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Technical Areas

SFPE's Technical committees and task groups develop engineering guides, standards, and other technical initiatives of the Society. 

Technical Committee News

Members from SFPE ICC Working Group Make Presentation at ICC 2018 Annual Conference

Members from SFPEs ICC Working Group made a presentation on the topic of performance-based design at the International Code Council’s 2018 Annual Conference in Richmond, Virginia. The presenters included Gary Lewis from the City of Summit, NJ and Past SFPE President Ray Grill from ARUP.

 

The presentation was entitled Understanding Performance-Based Design: What Code Official’s Should (Need To?) Know. It focused on how performance-based design is an engineering approach to fire protection design or alternate methods in the International Building Code and how it is based on established fire safety objectives and functional statements, analysis of fire scenarios, and assessment of designs based on the objectives and functional statements. This presentation was tailored for the code official and provided an overview of the performance-based design review process, the role of the AHJ, and tools available to the code official.

 

The SFPE ICC Working Group plans on making this presentation available to the SFPE Chapters so it can be presented at a local level to code officials and AHJs. Additional information will be posted in this newsletter once it becomes available.

SFPE Subcommittee for Standards Oversight Appoints Two New Technical Document Task Group Chairs

The SFPE Subcommittee for Standards Oversight appointed Jim Quiter from Arup to chair of the SFPE Tall Building Task Group and Joshua Greene from Simpson, Gumpertz & Heger to Chair the SFPE Peer Review Task Group. Both task groups have been tasked with revising the current editions of the SFPE Engineering Guide to Fire Safety for Very Tall Buildings and the SFPE Guide for Peer Review in the Fire Protection Design Process.

 

Jim Quiter has more than 35 years of experience and leads the Arup’s consulting practice in Los Angeles. He is a licensed professional engineer in numerous states. Jim is an SFPE Fellow and Past SFPE President. He also chaired the task group that was responsible for drafting the first edition of the SFPE Engineering Guide to Fire Safety for Very Tall Buildings.

 

Josh Greene joined the fire protection engineering practice of Simpson Gumpertz & Heger in 2018 and serves as Associate Principal in its Waltham, MA office. Josh is licensed as a professional engineer in Massachusetts and Illinois. He also chairs SFPE NFPA Working Group.


SFPE Guide to Human Behavior in Fire, 2nd Edition Now Available

This single resource for the fire safety community distills the most relevant and useful science and research into a consensus-based guide whose key factors and considerations impact the response and behavior of occupants of a building during a fire event.

 

The Second Edition of SFPE's Engineering Guide: Human Behavior in Fire provides a common introduction to this field for the broad fire safety community: fire protection engineers/fire safety engineers, human behavior scientists/researchers, design professionals, and code authorities. The public benefits from consistent understanding of the factors that influence the responses and behaviors of people when threatened by fire and the application of reliable methodologies to evaluate and estimate human response in buildings and structures.

 

This Guide also aims to lessen the uncertainties in the "people components" of fire safety and allow for more refined analysis with less reliance on arbitrary safety factors. As with fire science in general, our knowledge of human behavior in fire is growing, but is still characterized by uncertainties that are traceable to both limitation in the science and unfamiliarity by the user communities. The concepts for development of evacuation scenarios for performance-based designs and the technical methods to estimate evacuation response are reviewed with consideration to the limitation and uncertainty of the methods. This Guide identifies both quantitative and qualitative information that constitutes important consideration prior to developing safety factors, exercising engineering judgment, and using evacuation models in the practical design of buildings and evacuation procedures. Besides updating material in the First Edition, this revision includes new information on:

  • Incapacitating Effects of Fire Effluent & Toxicity Analysis Methods
  • Occupant Behavior Scenarios
  • Movement Models and Behavioral Models
  • Egress Model Selection, Verification, and Validation
  • Estimation of Uncertainty and Use of Safety Factors
  • Enhancing Human Response to Emergencies & Notification of Messaging

The prediction of human behavior during a fire emergency is one of the most challenging areas of fire protection engineering. Yet, understanding and considering human factors is essential to designing effective evacuation systems, ensuring safety during a fire and related emergency events, and accurately reconstructing a fire.

The guide is available through Springer in hardcover format or as an e-book by going to https://www.springer.com/us/book/9783319946962.

 

SFPE Seeking Members for Peer Review Task Group

The SFPE Subcommittee for Standards Oversight has recently approved forming a new technical document task group that will be charged with revising the SFPE Guide for Peer Review in the Fire Protection Design Process (2009). This guide addresses the initiation, scope, conduct, and report of a peer review of a fire protection engineering design. A copy of this guide can be found at: https://cdn.ymaws.com/www.sfpe.org/resource/resmgr/Docs/Peer_Review_Guidelines_2009.pdf.

 

If you are interested in joining this task group, please send your CV to Engineering@sfpe.org.


SFPE Approved as an ANSI Standards Developer

Effective August 1, 2018, the ANSI Executive Standards Council (ExSC) has approved SFPE as an ANSI Accredited Standards Developer (ANSI-ASD).   Becoming an ANSI-ASD fulfills a major strategic initiative for SFPE.

ANSI’s mission is to promote and facilitate voluntary consensus standards and maintain the integrity of the process by which consensus is developed with respect to proposed American National Standards. As such, ANSI accredits the procedures of standards developers in accordance with the ANSI Essential Requirements: Due Process Requirements for American National Standards (www.ansi.org/essentialrequirements) and approves individual standards as American National Standards. ANSI’s oversight of the ANS process includes a series of checks-and-balances, including multiple public comment opportunities – related to accreditation issues and standards development, review of evidence of procedural compliance with respect to proposed ANS, annual compliance requirements, a periodic audit and a multi-level procedural appeals process. It should be noted, ANSI does not develop standards itself. Instead, ANSI accredits ASDs that develop standards. When SFPE becomes an ANSI-ASD, it may submit their standards to ANSI for approval as American National Standards. But at the same time, as an ANSI-ASD, SFPE may also produce guides and standards that are not submitted for approval for accreditation by ANSI.

Having SFPE standards referenced in the building and fire codes is an essential SFPE strategic organizational objective. From SFPEs perspective, since ANSI-ASDs conduct their work in a manner that is open to public scrutiny that provides interested stakeholders with an opportunity to be heard, without dominance by any party, the key benefit of ANSI accreditation is the ability to more readily introduce SFPE standards into more codes and standards.

At the same time, standards developed by ANSI-ASDs set the benchmark for quality and performance that help to protect the public interest and foster commerce. By having SFPE more readily referenced in building and fire codes will reinforce the perception of SFPE as the principal global source for technical knowledge in fire safety engineering.

Currently, SFPE produces guides and standards under procedures developed by SFPE. The SFPE standards development process is not accredited by a third-party organization, although, SFPE’s requirements for appointing members and achieving balance on standards committees are intended to be consistent with ANSI guidelines. SFPE currently publishes the two standards:

• SFPE Engineering Standard on Calculating Fire Exposures to Structures (SFPE S.01)

• SFPE Engineering Standard on Calculation Methods to Predict the Thermal Performance of Structural and Fire Resistive Assemblies (SFPE S.02).

The current edition of ASCE/SEI 7 Appendix E (Performance-Based Design Procedures for Fire Effects on Structures) recommends the use of SFPE S.01 and SFPE S.02 with use of the word “should” within the commentary of Appendix E. Consequently, because ANSI accredited standards are only permitted to be referenced in the main body of ASCE/SEI 7 which provides directives with the use of the word “shall,” SFPE S.01 and SFPE S.02 will not be required to be used, but rather may be used at the discretion of the designer for a structural fire engineering analysis. When the next versions of SFPE S.01 and SFPE S.02 are published SFPE will have the opportunity to have them accredited. If this is accomplished, these standards are more likely to be referenced into the main body in future versions of ASCE/SEI 7.

Moving forward, SFPE will focus on how SFPE can leverage becoming an ANSI-ASD into developing more referenced standards that are recognized by the global fire safety engineering community.


SFPE Board Endorses Subcommittee’s Recommendations on SFPE Handbook

The Subcommittee for Handbook Development (SCHD) has completed its report that overviews the Subcommittee’s review of the 5th edition. The report outlines 15 recommendations for future editions of the SFPE Handbook related to format, development and content. These recommendations were endorsed by the SFPE Board of Directors:

Format Recommendations:

1.   Provide both digital (non-eBook format) and print version of the Handbook for the Sixth Edition

2.   Review sales figures for printed copies, and complete a survey after the Sixth Edition printing to determine future demand for printed copies

3.   Further explore an eBook option after the Sixth Edition Printing

4.   Continue with the 6- to 7-year frequency, and publish as one multi-volume set at one time and consider reducing to two volumes

5.   Consider an online subscription service offering for the Handbook

6.   Suggest that Chapter Authors to submit content in LaTeX but note that submitting in Word will be acceptable

Development Role Recommendations:

7.   Appoint an Editorial Board with a remit of correlating and reviewing content between Sections

8.   Reinforce the role of the Section Editor with the following remit:

   •   Review and coordinate chapters and consolidate chapters with overlapping or
       redundant content

   •   Develop a consistent nomenclature

   •   Develop consistent equation numbering

9.   Appoint Deputy Section Editors to assist Section Editors

10.   Request that authors develop a succession plan

Content Recommendations:

11.   Request Section Editors and Deputy Section Editors conduct a review of chapter content

12.   Develop an introductory User’s Guide – this could incorporate portions of the Performance-Based Design Chapter and a discussion of how to use the book for other uses

13.   Organize an informal peer review process of the current chapters of the current Fifth Edition to provide authors and editors comments for the Sixth Edition

14.   Consider incorporating content from SFPE Engineering Practice Documents and Engineering Guides on a case-by-case basis 

15.   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.

The entire report can be found on the SFPE Website at: https://sfpe.site-ym.com/?page=Handbook5thEdition

Subcommittee for Research & Innovation Launches Roadmap that Identifies Research Needs for the Fire Safety Engineering Profession

On Tuesday October 10 at the SFPE North America Conference and Expo in Montreal, Canada, the SFPE Subcommittee for Research and Innovation (SCRI) unveiled SFPEs research roadmap that highlights the research needs for the fire safety engineering profession. This roadmap is intended to be a living document that will be central to defining the future of SFPEs technical initiatives.  Its main focus was based on what research is needed by practicing fire safety/protection engineers. The roadmap can be found at http://c.ymcdn.com/sites/www.sfpe.org/resource/resmgr/Roadmap/SFPE_Research_Roadmap_Final.pdf. Since this is intended to be a living document, the SCRI will always be looking for your feedback on how to improve this document. Please send comments to the SFPE Technical Director at  Chris@sfpe.org.

Upcoming Technical Committee/Task Group/Working Group Meetings:

  • Tuesday, December 11, 2018 4pm Eastern Time

    SFPE Standards Making Committee for Fire Scenarios – Online

  • Tuesday, December 18, 2018 4pm Eastern Time

    SFPE Tall Building Task Group – Online

Current Technical Committees & Task groups

To view a complete list of the standards and guidelines produced by these working groups, visit the SFPE Resource library.

Technical Documentation

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