BY CHRIS JELENEWICZ, PE, FSFPE
Throughout the world, the SFPE Handbook of Fire Protection Engineering is known as the definitive resource for those practicing in the profession. It is regularly used by engineers, fire protection engineering students, and researchers, and it is an important resource for the development of the Principles and Practice of Engineering (PE) Fire Protection Exam. I can’t imagine where our profession would be today without all the dedicated volunteers who sacrificed their valuable time to produce the first five editions.
In 2016, the SFPE board of directors appointed a subcommittee to review the process used to publish the 5th edition and submit recommendations for the next edition. Specifically, the subcommittee was asked to make recommendations on how the book was distributed, the process that was used to publish it, and the content itself. The purpose of this review was to ensure the next edition would meet the future needs of the next generation of fire protection engineers.
As part of this process, the subcommittee solicited formal information by conducting a member survey, soliciting informal feedback through discussions and emails, and holding 10 meetings to review, discuss, and debate the wide-range of feedback obtained. Over 230 members participated in the member survey. At that time, it was interesting to note, the survey responses provided interesting insight on some of the previous assumptions that were held by the subcommittee during the early stages in developing the report. Based on that insight, the subcommittee adjusted their recommendations to include the perspectives of the larger population.
The full report was supported by the SFPE board of directors and can be found on the SFPE website (add link??). Specifically, the report included 15 recommendations related to format, editorial board roles, and content:
- Continue to provide both digital and print versions of the sixth edition.
- Review sales figures for printed copies, and complete a survey after the sixth edition printing to determine future demand for printed copies.
- Further explore an eBook option after the sixth edition printing.
- Continue the six- to seven-year frequency, publish once as a single multi-volume set, and consider reducing to two volumes.
- Consider an online subscription service offering.
- Suggest that chapter authors submit content in LaTeX, but note that submitting in Word will be acceptable
Development Role Recommendations:
- Appoint an editorial board charged with correlating and reviewing content between sections.
- Reinforce the role of the section editor with the following responsibilities:
Appoint deputy section editors to assist section editors.
Ask authors to develop a succession plan.
- Review and coordinate chapters and consolidate chapters with
overlapping or redundant content.
- Develop a consistent nomenclature.
- Develop consistent equation numbering.
Ask section editors and deputy section editors to review chapter content.
Develop an introductory user’s guide.
Organize an informal peer review process of the current 5th edition chapters of and provide comments to authors and editors for the 6th edition.
Consider incorporating content from SFPE engineering practice documents and Engineering Guides on a case-by-case basis.
Content from SFPE engineering standards should not be considered for inclusion in the Handbook; however, content related to new methodologies that are published by a standards-making committee should be published.
Moving forward, SFPE is in the final stages of selecting the editorial board that will implement these recommendations and develop the next edition. The editorial board is currently finalizing the outline for the new sections, and a call has gone out for SFPE members who are interested in reviewing existing chapters. I want to thank all of our dedicated members who participated in this process. It’s because of your efforts that the 6th edition of the SFPE Handbook of Fire Protection Engineering will carry on the traditions of the last five editions and meet the future needs of the next generation of fire protection engineers.