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Friday, April 24, 2015

SPECIAL LECTURE - Urban Fire Regimes: Past and Present


Monday 27 April 1.00pm
Seminar Room 3.01
Alexander Graham Bell Building
The King's Buildings  EH93JL

Greg BANKOFF
Professor of Modern History, University of Hull

ABSTRACT 
As Stephen Pyne reminds us, the built environment is as much a fire environment as forest and field, and fire cares little whether it burns old growth slum or ancient spruce. Every city functions as a particular type of fire regime. Just as a forest fire regime characterizes the spatial patterns, temporal sequence and ecosystem impacts of fire on the landscape, so an urban fire regime characterises the historical nexus between the environment in its fullest sense (climate, topography, and natural resources) and the socio-economic and political systems that organize and sustain concentrated human settlements. Throughout most of urban history, these structures were mainly built of materials readily sourced from the surrounding environment, particularly wood. Even when a building was constructed from more substantial matter such as bricks or stone, much of the framework, floors and ceilings continued to be made from timber. In the past, these wooden cities burnt fiercely and with regularity either through accident or from intent. The emergence of bourgeois elites in European and neo-European cities in the nineteenth century who had a special interest in the public protection of private wealth helped catalyze developments in fireproofing, fire extinguishing and insurance. This “fire gap” has come to dominate the subsequent thinking on fire safety when the reality for most people, the billions who inhabit the burgeoning informal settlements that ring the world’s fastest growing cities, the reality is quite the opposite: they still inhabit flammable cities that burn with regularity. This paper examines urban fire regimes, past and present, to show how conflagration in the built environment is always as much a social construction as it is a physical one.

BIO 
Over the last 20 years, I have published extensively on the historical dimension of how societies adapt to risk as well as engaged with contemporary civil defence and emergency management practices in Asia, Australasia and more recently in Europe. Since arriving in the UK seven years ago, I have been a member of the Independent Review Body examining the 2007 flooding in Hull as well as co-investigator on an ESRC project examining how the fragmentation of flood risk management practices in the UK created new governance challenges through the processes of privatization and the sub-contraction of services. Currently I am co-PI on a 5-year ESRC/NERC project to increase resilience to continental earthquakes in Kazakhstan, Nepal/India and China that brings together a group of earth scientists, social scientists and experienced practitioners in the communication of scientific knowledge to policy makers. Among my recent publications is a co-edited volume entitled Flammable Cities: Urban Fire and the Making of the Modern World (University of Wisconsin Press, 2011). I was also co-editor of the latest IFRC’s World Disaster Report 2014.

Pizza from 12.45pm

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Thoughts on the 2014 Wildland-Urban Fire in Valparaiso


Fire Technology letter to the editor from friends of the Edinburgh Fire Group.

The Great Valparaiso Fire and Fire Safety Management in Chile
Pedro Reszka and Andres Fuentes
Universidad Tecnica Federico Santa Maria
 
© S AF, Chilean Air Force (Reska and Fuentes 2014)

Thursday, March 05, 2015

A 'new' source of data for Fire Models' validation



An officially unpublished report from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is now available for download from the BRE Centre for Fire Safety Engineering collection at the Edinburgh Research Archive (ERA).

Standard Room Fire Test Research at the National Bureau of Standards
Lee B.T. and Steel J.S.
1987

Although the report was never approved for publication, it is one of the few research studies where experimental data from room-corner, Cone Calorimeter, and full-scale flame spread tests on "interior finish materials" is presented. Additionally, remarkable handwritten notes from the authors are shown throughout the report. This document has great value for validation exercises of fire models.

Thanks to Dr. Vyto Babrauskas (www.doctorfire.com) for the valuable finding.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Partnering for the Future of Fire Safety Engineering Education



The International Master of Science in Fire Safety Engineering (IMFSE), an educational program offered jointly by the Universities of Edinburgh, Ghent, and Lund since 2010, has recently been selected as one of only 19 programs (from an original cohort of 50) to be included in the European Joint Master Degree (EJMD) Catalogue for the period 2015-2018.

This unique, two-year program attracts exceptional applicants from all over the world, and prepares its graduates for future leadership roles within the fire safety engineering community. The 99 graduates to date have taken up roles in the UK, Europe, South America, Australasia, and Africa.

The attractiveness of this program amongst top applicants has previously been assured by a number of generous scholarships funded by the European Commission. In recognising the excellence of the IMFSE during its initial four years of funding, the European Commission have pledged ongoing match funding in the amount of €441,000, for nine full scholarships for international students between 2015 and 2018.

To take advantage of this generous match funding offer and guarantee the ongoing success of this world-leading initiative, the IMFSE partners (Edinburgh, Ghent, and Lund) must secure guarantees of match funding totalling at least €147,000 annually, before 6th March 2015.

We have already secured €55,000 in annual match funding for 2015-2018, and we are now seeking additional industry partners to join the IMFSE Consortium. Membership in the IMFSE Consortium will be offered to industry partners contributing a minimum of €10,000 per year for three years.

Consortium members will be invited to host summer internships, offer MSc thesis topics, participate in the annual IMFSE Fire Safety Day, and will be granted unique recruitment access to our exceptional graduates.

Industry partners interested in taking advantage of the opportunity to participate in sustaining and educating the next generation of fire safety engineering leaders are encouraged to contact Profs Bart Merci (bart.merci@ugent.be), Albert Simeoni (a.simeoni@ed.ac.uk), or Luke Bisby (luke.bisby@ed.ac.uk) before 28th February 2015 to learn more.

Additional information on the IMFSE program is available from: www.imfse.ugent.be

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Tisova Fire Tests - Week 1



The setting for the Tisova fire tests could not be more picturesque, cool crisp winter days near a river in the western province of Carlsbad, on an old coal processing site. Over the past week you would have found a small band of academics making holes in floors, ceilings, walls, and beams in one of the buildings located on this site 25 minutes to the west of Karlovy Vary (where we are staying).  Whilst this is a lot of fun, it is all in the name of research.  

Karlovy Vary at night from our apartment

The aim:

To understand the structural effects of a travelling fire on concrete and composite structures, both during the fire and residually after the fire has cooled back to ambient. We are aiming to run the test on the 28th of January.  

Who’s involved:

University of Edinburgh, Technical Research Institute of Sweden (SP), Imperial College London, CSTB, Lulea Technical University, Czech Technical University in Ostrava, MajaCzech, and the Fire and Rescue service of the Karlovy Vary region. 

When did we start:

Set-up on site started on the 13th of January with two members from SP (David Lange and Fredrik Kahl) marking out holes for instrumentation and setting up the lighting for working into the evenings.  Jamie Maclean and I (David Rush) arrived on site on the 14th of January having set-off from Edinburgh on the 12th with a van full of equipment.

The test building

What have we done so far: 

The first week has been mainly drilling holes through the concrete and composite slabs for the 60 plate thermometers, drilling into the concrete and composite slab at various depths to place 112  thermocouples, and installing the 56 thermocouple trees in the fire compartment.  On top of this we have taken out the internal steel partitions that were in the fire compartment, made many holes in the plasterboard partitions on the floor above the fire compartment to run cables to the data loggers, broken a sledge hammer trying to break through a bathroom floor and created a lot of additional dust.

Thermocouple trees inside fire compartment (Photo credit Dave Lange)

Trials and tribulations:

Jamie Maclean and drill
So far there have been few trials to speak of, the only two of note are locating the troughs in the composite slab so that we can accurately measure temperatures, and a delay in the wood supply due to the time that its taking to dry it.

What’s next:

Over the next week the numbers on site will swell to around 10, meaning that we can start hooking up the 700 or so measurement channels, placing the wood (when it arrives), protecting  the necessary cabling in the fire compartment, and install the remaining thermocouples and deflection gauges

Highlights:

Globus is a big positive for us with tasty sandwiches, coffees, and pastries that keep us full of energy for the long days on site.  Finding drill bits long enough to drill 650mm into a concrete beam from above, which we wouldn’t have found had it not been for the very helpful and patient English speaking lady at the local hardware store, which we have visited everyday so far with random lists of equipment that we need.

(Photos copyright of David Rush)

Friday, January 02, 2015

International Master of Science in Fire Safety Engineering




The application forms for the new intake of students in the International Master of Science in Fire Safety Engineering (IMFSE), are available online for a few more weeks!

Submission deadline: 9 January 2015 for scholarship applicants and 30 April 2015 for self-sponsored applicants.

The programme runs between September 2015 and June 2017.