SFPE Foundation funds three new fire safety research projects


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The SFPE Foundation has announced the awarding of three research grants, supporting studies on Li-Ion Battery Energy Storage System (BESS) fires, fire testing of resilient and sustainable building materials, and the interface between digital buildings and fire service operations.

This funding aligns with the Grand Challenges Initiative research agenda, aiming to enhance scientific understanding of fire and its interactions.

Understanding Li-Ion BESS fires

The first project, led by Jamie McAllister (PhD, PE) of FireTox LLC, with team members Brandon McCarrick (PE) and Zelda Zhao, focuses on the environmental and health impacts of thermal runaway events in outdoor lithium-ion BESS installations.

The project aims to understand the health and environmental aspects of li-ion BESS fires, including products of combustion, factors influencing propagation, and firefighting tactics.

The team plans to develop a risk analysis of the health and environmental impacts of such fires.

Fire testing of building materials

The second project, under the leadership of Prof. Richard Walls (PhD, MSc, BScEng, GDE, BTh, PrEng) of Stellenbosch University, along with Dr. Natalia Flores-Quiroz, Yohannes Shewalul, and Carlo Kuhn of Ignis Testing, aims to identify sustainable building materials used in construction and their fire testing methods.

This study seeks to address potential fire risks not covered in existing testing methods through further experimental fire testing.

Digital buildings and fire service operations

The third project, led by Dr. Nils Johansson of Lund University, with Dr. Enrico Ronchi and Dr. Katelynn Kapalo, focuses on the flow of digital information from smart buildings to the fire service.

It aims to optimise this flow and integrate data from Smart Firefighting tools for use by incident commanders.

Leslie Marshall, PhD, Director of the SFPE Foundation, expressed enthusiasm for the projects: “We are thrilled that the funding made possible through the Grand Challenges Initiative has enabled us to support not just two, but three exceptional research projects.

“Each project and its dedicated team promise to bring invaluable results and advance the 10-year plan outlined in the GCI white papers.”

The Grand Challenges Initiative, supported by SFPE, Fire Safety Research Institute/UL Research Institutes, Code Red Consultants, FM Global, Harrington Group, Jensen Hughes, and other partners, focuses on pressing global challenges where fire safety science and engineering can contribute to discussions and solutions.

IFSJ Comment

The SFPE Foundation’s funding of these three research projects marks a significant step in addressing key challenges in fire safety engineering and science.

The selected projects cover a wide range of topics, from the environmental and health impacts of Li-Ion BESS fires to the integration of digital technology in fire service operations.

These studies reflect a growing need to understand and mitigate fire risks in a rapidly evolving technological landscape, where traditional fire safety measures may not always apply.

The outcomes of this research will contribute to the scientific community and have practical implications for fire safety professionals, policymakers, and the general public.

By focusing on both the immediate and long-term impacts of fire, the SFPE Foundation demonstrates a comprehensive approach to enhancing fire safety and prevention strategies globally.

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