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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Fire Group News Overview Jan to Aug 2011

News overview from the BRE Centre for Fire Safety Engineering at the University of Edinburgh during the first semester of 2011 (extracted from the IAFSS Newsletter n31, August 2011).

Since Jan 2011 two new PhD students have joined us: Shaun Devaney (Ireland) and Ryan Hilditch (UK). During the same time, three students received the PhD degree: Dr Rory Hadden (now at University of Western Ontario, Canada), Dr Pauline Bartoli (now University of Corsica, France) and Dr Jamie Stern-Gottfried (now at Arup, UK). Two Research Associates promoted outside the group: Dr David Lange joined SP, Sweden, and Dr Claire Belcher got an academic position at University of Exeter, UK, in Earth System Science. The current group consists of nine academics, four research associates and 26 PhD students. Other worthy news are summarized as follows.

The Ove Arup Foundation has made a major investment to tackle the obdurate problems surrounding fire safety. Working with Fire Safety Engineers 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).

The Centre has secured a major grant from The Lloyd's Register Educational Trust (LRET) to hold a series of three annual week-long intensive seminars ("think tanks") in areas related to Fire Safety Engineering. This series of seminars was motivated by the need to have a new generation of leaders in Fire Safety Engineering that can drive the field through the drastic transition it is currently experiencing. An ever evolving construction industry, drastic changes in regulatory environment, multi-disciplinary drivers for innovation, and ever increasing demands for the fire service require a new face of leadership. The seminars are intended to bring together selected leaders of today with the leaders of the future to define a coherent path for different areas of critical importance to the field. This unique initiative was launched this year with The 1st Annual LRET/UoE Global Technical Leadership Seminar in Fire Safety Engineering. The seminar had the theme of "Education for the Future of Fire Safety Engineering," and was held in Scotland between 30 May and 3 June 2011. Participants were selected as key players in defining the future of advanced fire safety engineering as a professional/academic discipline. The seminar was run as a five day retreat, delivered by the BRE Centre for Fire Safety Engineering at a residential venue close to Edinburgh. Each session began with a presentation to be given by one of the participants. This initiated discussions on the relevant issues. A small group of undergraduate and graduate students, some of whose studies are also financially supported by The LRET, were also competitively selected to join the seminar, bringing the total number of participants to approximately 20. Dissemination activities will include the publication of a "white paper" based on the seminar's discussions and outcomes. All of the participants felt that the event was a great success and will lead to a number of important changes, actions, and significant progress for fire safety engineering education globally. Feedback has been very positive thus far, and several participants have formulated specific personal action items within their own organizations.

Prof José Torero delivered the public lecture: "The Twin Towers: 10 years – 10 Lessons on Sustainable Infrastructure" on 14th March 2011. This was a joint event of The Royal Academy of Engineering and The Royal Society of Edinburgh. The collapse of the World Trade Center towers represents one of the most dramatic failures of modern structural engineering. One of the most exhaustive and expensive failure analyses in history was conducted in the midst of speculation, controversy and conspiracy theories. In parallel, the world has seen an extraordinary evolution of the super-tall building. Seven of the ten tallest buildings in the world have been built after 9/11. These not only include the tallest four, but eight of these buildings are outside the USA. Furthermore, a strong drive towards sustainability has driven tall building design to levels of innovation never seen before. Prof Torero’s presentation extracted, from a decade of questioning and innovation, ten lessons on what is sustainable infrastructure.

Prof José Torero was awarded the 2010 Tom Dalyell Prize for Science Communication at the University of Edinburgh during his Christmas Lecture "Fire: A story of fascination, fear and familiarity". In his lecture, Prof Torero discussed how humans have been fascinated with fire for millions of years. He examined how fire can provide welcome warmth in everyday life but, on a bigger scale, the unpredictability of fire can be terrifying. He contrasted the emotions associated with fire, depending on whether it is under control or not.

Congratulations to Dr Francesco Colella for winning the Lloyd’s Science of Risk Prize in the Technology Category. The prize was for his research paper "A Novel Multiscale Methodology for Simulating Tunnel Ventilation Flows During Fires" (published in Fire Technology). He led this work as a Research Associate at The School of Engineering from 2007 to 2010. This is Lloyd’s research prize for academics and aims at keeping the world’s leading specialist insurance market with the pace of academic knowledge and cutting edge thinking. For the same award competition, the fire group had two more papers short-listed as the top of each category. Dr Wolfram Jahn was short-listed in Technology Risk, for his paper "Forecasting Fire Growth using an Inverse Zone Modelling Approach" (published in Fire Safety Journal). And Dr Claire Belcher was short-listed in Climate Change Risk for her paper "Increased fire activity at the Triassic/Jurassic boundary in Greenland due to climate-driven floral change" (published in Nature Geoscience).

The University is one of 13 partners collaborating on a three year, EU FP7 funded research project on Aircraft Fire Safety. The 'kick-off' meeting was in Poitiers, France, in January 2010.

On Nov 2010 Dr Guillermo Rein was interviewed by Scottish TV about a recent research paper published in Fire Safety Journal on "Forecasting Fire Growth". On the same day he was interviewed for BBC Radio and newspaper The Scotsman.

The Royal Society of Edinburgh has awarded a JM Lessells Scholarship Award to the fire group PhD student Holly Smith. She will spend two months at the Department of Civil Engineering, Queen’s University, Kingston, Canada and work on shear failure of concrete structures during fire.

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