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Saturday, September 29, 2012

Fancy being the Head of School of Engineering at The University of Edinburgh?

A Fire Safety Engineer as Head of an Engineering School?

The University is now seeking to appoint a new Head of School. Candidates for this position will be expected to demonstrate leadership and management of the highest calibre, an international research reputation and a commitment to maximising the quality and effectiveness of teaching. All research areas will be considered, including Fire Safety Engineering. Candidates will be able to demonstrate excellent ambassadorial and interpersonal qualities and a record of developing and strengthening relationships with industry and peer institutions, as well as leading a large team of academic and professional support staff. Additional information below.

Appointment of the Head of the School of Engineering

The University of Edinburgh School of Engineering supports world-class excellence in research and teaching. The School was ranked third (in General Engineering) in the UK (Research Fortnight RAE 2008 Analysis Power Rankings) in the last UK Research Assessment Exercise (2008) and has a strong track record in producing technology spin outs and developing industry links that enable our graduates to build relationships that last a whole career. The College of Science & Engineering, of which the School forms a part, is one of the largest science and engineering groupings in the UK.

Recent investment includes a £6.5 million Industrial Doctorate Centre in Offshore Renewable Energy, led by the University of Edinburgh that will train 50 engineering doctorate students over nine years in all aspects of Offshore Renewable Energy. The University's leadership in low-carbon energy has been further enhanced through £9 million investment on the UK All-Waters Combined Current and Wave test facility for wave and tidal devices. The £12.5m UK CCS Research Centre (UKCCSRC, )  is a virtual hub that brings together leading 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 School is also a founder member of the Engineering 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 University of Edinburgh aims to ensure equality of opportunity and holds an Athena SWAN bronze award.

For further information including details and information on how to apply, go on-line at 

New Lectureship in Fire Dynamics!

We're very pleased to let you know that to continue its policy of investment in ouststanding research and teaching in the area of Fire Safety, the BRE Centre for Fire Safety Engineering is seeking to appoint a high calibre individual in the area of FIRE DYNAMICS or COMBUSTION at either Lecturer (Grade UE08) or Senior Lecturer (Grade UE09). This appointment is a full time continuing post (subject to satisfactory review after a 3 year probationary period).

This Lectureship is one of up to 10 positions currently being advertized across the School of Engineering at Edinburgh, and this dedicated position in the area of Fire Dynamics or Combustion is directed specifically to support the activities of the world-class BRE Centre for Fire Safety Engineering.

Full details of the position are given at the following link:

The BRE Centre for Fire Safety Engineering (BRE CFSE) at the University of Edinburgh (UoE) is among the most successful and productive research centres within the School of Engineering at Edinburgh. The BRE CFSE currently encompasses 7 academic staff and more than 30 PhD students and post-doctoral researchers. We develop a wide array of projects in the area of Fire Safety that range from structural performance to fire dynamics to material flammability. The Centre has created many vehicles for the dissemination of research as well as numerous links with industry. The Centre includes a state of the art small scale fire research facility, in-house capability for non-standard structural fire
testing, access to BRE’s large scale fire testing facilities, the only UK based Structural Fire Engineering degrees, and a joint international masters degree with world-leading partners at the Universities of Lund and Ghent.

Informal enquiries regarding the advertized post can be made to Dr
Luke Bisby, via email:

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Professor / Assistant Prof job in Fire Safety Engineering in Finland

Aalto University, Finland, announces the professorship in Fire Safety Engineering in the Department of Civil and Structural Engineering. The announcement can be found in:
The application deadline is November 16, 2012.

The post is open from Assistant to Full Professor level, covering the area from young Research Scientists to more experienced Research fellows and Professors.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Through an Architect's Eyes

Fire engineers often work closely with architects to try and incorporate fire safety systems & processes into the design process from an early stage. Ultimately it is the designers, not the fire engineers, who will change and improve the building’s design. It seems strange therefore that there would not be a single fire safety engineer working in an architecture practice, anywhere in the world. The role just did not exist.
Well, not until this year.
For the past 8 months one member of the BRE Centre for Fire Safety Engineering at the University of Edinburgh worked at Foster +Partners to help designers create fundamentally fire safe buildings. This unique experience was one of several progressive ideas conceived at the 2011 LRET Conference in Edinburgh and is the latest collaborative initiative between Foster + Partners and the BRE Centre for Fire Safety Engineering.
It was initially thought that the Fire Engineer employed in this role would solve fire safety problems for the design team (including architects and engineers). After all that’s what engineers do: solve problems. In fact the individual working at F+P would solve very few fire problems and would do very little ‘engineering’. The ‘In-House Fire Safety Engineer’ would become known as the ‘Fire Safety Advisor’ or more simply, the ‘Fire Guy’.
The reason for the change was simple. If specific fire safety problems were outsourced to a fire engineer – even an in-house one – the lack of integration would mean architects would have to compromise on other parts of the design for the fire strategy to work.
The Fire Guy needed to have three roles, not one, of which engineering was the third and last. The three roles would be:
1) To identify and define problems using fundamental assumptions only i.e. assumptions that remain valid irrespective of the context in which they are applied. Re-defining and explaining why each problem was indeed a problem improved designers’ understanding of the criteria they should aim to achieve, and significantly expanded the range of choices available to them.
F+P designers and engineers previously defined problems purely in terms of code compliance – which was logical in the absence of specialist fire safety knowledge. If a design did not comply with the codes, it was a fire safety problem. However, due to the irregular nature of the structures being designed, the assumptions on which the codes were based were not always valid; a prescriptive solution intended for a 3m-high ceiling would not deliver the same performance if applied to a ceiling 17m high and angled at 70°. Therefore a problem defined purely on the basis of code-compliance was not necessarily a fire safety problem.

2) The second role, once the architects had gained a clear understanding of the fire safety aims, was to give designers the opportunity to achieve the aims autonomously. Architects have to consider every variable associated with the design of a building, including aesthetics, functionality, cost, environmental sustainability, structural integrity, M&E serviceability and code compliance among a plethora of other variables, all of which must be integrated if the building’s design is to be optimised. Once the architects knew what they were trying to achieve, they were able to create some extraordinarily innovative solutions to solve fire safety problems, all of which were optimised for their unique building.
Architects lacked confidence in their own ability to create fire safe solutions and would yield to the recommendations of fire safety ‘experts’ often despite knowing that their own solutions made sense conceptually. The fire safety advisor was able to assess and criticise solutions put forward by both the architects and fire experts to establish which one would be the most effective. In many cases it was the solution put forward by the architects but in either case the discussion led to increased understanding of the issues involved and greater confidence in the chosen solution.

3) The third and final role of a fire safety advisor was to create a fire-safe solution and ‘prove’ its effectiveness. In reality this rarely happened. Reviewing drawings and producing fire safe designs was easy; doing it in a way that would create a fully optimised building design was not. A fire safety engineer has just one variable to work with, and has the luxury to choose from literally thousands of possible solutions. The architect meanwhile must iterate the building’s design and compromise between variables, eventually reaching a fully optimised solution. The in-house fire safety advisor was only asked to create solutions if/when the architects were unable to produce viable solutions of their own. This happened just once during the entire 8-month period at Foster + Partners.

The experience demonstrated the potential for a new role in fire safety; one where a fire safety advisor works directly for an architecture practice to help incorporate fire safety systems & processes into the building’s design. In hindsight it is rather unsurprising that it has taken this long to create such a role. It requires specialist education that, at the moment, cannot be obtained anywhere in the world.

Perhaps someday someone will create such an education system…

Thursday, September 13, 2012

BRE Centre PhD grads continue to excel...

A nice little story on one of our nicest (and brightest) graduates...

Click for PDF

Monday, September 03, 2012

Be an International Master of Fire Safety Engineering - Apply now for 2013

The International Masters in Fire Safety Engineering (IMFSE) programme, a two year postgraduate degree offered jointly by the Universities of Edinburgh (UK), Lund (Sweden) and Ghent (Belgium), has been running for two years now and the first cohort of students recently graduated. 

The IMFSE accepts new students every year. 

Applications for the following academic year open in September and close in January. Apply now for places in the 2013-15 class.

For specific application deadlines, updated admission requirements and other practical information, visit our website at