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SFPE Foundation announces Grand Challenges Initiative


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The SFPE Foundation, a charitable organisation focused on enhancing the scientific understanding of fire and its interaction with the natural and built environment, is pleased to kickoff its Grand Challenges Initiative with an invitation to its Virtual Summit on April 26-28, 2022

The SFPE Foundation’s Grand Challenges Initiative aims to identify global challenges and develop a collaborative research and educational framework on how fire safety science and fire protection engineering can be a part of the solutions.  The Virtual Summit is free for participants and will include four half-day sessions for individuals from throughout the fire protection industry, academia, government, non-profit organisations, and beyond, to draw on their collective creativity and real-world experience to envision how the fire engineering professionals can contribute to tackling the grand, global challenges that communities around the world face.

“We know that fire scientists and fire protection engineers have the insight and knowledge to contribute solutions to some of society’s grand challenges, like energy, infrastructure, resilience, sustainability, climate change, digitisation, artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, and more,” stated Leslie Marshall, Ph.D., Director, SFPE Foundation.  “Through the SFPE Foundation’s Grand Challenges Initiative, we will engage with a diverse group of participants to define the path that will take us from where we are now, to where we want to be in five, ten, twenty years, and beyond.  I extend a warm invitation to students, professionals, experts, and organisations to join us as we kickoff this transformational initiative.”

The SFPE Foundation’s Grand Challenges Initiative is envisioned as a multi-year program with opportunities throughout for sharing expertise, engaging with new audiences and collaborators, reporting on progress, and providing feedback.  It also includes a new opportunity for advanced graduate students through research fellowships. The Grand Challenges Initiative is being administered through generous funding and support from industry/corporate partners, foundations, individuals, SFPE, and the SFPE Foundation – with opportunities available to become a founding partner.  The existing research roadmap developed by the Society of Fire Protection Engineers will serve as a guide and key reference document.

“Addressing the complex and significant fire safety challenges facing communities around the world takes a collaborative effort. We are proud to support the Grand Challenges Initiative and urge others in the research and education communities to participate in developing a strategy for action,” stated Steve Kerber, Vice President and Executive Director, Fire Safety Research Institute, a founding partner of the Grand Challenges Initiative. 

For additional information about the Grand Challenges Initiative or to register for the Virtual Summit, visit the SFPE Foundation website at

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