FPE, UL and International Fire Safety Consortium Collaborate to Address Global Fire Safety Challenges

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From left to right: Drs. Arnaud Trouve (UMD), Graham Spinardi (University of Edinburgh), Michael Gollner (UC Berkeley), Stas Stoliarov (UMD), Margaret McNamee (Lund University), David Lange (University of Queensland), Tuan Ngo (University of Melbourne) and Rory Hadden (University of Edinburgh).

The University of Maryland (UMD) Department of Fire Protection Engineering (FPE) in collaboration with the International Fire Safety Consortium (IFSC) and Underwriters Laboratories (UL) are working to address unresolved fire safety problems worldwide by advancing fire safety engineering and scientific research, while encouraging information exchange and facilitating global collaboration.

Fires result in hundreds of thousands of deaths each year with financial losses estimated between 1-2% of global Gross Domestic Product (GDP), a total of approximately $76 billion USD worldwide. Due to pivotal trends in global urbanization, social inequality, climate change and human migration, the need to address fire safety as a humanitarian issue has grown increasingly urgent. As a result of these trends, combined with substantial worldwide growth of wildland-urban interface (WUI), fire-related damage to structures and other economic losses are worsening and predicted to increase, as they have recently in the Western U.S. The large scale of these problems and the increasing societal costs require greater coordinated expertise, public-partnerships, and concerted multidisciplinary research worldwide.

"The basic motivation here is the realization that fire problems are becoming more challenging and evolving even faster than the pace at which we are producing new knowledge and new technical expertise,” said Arnaud Trouvé, Fire Protection Engineering Professor at UMD. “The IFSC is an attempt to coordinate efforts between leading institutions in fire safety education and research in order to respond to that challenge. Our goal is to increase the number of members in order to reach a critical mass for impact at the global scale. We welcome UL with its long and impressive record in fire research as a new member of the IFSC network."

This latest venture, coordinated through the UMD Department of Fire Protection Engineering, will establish UL as a non-profit partner of the IFSC.

“This partnership is a key step in advancing our purpose to address the world’s unresolved fire safety risks and emerging dangers to reduce death, injury and loss from fire,” said Steve Kerber, UL Vice President of Research and UL Firefighter Safety Research Institute Director.

The IFSC – inspired by and facilitated through UMD’s Borderless Research Administration Knowledge Exchange (BRAKE) program – was launched in 2019 by the University of Maryland, University of Edinburgh, University of Melbourne, Lund University, and University of Queensland. All five of the founding partner universities are members of the Universitas 21 Global Network, a worldwide network of research-intensive universities that empowers its members to share excellence, collaborate across borders, and nurture global knowledge exchange, while engaging in research, education and training with industry, non-profit organizations and governments worldwide to tackle the most urgent and emerging fire safety issues. The IFSC has brought aboard additional academic research partners, including Ghent University as a means of expanding its partnership network.

“We are thrilled to establish this partnership with UL and our International Fire Safety Consortium, which aligns with our research mission to achieve broad societal impact through global collaborations that focus on critical challenges,” said UMD Vice President for Research, Laurie Locascio.

The IFSC brings expertise on a wide range of fire safety topics, including:

  • Fire Hazards (Wildland Fires, Wildland Urban Interface, Urban Fire Risks)
  • Fire Dynamics (Combustion and Flame Spread, Pyrolysis, Compartment Fire Dynamics / CFD, Material Performance)
  • Risk Assessment (Capability Assessment, Scenario Development, e.g.
    Cascading and Crowding, Fire Statistics, Vulnerability, Reliability)
  • Resilience and Sustainability (Environmental Impact of Fire, Affordable and Fire Safe Housing, Fire Safety in At-Risk Communities, e.g. Informal Settlements, Critical Infrastructure Assessment)
  • Fire Safety Engineering (Performance Based Design, Structural Fire Engineering, Building Systems, Suppression)
  • Human Behavior (Intelligent Egress, Arson)
  • Fire Fighting Activities (First Responders, Detection and Response, Suppression)
  • Social Aspects (Compliance, Regulations, Safety Inequality, Professionalism and Competency)

The FPE-IFSC-UL partnership seeks worldwide impact through basic and applied research addressing fundamental challenges related to fire science and fire protection engineering to help make communities safer. The partnership also seeks to help advance the fire safety profession through education and training to address critical societal problems.

If you would like to support the FPE International Fire Safety Consortium Fund, please follow this link to the giving page.

For more information, please contact Ted Knight at teknight@umd.edu

About Underwriters Laboratories

Underwriters Laboratories (UL) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing the UL public safety mission through the discovery and application of scientific knowledge. We conduct rigorous independent research and analyze safety data, convene experts worldwide to address risks, share knowledge through safety education and public outreach initiatives, and develop standards to guide safe commercialization of evolving technologies. We foster communities of safety, from grassroots initiatives for neighborhoods to summits of world leaders. Our organization employs collaborative and scientific approaches with partners and stakeholders to drive innovation and progress toward improving safety, security, and sustainability, ultimately enhancing societal well-being. To learn more, visit UL.org.

Related media:

FPE Launches the International Fire Safety Consortium, Feb 2020.

Published October 12, 2020