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Friday, July 01, 2011

Ove Arup Foundation supports groundbreaking Fire Safety Initiative

The Ove Arup Foundation have made a major investment to tackle the obdurate problems surrounding fire safety. Working with Edinburgh Fire Safety Engineers at the BRE Centre for Fire Safety Engineering and Architects at the University of Edinburgh, The Institute for the Study of Science, Technology and Innovation (ISSTI) will explore how to ensure the effective adoption of technical advances in the built environment.

The Ove Arup Foundation has agreed to invest £200,000 over the next 5 years in a major interdisciplinary research and knowledge transfer initiative aimed at Integrating Technical and Social Aspects of Fire Safety Engineering Expertise (ITSAFE).

"We are excited to explore new approaches to reducing risks from fire, which still kills too many people. While there have been significant technical advances in fire safety, further progress will be limited without changes in policy and regulation and in the practices and responses of professions and organisations involved and the wider public."

--Sir Duncan Michael, Ove Arup Foundation trustee and former chairman

What are the barriers to adopting the latest improvements in Fire Safety Engineering? Do existing fire safety regulations and systems inhibit the adoption of new and safer materials and techniques? Can we integrate fire safety with other goals such as building aesthetics, security and environmental sustainability? These and other pressing issues will be addressed by the ITSAFE project, which builds on an earlier Arup Foundation award which has helped to establish the world class Centre for Fire Safety Engineering at the University of Edinburgh.

The ITSAFE team – comprising Robin Williams, Stewart Russell, Donald MacKenzie, and Steve Yearley from ISSTI, Luke Bisby and Jose Torero from the BRE Centre, and Remo Pedreschi and Liam Ross from the Edinburgh School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture – will examine how changes in policy and professional practice can improve current fire safety.

ISSTI Director Robin Williams welcomed the Ove Arup Foundation's generous support:

"This reflects our success in putting together an interdisciplinary consortium, bringing together social science, fire safety engineering and architectural design, equipped to examine these complex questions".

In the coming year ITSAFE will be recruiting an ambitious scholar to lead this research programme and a PhD student to build expertise in this area. Anyone interested should contact Robin Williams at