Fire Safety Engineering

The University of Edinburgh has been an important institution in the field of Fire Safety Engineering for over three decades. Many of those who are now leaders in the field came to Edinburgh to study and research under the supervision of the late Prof David Rasbash, one of the main pioneers of the discipline, and Prof Dougal Drysdale, author of the definitive text book on the subject, "Introduction to Fire Dynamics" (Wiley, 3rd edition 2011) and Prof Jose Torero who was, until recently, the BRE/RAE Chair in Fire Safety Engineering. Teaching and research in fire safety continues at Edinburgh under the leadership of Prof Albert Simeoni, who joined us in July 2013.

The BRE Centre for Fire Safety Engineering is part of the Institute for Infrastructure and Environment, School of Engineering at The University of Edinburgh.

Research Aims

We are a world-class research fire centre with 40 research members from more than 18 different nationalities. The BRE Centre for Fire Safety Engineering exists to:

  • Equip tomorrow's leaders in the field with the skills they require
  • Support today's fire safety with multidisciplinary research
  • Provide first-class education in Fire Safety Engineering and Structural Fire Engineering
  • Deliver fire safety consultancy services to industry and other consultancies
  • Disseminate information about advances and research in fire safety engineering through courses, symposia and publications

Research Challenges

Innovation in one area brings hazards in another. When it comes to fire safety in the built environment, the evolution of buildings is resulting from: energy conservation and efficiency, sustainability and structural optimization, non-conventional building shapes and sizes, innovative materials of construction, and non-conventional construction techniques.

The result is an unquantified and hidden risk.

The overarching research challenge in fire safety engineering is that the Built Environment is continually and ever more rapidly evolving, and there is some question as to whether the Fire Safety Community is keeping up. It is widely believed in the fire safety community that existing design codes, risk assessments, and fire fighting strategies are decades behind innovations in building construction.

In response to this, the BRE Centre for Fire Safety Engineering provides proactive fire safety across all areas relevant to preserving both life safety and property protection in case of fire. Areas covered include: combustion science, fire dynamics, suppression, evacuation, fire service intervention, and structural fire engineering.

We are collaborative and holistic, globally unique group of experts covering all aspects of fire safety engineering. This consists of:

  • 10 members of academic staff (Drysdale, Usmani, Bisby, Simeoni, Torero, Welch, Gillie, Stratford, Carvel, Hadden)
  • 4 postdoctoral researchers (Pironi, Cowlard, Abecassis-Empis, Rush)
  • A full-time technician (Krajcovic)
  • >25 PhD Students
  • >20 MEng/MSc Project Students

We have globally unique, well equipped laboratories including:

  • Rushbrooke Fire Dynamics Lab
  • Fire and Materials Lab
  • Large Structures (and Fire) Testing Hall
  • Access to the facilities at the UK Building Research Establishment

We maintain a number of important external relationships though our in-house consultancy business, links with Fire Brigades, Building Regulators and codes committees (internationally), and strong academic/industry links (internationally).

We offer globally unique educational programs in fire safety engineering, including undergraduate/post-graduate courses (1) Structural and Fire Safety Engineering – MEng, (2) Structural and Fire Engineering (SAFE) - MSc, (3) Fire Engineering - Erasmus Mundus - European MSc, (4) CPD in Fire Investigation, (5) CPD in Fire Dynamics and Fire Safety Engineering, and (6) dedicated Fire and Rescue services training.

Potential Impacts

Enhanced public safety and transformation of structural design for fire has resulted from improved building design by ERPE researchers' development of new and unique design methodologies, frameworks and analysis tools for fire. Fundamental fire safety engineering research within ERPE has created an improved scientific understanding of the effect of fire on structures and materials, leading to an ability to treat fire as a "design load" as would be done for seismic or wind loads. Structural and fire safety engineers have implemented technological advances arising from ERPE research which have impacted the development of new, performance-based design methodologies and solutions, revolutionising the design of safer, more economical, sustainable, and architecturally innovative buildings. This has led to major changes in building design and regulation, and an international transformation of this sector of engineering industry.

Research Partners

Our major funding partners include:

  • The Lloyd's Register Foundation (LRF)
  • BRE Global and the BRE Trust
  • Arup and The Ove Arup Foundation
  • The Royal Academy of Engineering
  • IFIC Forensics
  • Technology Strategy Board
  • European Commission FP6 and FP7
  • Scottish Enterprise
  • NASA
  • Combustion Science and Engineering Inc
  • Research Fund for Coal and Steel
  • The Concrete Centre
  • Buro Happold
  • Tata Steel
  • Powerwall Systems Ltd
  • Environmental Reclamation Services Ltd
  • Geosyntec Consultants Ltd
  • Met Office
  • International Fire Investigators and Consultants
  • Rushbrook Fire Safety Engineering
  • Nuffield Foundation
  • British Council

Our major academic partners include:

  • University of Western Ontario, Canada
  • University of Corsica Pascal Paoli, France
  • University of Strathclyde, UK
  • University College London, UK
  • Tongji University, China
  • University of Queensland, Australia
  • Ghent University, Belgium
  • Lund University, Sweden
  • DTU Copenhagen, Denmark
  • Queen’s University, Canada
Fire Safety Engineering
Fire Safety Engineering