS Workshops Released

The Sunday workshops are a tradition at the IAFSS symposium. For the 12th symposium, five workshops will be arranged on Sunday afternoon June 11.

Each workshop will include a panel of experts that will engage with the audience discussing and debating the pertinent issues in the topic.

The workshop titles for the 12th symposium are:

Detailed information about the workshops can be Downloaded (PDF) or read via the links above.



Fire Emissions and Toxicity

Workshop title

Quantification of Fire Effluent Toxicity

Workshop description

Fire toxicity continues to be the neglected area of fire science. Robust determination of toxic product yields is now available, alongside equations predicting the physiological effects of fire toxicants on humans. In ISO 13571, the Available Safe Escape Time (ASET) can be predicted from the cumulative effect of each of the following four hazards:

a)      irritant gases

b)      asphyxiant gases

c)      visibility through smoke

d)      effects of heat


The first two will be considered in detail. Working to the endpoint where incapacitation occurs, such that the victim can no longer affect their own escape, the effect of each hazard as a function of time will be predicted. A second approach is based on lethality data where correlations need to be made to ensure that, instead of death being the outcome for 50% of the exposed population, the balance of probability is that all victims will be able to escape safely. In each case different safety margins need to be employed to ensure safe escape by occupants.


The workshop will cover specific examples, such as the burning of a single armchair in a typical UK living room and show how the victim will be incapacitated by smoke, irritants and asphyxiants, and the order in which those hazards occur. Methods for estimating the toxicity from other products, based on their Euro classification and toxic product yield will be discussed and examples used to see how such estimations may be performed.


The workshop goals are:

  • To identify the key toxicants present in fire effluents.
  • To explain the effects of the toxicants in terms of incapacitation, irritancy and asphyxiation.
  • To predict the effects of fire effluents on human life.
  • To estimate the toxicity of burning products from published data.


Who should attend?

Fire safety engineers, fire safety scientists, scientists of related disciplines, regulators, toxicologists, plastics manufacturers

Workshop leaders

Anna A. Stec, University of Central Lancashire, UK

[email protected]


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Wildland Fires

Workshop title

Large Outdoor Fires and the Built Environment

Workshop description

Large outdoor fires present risk to the built environment.  One example often in the international media reports are wildfires that spread into communities, referred to as Wildland-Urban Interface (WUI) fires.  WUI fires have destroyed communities throughout the world and present an emerging problem in fire safety science.  Another example are large urban fires that occur after earthquakes.


Historically, fire safety science research has spent a great deal of effort to understand fire dynamics within buildings.  Research into large outdoor fires, and how to potentially mitigate the loss of structures in such fires, is far behind other areas of fire safety science research.  This is due to the fact that fire spread in large outdoor fires is incredibly complex, involving the interaction of topography, weather, vegetation, and structures.  At the same time, synergies between fire spread in WUI fires and urban fires have not been fully exploited.  Once a wildland fire reaches a community and ignites structures, structure-structure fire spread occurs under similar mechanisms as in post-earthquake urban fire spread.


In this workshop, presentations will highlight large outdoor fires throughout the world and explore synergies between these fires.  Specifically, each presentation will provide an overview of the large outdoor fire risk to the built environment from each region, and highlight critical research needs for this problem in the context of fire safety science.


The workshop will seek to develop the foundation for an international research needs roadmap to reduce the risk of large outdoor fires to the built environment.  This workshop will also provide a forum for next generation researchers to contribute to this important topic.

Who should attend?

Fire safety engineers, fire safety scientists, scientists of related disciplines, regulators

Workshop leader

 Samuel L. Manzello, NIST, USA

[email protected]



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Evacuation and Human Behavior

Workshop title

New approaches to evacuation modelling

Workshop description

Evacuation model developments have reached a crossroads. They could continue tuning parameters and perform validation studies for the existing most common sub-models in use for the representation of their main behavioural and physical components of evacuation (i.e., pedestrian movement, route choice, etc.) or start incorporating features based on fields of research different than fire safety engineering. In recent years, scientists in research fields outside Fire Safety Engineering have conducted research which is often very relevant to evacuation modelling. What is the potential of models/methods/data/theories from other fields to be integrated in evacuation models? What are the current gaps of evacuation models which need to be addressed? What are the needs of the users/practitioners? This workshop brings together International experts from various disciplines outside Fire Safety Engineering with evacuation modelling experts in order to discuss fresh ideas into the evacuation modelling world.


This workshop represents an ideal platform for a dialogue between evacuation model developers, model users, fire safety practitioners, authorities and researchers who are involved in evacuation modelling.


The structure of the workshop will include presentations conducted by international scientists who are experts in various areas outside Fire Safety Engineering and that will provide ideas, recommendations, suggestions, models, data, theories and methods that could be implemented in existing and future evacuation models. After each presentation there will be a Q&A session between each scientist and two experts from the evacuation modelling community who will comment about the possible implementation of the proposed ideas into existing and future egress tools. At the end of all contributions, there will be also an open discussion session in which the workshop participants will have the opportunity to present comments and questions directly to the workshop panelists.

Who should attend?

Fire safety engineers, fire safety scientists, scientists of related disciplines, regulators

Workshop leader

Enrico Ronchi, Lund University, Sweden

[email protected]



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Fire safety engineering

Workshop title

Better Linking Fire Safety Science and Fire Safety Engineering: Research Priorities for Fire Safety Engineering

Workshop description

Broadly, science is focused on understanding why things work, and engineers are focused on making things work.  Engineers need scientists to produce knowledge and data they can apply, but scientists do not always know what the engineers need, and if they are focused on fundamental research, they likely do not care.  In many cases, engineers rely on applied research to find answers for specific problems, but funding for applied research can be problematic. Arguably, engineers and scientists can work more symbiotically in an environment of use inspired basic science, as reflected in Pasteur’s Quadrant.


The interaction between fire scientists and fire safety engineers follows the general trend. Some fire science research is focused primarily on better understanding physical (social or other) phenomena, not particularly with any focus on how it might be used. Applied fire research is undertaken in various organizations, but in some cases it does not get to the broader engineering community, for proprietary or other reasons. Arguably, use-inspired fundamental fire research could yield better outcomes, as suggested by Croce some years ago.


About the time of Croce’s paper, several research agendas for fire safety were developed (e.g., SFPE, UEF, Fire Forum). However, it is not clear to what extent the identified research has been advanced, the gaps have been filled, and whether new use-inspired research needs exist.  To explore the situation, the Society of Fire Protection Engineers (SFPE) embarked in 2016 on review of where the fire research and engineering situation is at: what progress has been made, what gaps exist, and what the fire safety engineering community identifies as research needs to advance the profession. This was a start. Continued dialog is needed between fire safety engineers and fire scientists to better understand what research is possible, where it might come from, how it might be funded, and how it might be implemented into practice. Likewise, discussion is needed between fire scientists and fire safety engineers regarding barriers to implementation of research outcomes: if uptake is lacking, what are the reasons, and how can the barriers be overcome?


The aim of this workshop is to continue the dialog between fire safety engineers and the fire scientists, on whom they rely to provide foundational research, data and methodologies. This workshop will feature presentations by fire safety engineers and fire safety scientists on the real and perceived needs of the fire safety engineering profession, the abilities and potential timelines of fire safety science to address the needs, and how the fire safety science and engineering communities can work even more closely than they do today to address critical needs for engineering a more fire safe world.

Who should attend?

Fire safety engineers, fire safety scientists, scientists of related disciplines, regulators

Workshop leaders

Brian Meacham, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, USA

[email protected]


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Structures in Fire

Workshop title

Global perspectives of Timber in high-rise buildings

Workshop description

As the populations of cities grow, the need for resilient high-rise structures becomes increasingly apparent. At the same time, there is a call for sustainable construction practices that reduce environmental impacts while minimizing cost. Wood as a building material has many advantages; it is environmentally friendly, a renewable resource, has low CO2 emission, is available widely, can be constructed quickly, has a high strength-to-mass ratio, is architecturally appealing, and exhibits good seismic properties. These advantages have led to an increased interest by governments, property owners and developers to use more wood in construction. The widespread use of timber in high-rise construction however is hindered by regulations and design practices concerning the fire performance of timber structures. Research shows that adequate fire performance can be achieved through the engineering of timber assemblies, but regulations are slow to change due to perceived risk associated with large-scale timber structures. Moreover, design practices are still evolving, resulting in a situation in which engineers often lack the tools and training to do performance-based design of high-rise timber structures.


The construction of mid- and high-rise timber structures is an evolving practice, and consequently many countries differ in regards to building regulations. Some countries have the same approach for combustible and non-combustible structures, while others describe in detail pre-accepted solutions to achieve the required level of fire safety for timber structures. Acceptable methods to analyse timber structures under fire hazards are also variable depending on location. Thus, the path forward is generally unclear at present.


The goal of this workshop is to bring together a panel of international experts on the fire performance of timber structures to spark discussion regarding the evolution of building regulations in countries that have adopted mid- and high-rise timber construction practices, and to share best practices for the analysis and design of timber structures for fire hazards by looking at a few cases in which high-rise timber construction was achieved. The objectives of the workshop are: (1) to share information on how building regulations in different countries ensure the fire safety of mid-rise and high-rise timber structures, (2) to share information on methods of analysis and design that are being used to achieve and document the fire resistant design of timber structures, (3) to identify other barriers to the widespread use of timber in mid- and high-rise construction, and (4) to compile recommendations for those who wish to make the engineered design of mid- and/or high-rise timber structures more prevalent, including the identification of future research needs.


A comparison of building regulations from Europe and some other countries will be presented, together with a more in-depth presentation of the building regulations for Canada. The background for the different regulations will also be discussed, and the applicability to real building projects. The fire safety design process for two cases, one from North-America and one from Europe, will also be presented, including the tools and methods used.


Who should attend?

Fire safety engineers, fire safety scientists, scientists of related disciplines, regulators.

Workshop leaders

Ann Jeffers, University of Michigan, USA

[email protected]


Kathinka Leikanger Friquin, SINTEF Building and Infrastructure, Trondheim, Norway

[email protected]


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Save the date: 12th IAFSS Symposium

Lund University, Main BuildingThe International Association for Fire Safety Science (IAFSS) is proud to announce that the 12th International Symposium on Fire Safety Science will be held June 12-16, 2017 at Lund University, Sweden.

The IAFSS Symposium is the premier fire safety science meeting in the world and has been organized triennially since 1985. The program will have parallel sessions for the presentation of fully peer-reviewed papers over the five days of the Symposium, including invited lectures from the world’s top fire science researchers. The Symposium will also have poster sessions which will provide an excellent opportunity to interact individually with researchers about their most recent work. The planning of the Symposium is well under way and there are plans on both technical and social activities (workshops, student sessions, etc.) during the days before and after the Symposium. There will also be a wide range of entertainment and tours in the companion program. Southern Sweden bosts both rural and urban areas as well as a marvellous nature within a well accessible area. More information about the different arrangements will be presented as the planning of the Symposium progresses.

The Symposium will be held on the Lund University Campus. Lund University is a world-class university and it is ranked as one of the top 100 Universities in the world. The city of Lund was founded around year 990 and in 1085 the first school was founded in the city, which makes Lund the oldest seat of learning in Northern Europe. Lund University was first officially found in 1666 and today it has well over 42.000 students enrolled, courses and educational programs are given in most conceivable disciplines. There has been active and well-known research in fire science at the faculty of engineering since the 1960s. The Department of Fire Safety Engineering is involved in both bachelor and master programs in Fire Safety Engineering with a yearly enrollment of around 70 new students in these programs.

The city center is accessible due to its small size, which makes it easy to travel both by foot and the well developed public transport system. There are also very good connections with the rest of the region and the world. The international airport in Copenhagen is only 30 minutes away by train. Copenhagen airport is the largest airport in Scandinavia and easy to reach from most major international airports.

The IAFSS are convinced that the 12th Symposium will be a very successful event and we hope to see you in Lund in June 2017!

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


Dr. Robert Hawthorne White (1951 – 2014)

Dr. Robert White, our dear friend and colleague, died peacefully on March 19, 2014 while at work. Dr. White was a renowned research scientist at the Forest Products Laboratory (FPL) for 39 years. He held a PhD in Forestry from University of Wisconsin, a MS in Forest Products from Oregon State University and a BS in Wood Science from Penn State University. After working as a summer student at the FPL in 1972, Robert aspired to have a career in wood science and landed his first and only job at the Forest Products Laboratory in 1975. He was internationally-recognized by colleagues and mentored numerous scientists and students from all over the world.

robert whiteRobert’s research has had a major impact on establishing safety standards of building materials used in construction. Throughout his career, Robert had considerable involvement with ASTM International, chairing and serving on numerous committees that establish building code standards. He received the L.J. Markwardt Award in 2007 for his distinguished contributions to the knowledge of wood as an engineering material as related to improved utilization efficiency of this renewable resource. In 2009, ASTM presented Dr. White with an Award of Merit and an honorary title of Fellow for recognition of his outstanding contributions to the development of ASTM standards. Robert authored or co-authored more than 120 scientific publications over his career and his accomplishments were frequently highlighted in Washington D.C. by Forest Service Research & Development. He was responsible for the development of an on-line database for fire test data. The database, created in 2010 to provide a comprehensive source of test data files to the public, has been downloaded more than 150,000 times to date. Robert’s unparalleled integrity heralded his notoriety as a University lecturer, graduate student advisor, counselor to local fire departments, host to International visiting scientists, advisor to Underwriters Laboratories, and service as an expert witness.

Robert served as the Project Leader of Fire Safety and Wood Preservation for 14 years and was the Team Leader of Fire Safety Research for the past 9 years. He was an internationally-recognized expert on regulatory fire resistance tests and fire performance of wood products. Robert was as genuine as they come. He was best known for his meticulous attention to detail, scientific integrity and sense of humor. Robert was the pillar of the fire safety team at FPL and his expertise will be irreplaceable. Robert was a longtime member of the IAFSS.

IAFSS Membership Poll Test

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Conference Review: Fire Behavior and Fuels Conference

The 4th Fire Behavior and Fuels Conference, an conference of the International Association of Wildland Fires (IAWF), was co-organized by Tomsk State University, Worcester Polytechnic Institute and the IAFSS.

This edition was quite peculiar as in order to extend its international outreach and create more opportunities around fire research, a second edition was held in St Petersburg, Russia on 1-4 July 2013, in addition to the US edition held in Raleigh on 18-22 February 2013. The US edition has been mentioned earlier in the previous issue of this newsletter (No. 35), so let us focus on the Russian edition and on the awards.

4th Fire Behavior and Fuels ConferenceThe Russian edition was a success, with around 150 attendees from all around the world with a large contingent of our colleagues from Russia, 7 keynote presentations, including Prof. Jose Torero for IAFSS, plus 75 oral presentations and over 40 posters representing the last research developments in fire behavior and fuels (see the program at www.iawfonline.org/2013FuelsConference). The three days of parallel sessions were preceded by a day with 5 workshops to present new applications developed in research and now available to end-users. Among those, a half-day workshop was organized by International Journal of Wildland Fires, the official journal of IAWF, to train non-native speakers to publish in scientific journals in English.

In addition to the technical part, a boat trip was organized along the Neva river. The excellent weather and the period of the year, the famous white nights, made it a memorable evening for all the participants (nothing related to the free pizza, beer and wine). The conference dinner was held in a nice restaurant on a beach along the Baltic Sea. The traditional Russian band set the tone of a decadent dinner (food but also many toasts and some dancing too) that the participants will remember for a long time. The sunset on the Gulf of Finland was also pretty amazing. Finally, a field trip was offered to the participants at the end of the conference in a nearby forest that was damaged by a recent wildfire. It was funny to see all the ecologists amazed by little plants and fungi, and all the fire scientists walking carelessly around and only looking at the destruction caused by the fire.

IAFSS, as co-organizer of the conference sponsored several awards for the two editions that included $500 prizes. The awarded papers are the following.


  • Best paper.  “First Look at Smoke Emissions from Prescribed Burns in Long-unburned Longleaf Pine Forests” by Timothy Johnson, Sheryl Akagi, Robert Yokelson, Ian Burling, David Weise, James Reardon and Shawn Urbanski.
  • Best applied paper: “Fire behaviour prediction tools for fire managers – lessons learned from tools development in New Zealand” by H. Grant Perce and Veronica R. Clifford.
  • Best student paper: “Observations of fire behavior on a grass slope during a wind reversal” by Diane Hall, Allison Charland, Craig Clements, Daisuke Seto, Jon Contezac and Braniff Davis.

St. Petersburg:

  • Best paper: “Mathematical Modeling of Crown Forest Fires with Fire breaks” by Valeriy Perminov.
  • Best student paper: “Relating Vertical Wind Profiles to Vegetation Structure for Fire Behaviour Prediction” by Kangmin Moon, Thomas Duff and Kevin Tolhurst.
  • Best applied paper: “Multi-scale Simulation of a Very Large Fire Incident. Computation from the Combustion to the Atmospheric Meso-Scale” by Jean-Baptiste Filippi, Celine Mari C. and Frédéric Bosseur.

Two special issues are in preparation for the International Journal of Wildland Fire and the Fire Safety Journal that will present a selection of the best contributions presented during the US and Russian editions.

Signed: Albert Simeoni, University of Edinburgh

Read more conference reviews in the latest edition of Fire Safety Science News, #36

A Guide to the Upholstered Furniture Fire Problem and TB 117

Below is a featured article from Fire Safety Science News #36 by John R. Hall, Jr. of the National Fire Protection Association

Those of us in fire safety science try to ‘solve’ big parts of the fire problem, where ‘solve’ means a large reduction. Typically, a proposal for a new solution must overcome objections along the following lines:

  • The solution won’t work.  It is unreliable or ineffective.
  • The solution costs too much.  The benefits of are smaller than the costs.
  • Other solutions are better.  Changing behavior or changing some other involved item (e.g., switching between heat source and item ignited) would be better.
  • The solution creates bigger problems (other types of harm) than it removes.
  • The targeted fire problem is not that big and/or is declining rapidly.  It does not need a solution.

Sometimes objections like these are accurate and deserve to be factored into the societal decisions about a particular solution.  However, accurate or not, they will always be raised by parties who prioritize other factors over fire losses.

We have been working on the upholstered furniture fire problem for half a century.  Along the way, we have built a consensus on what solutions work, how well they work, how much they cost, how much they are needed, and what non-fire consequences they have.  More recently, that consensus has come unstuck because of accumulating evidence that some of our “solutions” create serious non-fire problems.

The signal event marking this changing consensus was the 2013 decision in California to delete the small open flame portion of the requirements contained in Technical Bulletin 117.  This is – or was – the only regulation in North America that addressed non-smoldering fires involving upholstered furniture.  Because California is such a large part of the North American market, TB 117 had an impact far beyond the state of California. I will leave it to others to describe the growing concerns with flame retardant treatments of upholstered furniture and associated effects on people’s health.  In the limited space available here, I want to frame the discussion of what we should do next in terms of the size and characteristics of the fire problem.  Our challenge is to develop a best estimate of the challenge we face, and then consider the pros and cons of alternative strategies to address that challenge.

From 1980-1984 to 2006-2010, estimated annual average home fires and losses involving upholstered furniture as the first item ignited declined substantially (see figure).

Figure: Number of US home fires and deaths with upholstered furniture as the first item ignited.

During this decline, civilian deaths declined by 61%, from 1,220 (25% of total home fire deaths) to 480 (19%), and fires declined by 77%, from 29,400 (4% of the total) to 6,700 (2%). Moreover, civilian injuries declined by 68%, from 2,630 (13% of the total) to 840 (7%), and direct property damage, after adjustment for inflation to 2010 dollars, declined by 17%, from $522 million (7% of the total) to $434 million (6%). On the one hand, this is a story of great progress, with hundreds of lives saved each year.  On the other hand, this remains one of the largest parts of the U.S. fire death problem.

U.S. fire statistics are based on the National Fire Incident Reporting System (NFIRS), dating back to 1980.  Starting in about 2003, changes to NFIRS made it possible to estimate fires associated with a product in the role of the most important secondary item ignited.  Using this new data (see 2nd row in the table below), NFPA constructed the following analysis considering all of the large pieces of data in the furniture fire problem. 



Civilian Deaths

Civilian Injuries

Direct Damage (in US$ millions)

 Lighted tobacco product

 1,900 (21%)


 270 (45%)

 320 (29%)

 $97 (17%)

 Open flame from other fire  (secondary item)

 2,200 (25%)

 130 (21%)

 280 (25%)

 $138 (24%)

 Operating equipment

 1,500 (17%)

 70 (12%)

 140 (13%)

 $81 (14%)

 Small open flame

 1,400 (16%)

 60 (10%)

 220 (20%)

 $69 (12%)

 Ember, ash or other or  unclassified hot or smoldering  object

 1,300 (15%)

 60 (10%)

 130 (11%)

 $150 (27%)

 Unclassified, other or multiple  heat source

 600 (7%)

 20 (3%)

 30 (3%)

 $31 (5%)


 8,900 (100%)

 610 (100%)

 1,120 (100%)

 $566 (100%)

Table: Upholstered furniture home fire problem, 2006-2010 averages, by major scenario.

The figure below shows upholstered furniture fire deaths by type of ignition source. This comprehensive overview tells us some useful things. Lighted tobacco products (principally cigarettes, cigars and pipes, but not including matches and lighters) account for 45% of upholstered furniture home fire deaths, dwarfing any other scenario but not dwarfing all other scenarios combined.


The 12% share for operating equipment and the 10% share for ember, ash or other or unclassified hot or smoldering object, both could be treated as likely smoldering ignitions, addressable by a smoldering fire test, but it is not clear that these fires are well represented by a lit cigarette applied to places where discarded cigarettes tend to land. The 31% of deaths associated with some kind of flaming ignition are numerous enough to justify our attention.

The question finally is what to do with this information. NFPA has been asked to develop a flaming-ignition test for upholstered furniture.  In the process, we are considering not just small flaming ignitions but also ignitions by another burning object.  Our goal is to be able to assess candidate technologies and designs for their effectiveness in addressing scenarios of importance.  The question of when and whether to build binding requirements around any test is a separate question that involves other considerations.

I don’t know anyone who wants to adopt a requirement that can be satisfied only by technologies that create more problems than they solve.  I understand different parties have different opinions about the implications of the evidence for reliability, effectiveness, cost, and non-fire effects.  I have a problem with anyone who wants to prejudge the debate by excluding certain fires or certain non-fire effects from the discussion.  I know my employer, NFPA, is trying very hard to be a fair and honest broker in these discussions and to keep the discussion and the search for solutions comprehensive in every sense of the word.  I hope readers of this piece will do likewise.

You can read additional articles on this topic published in the IAFSS Newsletter, Fire Safety Science News on this topic:

In Fire Safety Science News #36:
Effectiveness vs. Toxicity of Flame Retardants by David Rich
Open Flame Testing of Upholstered Furniture and Fire Safety by Marcelo M. Hirschler

Applications for the BRE Chair in Fire Safety Engineering at Edinburgh


BRE Research Chair in Fire Safety Engineering

Vacancy Ref: :


Closing Date :


Contact Person :

Professor Luke Bisby

Contact Number :

0131 650 5710

Contact Email :

[email protected]

The establishment of the BRE Centre of Excellence in Fire Safety Engineering has been extremely successful, both in terms of research and educational outcomes. It brings together the UK’s two most prestigious fire research and educational institutions, both of which have acclaimed international status in this field. The formation of this Centre has represented an innovation for the UK which has since been emulated with the creation of four additional BRE Centres of Excellence in research areas associated with the built environment in other UK universities. BRE Global Ltd and BRE Ltd are owned by the BRE Trust. 

To continue its policy of investment in excellent people, the School of Engineering seeks to appoint the BRE Research Chair in Fire Safety Engineering. You will have an internationally evident research track record in fire safety engineering with an emphasis on combustion and/or fire dynamics relevant to fire safety in the built environment. You will contribute to teaching in the School of Engineering, particularly in areas relevant to Fire Safety Engineering.


The BRE Trust (http://www.bre.co.uk/bretrust/) which supports the BRE Chair in Fire Safety Engineering, is a research and education charity for the public benefit, registered by the Charity Commission (registered charity number 1092193). It was created to ensure that BRE remains independent of specific commercial interests, and retains its reputation for objectivity and impartiality in research and consultancy. All of the companies owned by the BRE Trust contribute their profits to supporting the Trust’s mission to promote and support excellence and innovation in the built environment for the benefit of all.

The BRE Trust achieves this by funding and managing a strategic research programme in the built environment sector. Fire protection research, consultancy, testing and certification activities are undertaken by BRE Global Ltd which incorporates the Fire Research Station (FRS) and the Loss Prevention Certification Board (LPCB) and has been a world leader in fire safety research since its establishment in 1947 and recognised as the UK’s national fire research and fire safety centre. It continues to be involved with major fire incident investigations which have included Flixborough, Ronan Point, Summerland, Piper Alpha, Kings Cross, the Channel Tunnel fires and more recently the Rose Park Care Home and Atherstone on Stour.


The University of Edinburgh has a long tradition in Fire Safety Engineering research and education and is recognised internationally for its work over the last forty years. This has been characterised by innovative research and the education of several of the current leaders in the field. The programme was considerably increased in both size and breadth during the past decade by the development of new state-of-the-art experimental facilities (Fire Labs I & II); the refurbishment of space for Fire & Structures research; and the addition of four new academic staff members in support of the Structures and Fire degree courses. The Fire Safety Engineering Group at the School of Engineering in the University of Edinburgh (http://www.see.ed.ac.uk/fire/) is involved in a wide range of research subjects and is also deeply involved in setting the direction for the practice of Fire Safety Engineering globally. Their objective is to develop a co-ordinated approach to performance-based Fire Safety Engineering Design. This work may be subdivided in several focus areas, including:

• Fire dynamics (ignition and fire growth) 
• Fire behaviour of materials 
• Fire modelling and integrated numerical simulation
• Fire Safety Engineering methodology
• Structural Fire Engineering


At present the School of Engineering offers a number of courses directly related to Fire Safety Engineering. These include:

• The BEng/MEng in Structural Engineering with Fire Safety;
• The MSc in Structural and Fire Engineering (SAFE); and
• The Erasmus Mundus joint International MSc in Fire Safety Engineering (joint with Lund and Ghent).

The BRE Centre currently organises two Continuing Professional Development (CPD) short courses through The University’s Office for Lifelong Learning (http://www.lifelong.ed.ac.uk/); one on ‘Fire Science and Fire Investigation’, and another on ‘Fire Dynamics and Fire Safety Engineering Design’. The successful candidate would be expected to participate and take the initiative in new CPD ventures.


You will be expected to contribute to research in the Institute for Infrastructure and the Environment and teaching and administration in the School of Engineering. You will be expected to:

• identify and propagate visions for new research
• generate substantial external research funding and deliver significant output
• lead and expand a group of academics, research staff and PhD students 
• publish in quality peer-reviewed research journals
• contribute to teaching to masters level, in the School of Engineering, particularly in areas relevant to Fire Safety Engineering. 
• undertake appropriate administrative duties
• contribute to the intellectual wealth and collegiate environment of the School.

Responsibilities: Research and Leadership

You will initiate, perform and deliver fundamental and applied research that complements and integrates with other appropriate research areas in the School. 

You will be expected to: 

1. Initiate, plan, lead, perform and deliver research into fire safety engineering. The University of Edinburgh aims to retain and expand its international position in this research domain.
2. Demonstrate and deliver internationally-evident quality research, leadership and publishing activity.
3. Generate UK, European and international funding to support this research and establish it in the world arena. 
4. Lead and expand a vibrant and interactive group of academics, research staff and PhD students within the Institute for Infrastructure and Environment. 
5. Develop graduating fire safety engineering professionals and early career researchers, by means of BEng, MEng, MSc teaching and doctoral training.
6. Create, lead and participate in collaborative research projects.
7. Include in the above collaborative research projects relevant industrial partners.
8. Participate in Knowledge Exchange using standard University policies and procedures.

Responsibilities: Teaching 

The School’s degrees in Civil Engineering are accredited by the Joint Board of Moderators (The Institution of Civil Engineers, the Institution of Structural Engineers, the Chartered Institution of Highways and Transportation, and the Institute of Highway Engineers). In addition to the degrees associated with fire safety engineering, the School also offers the following:

• Civil Engineering (H804/H800)
• Structural and Fire Safety Engineering (H225/H224)
• Structural Engineering with Architecture (H225/H224)

You will be expected to provide vision and leadership in the ongoing development and delivery of courses on degrees with particular emphasis on Fire Safety Engineering.

You would be expected to participate and take the initiative in new CPD ventures such as those currently organised by the BRE Centre through The University’s Office for Lifelong Learning (http://www.lifelong.ed.ac.uk/): ‘Fire Science and Fire Investigation’; ‘Fire Dynamics and Fire Safety Engineering Design’. 

Further details are available on the undergraduate degree programmes are available from the School website and the University websites. The School runs a growing range of successful MSc programmes on which the candidate will be expected to contribute teaching and project supervision.

Responsibilities: Administration 

You will become the Director of the BRE Centre for Fire Safety Engineering and will also be expected to undertake and deliver senior administrative duties within the Institute and School or in the wider University environment, where appropriate.


You will be expected to meet the following essential requirements:

• The vision to generate and deliver an internationally recognised research agenda in Fire Safety Engineering. 
• An internationally-evident reputation for performing quality research in areas relevant to fire safety Engineering and its implementation, including a record of obtaining funding for research (particular attention will be paid to applicants with expertise in fire dynamics, and/or combustion). 
• A significant number of high quality peer-reviewed journal publications.
• Demonstrable success in winning research funding, team building and delivery of research outcomes, including collaborative research with industry.
• Demonstrated excellent academic and research leadership.
• Excellence and commitment as a motivated and proficient educator in Higher Education.
• The ability to teach required subjects with highest proficiency across the range of teaching provision. 
• Excellent communication, presentation and organisational skills and high proficiency in written and oral English language.

Desirable Requirements

• Significant experience of working with industry on both research and consultancy projects and managing/maintaining growing industrial partnerships.


Fire Safety Engineering research is conducted within the Institute for Infrastructure and Environment: http://www.eng.ed.ac.uk/research/IIE/

The Institute is shaping the development of better technologies to improve the built and natural environments. In addition to the BRE Centre for Fire Safety Engineering, the Institute conducts similarly excellent activities in the following areas: 

• Fire Safety Engineering (including fire initiation and propagation, fire growth, compartment fire dynamics, fire chemistry and material flammability and the structural response of materials and buildings to fire conditions); 
• Structural Engineering (including theoretical, computational and experimental research covering shell structures; granular solids mechanics and handling, structural mechanics in medicine, and FRPs in structural engineering); 
• Non-Destructive Testing (including NDT of concrete and masonry bridges, NDT of railway trackbed, forward numerical modelling of NDT); 
• Construction Management (including construction process simulation and management); and 
• Environmental Engineering (including membrane technologies, water and wastewater treatment, and water treatment for developing countries).

The Institute is located in the Alexander Graham Bell building (opened in 2004) and the William Rankine building (opened in 2006) and currently has eighteen FTE academic staff, including six Professors, two Readers, six Senior Lecturers and four Lecturers. 

Laboratory Facilities

There are nine main teaching and research laboratories in Civil and Environmental Engineering. Those directly relevant to the current post include:

• Fire Lab I – The Rushbrook Fire Safety Laboratory (including cone calorimeter, 0.5MW furniture hood, and Flame Propagation Apparatus);
• Fire Lab II – The Fire and Materials Laboratory (including high temperature mechanical and thermal characterisation equipment);
• The Structures Large Test Hall (recently underwent a £500K refurbishment and now allows for medium-scale structural fire tests using radiant panel arrays); and
• The Light Structures and Materials “Clean” Laboratory. 

Access to other equipment for e.g. mass spectroscopy, thermogravimetric analysis, dynamic mechanical thermal analysis, etc, are available within the School of Engineering.

Edinburgh Research Partnership in Engineering and Mathematics

The School of Engineering is a founder member of the Edinburgh Research Partnership in engineering and mathematics (ERPem), a consortium involving the University of Edinburgh, Heriot-Watt University and Edinburgh Napier University, set up in 2006 with SFC/OST investment. The ERPem is organised into six Joint Research Institutes (JRIs) dedicated to world-class research, innovation and education in engineering and mathematical science. The long-term vision of ERPem is to be the prime vehicle for world-leading research in Engineering and Mathematical Sciences carried out at the participating institutions, and one which is recognised worldwide as a centre of excellence in these disciplines.

The Joint Research Institutes are in the areas of: 

• Civil and Environmental Engineering
• Signal and Image Processing
• Mathematical Sciences
• Subsurface Science and Engineering
• Energy
• Integrated Systems (Precision Optical, Electronic and Miniature Systems)

Each of the six JRIs combines the relevant academic staff, postdoctoral research fellows and their graduate students from the partner Universities into a single joint research institute, significantly enhancing research capacity and scale.


This role is grade UE10 Professorial (range £54,826 to 91,978). Salary is paid monthly by direct transfer to Bank or Building Society account, normally on the 28th of the month.

The positions are open to candidates of all nationalities. Those who would enhance the diversity of the School in terms of nationality and/or gender are particularly encouraged to apply. 

If relocation within the UK is required, the University will reimburse the successful candidate for vouched expenditure, within an overall upper limit of £3,000. If relocation from overseas is required, a contribution will be made towards vouched expenditure. 

The University recognises that it may be advantageous that the successful candidate should be able to accept, within reasonable limits, consultancies or other paid employment outwith their University appointment. Permission to undertake such activities will not be withheld unnecessarily but it is a condition of the appointment that such employment may be undertaken only with the express approval of the Head of School.

The taking up of references (which will occur without notice unless otherwise requested) is selective and does not imply a decision that the application will be placed on the final short-list for interviews.

Applicants will be informed as to whether they have been shortlisted or not, but we may not be in a position to give detailed feedback to those not shortlisted.


Eligibility to work

In accordance with the Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act 2006 the University of Edinburgh, as an employer, has a legal responsibility to prevent illegal working and therefore must check that all employees are entitled to work in the United Kingdom (UK).

To do so, the University of Edinburgh requires to see original documents evidencing right to work in the UK before commencement of employment and this is normally carried out at interview. Details will be provided in any letter of invitation to interview.

For further information on eligibility to work visit http://www.ed.ac.uk/schools-departments/human-resources/recruitment/eligibility-immigration

This post meets UK Border Agency criteria for sponsorship by the University of Edinburgh. Even if you are not currently eligible to work in the UK, it may be possible for the University of Edinburgh to sponsor you to obtain a Tier 2 (General) visa to enable you to take up the appointment should you be successful at interview.

For applicants interested in sponsorship information is located at http://www.ed.ac.uk/schools-departments/human-resources/recruitment/eligibility-immigration/employees-guidance/working-in-uk

However, if you have previously been sponsored by an employer within the UK but your leave has expired or lapsed and you are no longer in the UK, according to UK Border Agency rules you can cannot apply for sponsorship under any category of Tier 2 for a period of 12 months after the date your leave has expired or lapsed.


Applicants may be made online at http://www.jobs.ed.ac.uk/. The application process is quick and easy to follow, and you will receive email confirmation of safe receipt of your application. The online system allows you to submit a c.v. In your application please include a covering letter which highlights, with evidence, how you meet all of the essential criteria and any of the desirable criteria you meet. Candidates will be short-listed and interviewed based on how they meet these criteria.


Informal enquiries are welcome: please contact Professor Asif Usmani (+44 (0)131 6505789 or [email protected]) or Prof. Luke Bisby (+44 (0)131 6505710 or [email protected]).

The University reserves the right to vary the candidate information or make no appointment at all. Neither in part, nor in whole does this information form part of any contract between the University and any individual.


The School of Engineering

The integrated School of Engineering was formed in 2002 from the various individual departments to address diverse and complex challenges across the entire field of engineering, at the micro- and macroscopic/global scales. At the microscopic scale, its research supports the design and deployment of novel nanotechnology and devices for biological monitoring and medical diagnosis; at the macro/global scale, it optimises the security and sustainability of the built environment and develops engineering solutions to issues raised by climate change. The Vision of the School is the achievement of excellence across each of its five research areas, from the science and mathematics that underpin engineering research, to its industrial and commercial applications and four teaching disciplines, all accredited by the professional Engineering Institutes. Not only was the School ranked third (Research Fortnight Power Analysis) in General Engineering in the UK Research Assessment Exercise (2008), but it also has a strong track record in producing more than 50 technology spin-outs and developing industry links that enable our graduates to build relationships that last a whole career. In 2011/2012 the School was successful in achieving £28m research awards/income.
The School is one of the largest in the University, comprising over 150 staff and over 350 postgraduate, 140 MSc and 1,400 undergraduate students. The School occupies approximately 10,000 m2 in over ten buildings on the University’s King’s Buildings site in South Edinburgh.
Each member of academic staff teaches in one of four engineering disciplines and is a member of a Research Institute:
Research Institutes
• Digital Communications 
• Energy Systems 
• Infrastructure and Environment
• Integrated Micro and Nano Systems 
• Materials and Processes 
Teaching disciplines
• Chemical Engineering
• Civil & Environmental Engineering
• Electrical Engineering & Electronics
• Mechanical Engineering
The School currently offers 43 degree programme titles including combined degrees with Computer Science, Management and Architecture. The School offers the four year BEng and five year MEng degree programmes, all accredited by the professional institutions, and 10 taught MSc degrees.
Facilities and Centres
UK Carbon Capture and Storage Research Centre is a virtual hub that brings together UK carbon capture and storage (CCS) researchers and acts as a two-way interface between the academic community and key stakeholders (e.g. government, industry and potential international collaborators). 
The Industrial Doctorate Centre in Offshore Renewable Energy will train 50 engineering doctorate students over nine years in all aspects of Offshore Renewable Energy. 
The UK All-Waters Combined Current and Wave Test Facility for wave and tidal devices will be operational by 2013 and will enhance the University’s leadership in low-carbon energy research.
The BRE Centre for Fire Safety Engineering hosts bespoke equipment to support research and consultancy with precisely controlled high temperatures and the latest image analysis techniques. 
The recently refurbished Structures Test Hall is our high-headroom lab for testing large and unusual assemblies. There are state-of-the-art lab facilities for developing and testing NDE and material handling technologies, a smart infrastructure lab and a good range of environmental engineering testing resources for the water and waste management sectors. 
The School of Engineering is a partner in SynthSys, the Centre for Synthetic and Systems Biology which is an interdisciplinary research environment with members across many Research Institutes, Colleges and Schools, including The University of Edinburgh, Heriot-Watt University and BioSS. It aims to pioneer genetic and chemical tools to manipulate the cell, technologies to quantify responses at the single-cell level, and mathematical models to predict and control cellular behaviour.


College of Science and Engineering (http://www.ed.ac.uk/science-engineering)

The College of Science and Engineering (CSE) is one of the largest and highest-ranked science and engineering groupings in the UK. Headed by Professor Lesley Yellowlees, CSE comprises seven Schools (Biological Sciences, Chemistry, Engineering, GeoSciences, Informatics, Mathematics, and Physics and Astronomy). Informatics is located in the University’s Central Area near George Square, with the other six 2 miles further south at the King’s Buildings. The College has over 2,700 academic and support staff, and educates some 6,000 undergraduates, 800 taught postgraduates and 1,500 research students. It is in the front rank of UK university science and engineering groupings for research quality and income (£130M in 2001/12), and is a key player in many European and international research collaborations.

Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) 2008 
In the 2008 RAE over 600 research active staff were returned. 96% of the College submission was of international quality in its originality, significance and rigour with 66% of the submission being rated internationally excellent.


The University of Edinburgh

For more than four centuries, our people and their achievements have rewritten history time and again. They’ve explored space, revolutionised surgery, published era-defining books, paved the way for life-saving medical breakthroughs and introduced to the world many inventions, discoveries and ideas from penicillin to Dolly the sheep. We have believed that anything is possible.

We still do. The latest Research Assessment Exercise highlighted our place at the forefront of international research. This adds to our international reputation for the quality of our teaching and our student experience excellence. 

As a member of staff you will be part of one of the world’s leading universities, with 22 Schools spread over 3 Colleges that offer more than 500 undergraduate and 160 postgraduate courses to over 30,000 students each year. Professional services are critical to this success as well as our world-class teaching, research and student facilities. In fact, we are one of the top employers in Edinburgh, with over 11,700 people spread across a wide range of academic and supporting roles. 

As a world-changing, world-leading university we are an exciting, positive, creative, challenging and rewarding place to work. We give you support, nurture your talent, develop and reward success and integrate academic, professional and personal career goals, as well as give your career the benefit of a great and distinguished reputation.