Ongoing Research

Integration of Fire Protection Systems in Building Information Modeling

The SFPE Foundation, a charitable organization focused on enhancing the scientific understanding of fire and its interaction with the social, natural, and built environments, announces the funding of research into integration of Building Information Modeling (BIM) for the design, verification, and maintenance of proper fire protection systems in buildings. The research will be led by Principal Investigator Stephen Roth, PE, President and Chief Technology Officer at Carmelsoft.

The primary objective of the research is to identify opportunities to update and develop new fire protection engineering data repositories that are available to all interested parties, while also identifying interoperability requirements that will help more fire protection engineering software tools better integrate with BIM. In addition, the research aims to identify opportunities for improved toolsets and workflows that integrate with BIM, with the end goal of making it easier for all stakeholders to design, verify, and maintain proper fire safety systems in buildings. View the press release.

The project contributes to the Building Fires and Fire Service threads of the SFPE Research Roadmap.

Engineering Science for the Fire Service: Developing a WUI Risk Assessment & Mitigation Curriculum

The  recently received a FEMA Fire Prevention & Safety Grant (FY2021) to develop an engineering science-based educational curriculum for fire service personnel that helps address unmet training needs with respect to Wildland-Urban Interface (WUI) fire risk assessment and mitigation. Fire protection engineers can offer educational tools and resources to help support fire departments in the field. These tools can be applied across the spectrum of WUI fire hazards – in areas like individual asset protection, community evacuation and notification, and community-level wildfire protection and mitigation. This project will assess fire department training needs in WUI fire property risk assessment and mitigation strategies that can be addressed with engineering-based resources and guidance, document best practices, develop an engineering-based curriculum for firefighters conducting WUI property risk assessment and developing mitigation strategies, and illustrate how the curriculum can reduce risk by addressing unmet training needs for a wide range of departments.

The aim of this project is to develop a classroom-based training curriculum (including courses, course content, delivery methodology, and learning assessment) that introduces fire service personnel to engineering-based guidance and tools that can provide more nuanced guidance to fire departments conducting WUI property fire risk assessment and mitigation activities, especially in areas where existing codes, regulations, or tools are not locally contextualized. The curriculum is expected to cover the engineering science behind the risks associated with different asset and community configurations, structural components, configurations, and other features of the built environment in the WUI so that fire departments can adapt their approaches to better meet local needs. The curriculum will be designed to address unmet training needs for a wide range of departments – regardless of their size or prior experience with WUI fires – and will empower them to adapt available resources to their own needs and thereby reduce risk in their communities.

A project team from the Mid-Atlantic Center for Emergency Management & Public Safety at Frederick Community College and FireTox LLC was selected for this project. View the press release.

This project will contribute to the Foundation’s research portfolio in the SFPE Research Roadmap threads of Building Fires, Fire Service, Fire Safety Systems, and Wildland/WUI Fires.

Risk and Performance Assessment Framework for Sustainable and Fire Resilient Buildings

This project aims to lay the groundwork for the future development of a wide range of risk-informed performance-based tools for the assessment of sustainable and fire resilient buildings. This involves characterizing the problem, researching and identifying appropriate assessment methods, identifying necessary attributes and requirements for input data, and developing a framework to underpin a risk-informed performance-based assessment methodology. The framework for the methodology will be informed by recognized and accepted risk and decision assessment approaches. Any underpinning methodology is expected to make use of readily available data and incorporate qualitative and/or semi-quantitative methods for the treatment of uncertainty, characterization of risk, and weighting of decision variables. The application of the framework will identify areas of risk to be mitigated based on performance expectations and design variables. In May of 2022, the Foundation granted an award to Dr. Brian J. Meacham (Meacham Associates, USA) and Professor Håkan Frantzich and Professor Margaret McNamee, (both from the Division of Fire Safety Engineering, Lund University, Sweden) to conduct this study. The project will kick off in September 2022. The findings of the study are expected to be published and presented at the SFPE Annual Conference and Expo in October 2023.

This project will contribute to the Foundation’s research portfolio in the SFPE Research Roadmap threads of Building Fires and Resilience/Sustainability.

See also our press release on this project.

Beyond the Checklist – A Virtual Handbook of Engineering Resources for WUI Property Fire Risk Assessment and Mitigation

The aim of this project is to develop a virtual handbook of engineering-based resource materials to support fire department WUI property fire risk assessments and recommended mitigation strategies for use in the field. Following the December 2021 kick-off workshop, the tool is currently in development and will be piloted and evaluated in cooperation with select fire departments in the US. A project team from Jensen Hughes, led by Darlene Rini, P.E., was selected for this project. The project is supported by an Advisory Panel composed of fire engineers, fire service personnel, and members of SFPE’s Fire Service Subcommittee. Project completion is expected later in 2022.

This project contributes to the Building Fires, Fire Service, Fire Safety Systems, and Wildland/WUI Fires threads of the SFPE Research Roadmap.

Disclaimer: This program is made possible with federal funding support from the Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Fire Prevention & Safety Grant Program (FY 2020).