Current Research


Anthropomorphic Data and Movement Speeds

Principal Investigator: Dr. John Gales, York University

The Research Problem

The standard analyses of life safety in buildings and transportation systems use simple uniform flow rates and walking speeds to calculate evacuation times which do not reflect the increasing proportions of elderly, obese and mobility impaired in our society. To address this issue, many research organizations have conducted project specific movement studies, some of which are tabulated in the recent SFPE Handbook of Fire Protection Engineering. However, these data sets often lack a common structure and are difficult to use as a resource.

The Project

York University, Canada, is leading a collaborative multi- institutional effort, including Arup and LUND University, Sweden, aiming to compile and organize contemporary, project specific, movement speeds from existing published and unpublished data sets from industry and academic partners globally, with special considerations for accessibility, upwards/downwards movement, etc.). The project will also study the underlying fundamental individual characteristics of movement to set the stage for future improvements in data collection.

The Goal

In addition to a report which will include tables of new and legacy data, the project output will also include the development of an online portal and connected database to store the data which will be accessible by SFPE members. The project goal is a living database which can easily be updated and supported on the SFPE web infrastructure.

The Timeframe

The Project is scheduled for completion in early 2020; results will be presented at the SFPE Performance based design conference in Auckland, New Zealand, September 9, 10, 2020.

Modern Vehicle Hazards in Parking Garages and Vehicle Carriers

Principal Investigator: Combustion Science and Engineering, Inc.

The Research Problem

Modern vehicles present new fire hazards, including increased combustible content and alternative fuels. Modern parking garages have optimized space requirements for vehicle parking and storage and often implement automated retrieval features and car stacking, which presents unique hazards as well. The goal of this project is to quantify the fire hazard of modern vehicles in parking structures and vehicle carriers to provide guidance for standards and fire safety design of these structures.

The Project

The SFPE Foundation is sponsoring this early initiative that will be led by the NFPA Fire Protection Research Foundation and completed by June 2020. The project directly aligns with the SFPE Research Roadmap and the FPE profession’s need to understand and respond to emerging hazards. The SFPE Foundation anticipates the project will provide early performance-based knowledge to assist the FPE in evaluating design considerations and codes with a potential focus on risk, egress, detection and suppression. The project is likely to identify further needs that FPEs will need to address as the complexities of vehicle fires are better understood. The project consists of four components:

  • A review of the literature to assess fire incidents, current fire protection requirements, and industry trends in parking structures and vehicle (eg marine) carriers.
  • A hazard assessment of modern vehicles in the context of parking structures, and bench-marked against traditional vehicle and fueling systems.
  • Based on the above information, an assessment of existing fire protection design criteria with a focus on sprinkler protection.
  • Identify gaps in information needed to provide technical guidance to inform appropriate design criteria.

The Timeline

The project is scheduled for complete in June of 2020.