The SFPE Educational and Scientific Foundation
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From the Technical Director
The SFPE Educational and Scientific Foundation

By Morgan J. Hurley, P.E., FSFPE  | Fire Protection Engineering

The SFPE Educational and Scientific Foundation

The SFPE Educational and Scientific Foundation is the charitable arm of the Society of Fire Protection Engineers. Registered as a charitable (501(c)(3)) organization in 1979 in the United States, the Educational and Scientific Foundation was created to:

  • Receive and administer funds for scientific, educational and charitable purposes
  • Support and encourage scientific research and education relative to improving the safety of life and property from fire

The bulk of the Foundations grants have supported student research. This type of support fulfills both the educational and scientific purposes of the Foundation. However, the Foundation has also supported work by practicing professionals - generally in the form of financial incentives to write fire protection engineering textbooks.

The Foundation has supported more than 25 student research projects at 13 universities in six different countries. These have included graduate research that was conducted as part of masters thesis or doctoral dissertation work. Several of the students whose work was supported by the Foundation subsequently accepted teaching positions at universities that have academic programs in fire protection engineering. By funding this work, the Foundation has helped create the professors that will educate the next generation of fire protection engineers.

The Foundation has also supported development of reference books that are used in the fire protection engineering profession. These have included Babrauskas Ignition Handbook, which is arguably the most comprehensive reference on a single subject in the fire protection literature. The Foundation has also supported Yungs Principles of Fire Risk Assessment in Buildings and Quintieres Fundamentals of Fire Phenomena.

One of the greatest challenges facing the fire protection engineering profession is the small number of academic institutions that offer formal degree programs in the discipline.The Foundation has recognized the value of the budding fire protection engineering program at California Polytechnic State University, and has provided direct financial support.

The Foundation also funds a monetary award for the best paper published each year in the Journal of Fire Protection Engineering. Recently, the Foundation has begun sponsoring an annual Student Scholar award, which provides an honorarium and opportunity to present exemplary student research at the SFPE Annual Meeting. The Foundation has also supported development of a collection of heritage documents - these are key publications that provided the underpinning of the fire protection engineering profession. (The heritage documents are freely available to SFPE members on the SFPE website.)

Collectively, the Foundations support of student research and the development of reference books have helped to advance the fire protection engineering profession. In the process, the Foundation has also provided valuable financial support to students.

However, despite the valuable support that the Foundation has provided, most SFPE members are unaware of the Foundations work. A survey conducted earlier this year showed that a majority (54%) of SFPE members were unaware that the Foundation existed. Accordingly, only 15% of SFPE members have ever contributed to the Foundation.

The Foundations funding has generally come from three sources: contributions from SFPE members, contributions from SFPE chapters and contributions from corporate sources. The annual dues invoice that SFPE members receive has a line for voluntary contributions to the Foundation. Chapters that wish to support the Foundation are given the opportunity to present their contributions in front of their peers during SFPEs Senate meeting, which is held during the Annual Meeting in October. Anyone can contribute to the Foundation at any time via the SFPE website. Doing so helps sustain the goals of the Foundation and supports the long-term viability of the profession.

Morgan J. Hurley, P.E., FSFPE
Technical Director
Society of Fire Protection Engineers

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