It’s been 40 years since the SFPE established its Educational and Scientific Foundation. For years, the Foundation has been known for the scholarships, awards and other honors it bestows upon students and professionals in the field of fire protection engineering. But on its 40th anniversary, the Foundation is embarking on an ambitious new strategic plan; designed to support SFPE’s mission to reduce fire risk by defining, developing and advancing the use of engineering best practices, expanding the scientific and technical knowledge base and educating the global fire safety community. We need your participation and support to realize this plan.
In 2016, the SFPE released an extensive roadmap identifying future research needs for the profession of fire protection engineering. A core principle of the Foundation’s strategic plan is to support research to implement this roadmap. In 2019, the Foundation funded the first series of projects towards developing a database of people movement speeds and characteristics, understanding the biomechanics of people movement, updating the current knowledge base in the SFPE Handbook of movement speeds, and establishing dynamic methodologies for occupant load determination. We are exceptionally pleased with the international collaboration and the value proposition introduced by the successful proponents. This is the largest funding of research/project initiatives in Foundation history. We owe our thanks to multiple corporate visionaries who became sponsors, as well as to our numerous chapters and committed members of the SFPE. We’re here to serve the needs of the profession and our sponsors and donors are instrumental to our collective current and future ability to identify and contribute to the global changes in the field. Results will be made available through SFPE via publications and conference presentations and also posted on our website.
As the Foundation moves in the direction of funding more research projects, leaders are also considering how best to engage students, beyond its traditional scholarship model. In 2019, the Foundation stimulated research and international fire community participation by partially funding several students from the U.S. and Canada to attend a global fire safety school in Chile. Looking forward, we’re going to continue to seek alternative paths for student support and it is hopeful that respondents to our general proposal calls will also include students, interns or co-ops as part of their teams. We want the industry to readily engage our youth and in doing so, assist in building lasting and continued advancement of the profession.
In the next few years, the Foundation plans to develop an ambitious series of research projects designed to initiate a new era of engineering tools and methods, aligning with pertinent societal issues and in turn continuing to enhance the relevance and legitimacy of the profession. Each aspect of the research identified through the roadmap has a story to tell in the form of need, value, and benefit to society. We hope to tell these stories and, in turn, work with other agencies and foundations to achieve integrated societal benefits in many areas of mutual interest (e.g. sustainability, wildland fires, emerging hazards). Work is already underway to fund several projects in 2020, so watch your email for announcements!
It’s an exciting time for the fire protection engineering profession and the Foundation. The Foundation’s ambitious plan can’t be implemented without substantial growth in our financial resources. New funding sources, and new collaborations with other organizations are being sought and SFPE itself, recognizing the role of the Foundation in implementing the Society’s technical vision, has substantially increased its support. But we need your help - we ask every member to consider making a financial contribution to this program.
An investment in the SFPE Foundation is an investment in the future of your profession.
Peter Senez, Chair
SFPE Foundation Board of Governors