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2015 SFPE North American Conference & Expo Marks SFPE’s 65th Anniversary
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2015 SFPE North American Conference & Expo Marks SFPE’s 65th Anniversary

Fire Protection Engineering

While SFPE’s annual Conference & Expo is always a must-attend event, this year’s conference holds special distinction: 2015 marks SFPE’s 65th anniversary. In 1950, a group of fire protection engineers banded together and established SFPE as a component of NFPA. Sixty-five years later, SFPE has grown to be a thriving independent association made up of more than 4,000 members across more than 80 countries, all of whom are actively working towards SFPE’s vision of being the leaders in engineering a fire safe world. What better venue to celebrate the shared achievements of the past 65 years than the SFPE Conference & Expo taking place November 8-13, 2015, in Philadelphia, PA?

Each year, the SFPE Conference & Expo offers the unparalleled opportunity for fire protection engineers and fire safety engineers to come together to learn about new methods, technologies, and best practices from experts in the field. This year’s program, spearheaded by Conference program co-chairs Michael J. Madden, P.E., FSFPE, SFPE president, and Michael Venneri, P.E., president of the Philadelphia-Delaware Valley SFPE Chapter, is no exception. The program boasts educational sessions led by experts in the field across three tracks: Fire Protection Systems, Fire Safety in Buildings and Fire Safety Engineering. A complete program of the educational sessions, social events and other information about the 2015 SFPE North American Conference & Expo is available on the SFPE website at Here is a brief overview of the educational sessions this year’s Conference & Expo will include.

The conference kicks off on Sunday, November 8, with a chapter leadership forum in the morning and the annual business meeting of the Society later that afternoon. After the business meeting, if you’re looking to make new connections, network with peers or explore business opportunities, you won’t want to miss the popular Speed Networking event followed by the President’s Welcome Reception and Expo Opening.

On Monday, November 9, the morning’s general session will include a presentation on "The Legacy of SFPE” by David A. Lucht, P.E., FSFPE, professor & director emeritus, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, and Peter Lund, CAE, the first executive director of SFPE. Following that will be a session on ethics in the profession led by Arthur Schwartz, deputy executive director and general counsel, National Society of Professional Engineers. Monday morning’s sessions across the three aforementioned tracks will address Fire Alarm, Fire Service, and Fire Modeling, respectively. Some of the sessions included in Monday morning’s track include:

  • Key Changes to the 2016 Edition of NFPA 72
  • Fire Service Features of Buildings and Fire Protection Systems
  • Effects of FDS Mesh Resolution on Growth Phase Smoke Production
  • Understanding the Meaning of Intelligibility—Are You Abdicating Your Design Responsibilities?
  • Emergency Responders Radio Coverage Systems (ERRCS)— Understanding 2012 IBC/IFC and 2013 NFPA 72 and NFPA 5000 Code Requirements from the Enforcement Perspective
  • The Design Fire: Selecting Fire Characteristics for a CFD Model
  • Separate Audible Notification Zones and Phased Evacuations: Jurisdictional Approach and Public Education
  • Characterizing a Firefighter’s Immediate Thermal Environment in Live-Fire Training Scenarios
  • Understanding Wall and Corner Effects Using the Fire Dynamics Simulator

Monday afternoon’s sessions will focus on Special Hazards, Human Behavior, and Case Studies.

Presentations will include:

  • Preventing Cell-to-Cell Thermal Runaway in Li-ion Battery Packs by Means of Fluid Immersion
  • Differences in Evacuation Responses from Word Choice
  • Moving Target: A Case Study in Providing Fire Protection Below a Reconfigurable Concert Hall Seating System- Part 1 Concept Design
  • Natural Ventilation —A Green Smoke Control Approach
  • Biomechanical Characterization of Persons with Movement Disorders during Simulated Evacuations
  • A Case Study in Providing Fire Protection below a Reconfigurable Concert Hall Seating System —Part 2 Final Design and Installation
  • Condensed Aerosol Fire Extinguishing Systems
  • Human Perception of Exit Signs during Building Evacuations
  • San Francisco Museum of Modern Art: A Case Study in Atrium Smoke Control Design

Monday’s educational sessions will conclude with a general session addressing the following topics:

  • Freedom to Design: How Much Freedom Is There in Today’s FPE Environment?
  • Deconstructing the Zone Fire Model CFAST
  • The Lac Mégantic Crude Oil Railcar Incident—A Worst Case Scenario

Monday’s program will conclude with recognition of the 2015 SFPE Fellows followed by a Fellow’s Reception.

Tuesday morning’s general session will feature a presentation on "Overcoming Cultural Differences in the Practice of Fire Protection Engineering” by Daniel Bak, Ph.D., P.E., FSE, senior forensic fire engineer, Scientific Expert Analysis Limited, an overview of Vision 20/20 by Jim Crawford, project manager, Vision 20/20, and an overview of "Performance-Based Design in Latin America—How Feasible It Is” by Jaime Moncada, P.E., general director, International Fire Safety Consulting. Tuesday morning’s educational sessions will address Water-Based Fire Protection Systems, Applications of Fire Safety in Buildings, and Applications in Fire Safety Engineering. Some of the sessions included in Tuesday morning’s track include:

  • Challenges of Firewater Pump Installations in Shallow Waters
  • Impact of Smoke Compartment Size on Horizontal Evacuation Time in Healthcare Facilities
  • Fire Safety Engineering CFD Simulations Applied to Industrial Plants
  • Use of Antifreeze Solutions in Fire Protection Systems
  • Challenges in Commissioning and Testing of Fire Protection & Life Safety Systems in New Projects
  • Discussion of the Potential to Integrate Fire Performance into Multi-Objective Optimization Routines for Holistic Building Design
  • Fire Protection Engineering of Standpipes for Bridges
  • Current State of Rooftop Solar
  • Equivalency: It Is Not That Simple

A highlight of Tuesday’s program will be the Awards Luncheon honoring the 2015 award recipients of the Society and the SFPE Foundation.

Tuesday afternoon’s educational sessions will include topics on Water-Based Fire Protection Systems, Applications of Fire Protection Systems, Passive Fire Protection in Buildings, and Methodologies in Fire Safety Engineering, including the following presentations:

  • Sustainable Fire Protection Water Supply for the Smithsonian SERC Facility
  • Fire Performance of Hybrid Connections
  • Systems Safety Approach to Evaluating of Fire Risk Assessments
  • The Value of Total Building Solutions
  • A New Fire Performance Test for Cavity Wall Insulation
  • Tool for Vulnerability Analyses and Fire Safety in Hospitals
  • Automatic Intensive Warehouse Fire Suppression System Modeled Using Fire Safety Engineering CFD Simulation with Automatic Targeting Water Monitors
  • A Fire Protection Engineering Nightmare: Fire Barriers
  • Radiative Heat Flux Calculations for Complex Geometries

Tuesday’s educational sessions will conclude with an afternoon general session highlighting the SFPE Foundation. April Leyla Hammond, FSFPE, chair of the SFPE Foundation, and Tom Gray, P.E., FSFPE, vice chair of the SFPE Foundation, will highlight the important research contributions the Foundation supports, and winners of the 2015 Arthur B. Guise Medal, Jack Bono Award, Student Scholar Award, Chief Donald J. Burns Memorial Research Grant, and the recipient of the Dr. Guylène Proulx, OC Scholarship will each present highlights of their projects. For more information about the SFPE Foundation or to make a tax-deductible donation, visit

Tuesday will conclude with a Dine Around Town event that will offer attendees the opportunity to enjoy some of Philadelphia’s local culinary hot spots while networking with peers in an informal setting.

The week will conclude with Continuing Education Seminars Wednesday, November 11, through Friday, November 13.

We hope you’ll join us for what promises to be a fitting celebration of SFPE’s 65th anniversary at the 2015 SFPE North American Conference & Expo in Philadelphia, PA. Be sure to visit for full details about the event and to register.

We’ll see you in Philly!

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