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Fire Safety Engineering
 
Civil & Enviromental Engineering
 

 

 

Industrial Research Chair in Fire Safety Engineering

With supplemental financial support from NSERC, Carleton University and Forintek Canada Corp. an Industrial Research Chair on Fire-Safety Engineering within the University's Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering has been established. The research program of the Chair addresses Canada's need for the development of computer models and other tools to predict the fire-safety performance of light-frame wood buildings being designed and constructed according to the objective-based building code that is about to be adopted in Canada.

Research on fire safety is of interest to all Canadians. The National Building Code of Canada (NBCC) has successfully contributed to bringing Canada's fire loss record in line with that of other developed countries. To a large extent, however, these gains have been achieved on an empirical basis. With Canada about to adopt an objective-based code, an opportunity exists to rationalise fire safety design. Objective-based codes prescribe performance objectives rather than specific building methods or materials. While they allow for greater flexibility and cost-effectiveness in design, they require a scientific understanding of fire safety engineering principles. They also require computer models and other tools to demonstrate adequate fire performance; and they require qualified people to use such tools for design or enforcement purposes.


LONG-TERM OBJECTIVES FOR THE CHAIR

The long-term objectives of the proposed research are:

a) to provide the scientific basis on which tools can be developed to cost-effectively deliver fire-safe, light-frame buildings under performance-based codes,

b) to train highly skilled individuals who will interact with the University's engineering and architectural groups, and with industry partners and end-users, and

c) to serve as the hub of a network of educational centres on fire safety design for light-frame buildings throughout Canada.

RESEARCH PROGRAM

The focus of the Chair's research program is the development of engineering tools that can be used by fire protection engineers to quantify fire safety levels in buildings and assist the design of fire-safe, wood-frame buildings. This will entail the development of a comprehensive system model for fire hazard and fire risk evaluation, and subsidiary submodels for fire growth, fire behaviour of building materials, smoke movement, occupant response and evacuation, fire detection and suppression system effectiveness. Particular emphasis will be given to research that will benefit the wood industry by providing design tools which ensure fair assessment of the impact of wood products in building construction.

The primary objective of the research program is to develop and validate engineering tools that fire protection engineers can use to design fire-safe, light-frame buildings in a performance based-code environment. Initially the proposed research will target four-storey commercial buildings and subsequently consider other buildings. To achieve this goal, the objectives of the research program are to:

a) develop a generic fire risk assessment framework and computer model to evaluate the overall fire safety performance in buildings

b) develop a framework and associated computer models to evaluate whether fire protection designs meet the objectives established in performance-based codes

c) incorporate in the system model existing or new computer models for fire growth, smoke movement, occupant response and evacuation, and life hazard

d) perform experiments to generate input data for the models and to validate fire growth and smoke movement models, and

e) develop design fires representative of fires in these buildings.

The Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering of Carleton University offers, a unique opportunity for graduate studies at both Masters and Ph.D. levels in the area of Fire Safety Engineering. This is a growth area with excellent employment opportunities in Canada and the United States.

Fire Safety Engineering is a relatively new discipline. The need for qualified fire protection engineers in Canada and around the world has increased exponentially during the last decade. There are, however, very few Universities that offer a comprehensive set of courses focussing in Fire Safety Engineering. To fill this gap Carleton University, with support from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) and Forintek Canada Corp., established an Industrial Research Chair in Fire Safety Engineering within the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. The Chair has a research program that addresses Canada's need for the development of computer models and other tools to predict the fire-safety performance of buildings and the need for highly qualified personnel.

GRADUATE LEVEL COURSES

To fulfill the objective of training highly skilled individuals in fire safety engineering the following six core courses have been selected. They cover critical areas of fire safety engineering and provide the students with the necessary knowledge to effectively function in a performance based code environment.

CURRICULUM
The following six core courses have been selected to cover critical areas of fire safety engineering and to provide the students with the necessary knowledge to effectively function in a performance based code environment.

1. Fundamentals of Fire Protection Engineering - 82.577
This course provides an introduction and analysis of the fire problem, including social, economic and environmental issues, as well as a description of the fire safety regulatory system and the governing building codes and standards. It covers areas including the fire safety system, active fire protection systems; detection, suppression, smoke management and explosions. It also includes a description of the fire safety design process in a both a prescriptive and a performance-based code environment.

2. Fire Modelling - 82.582
This course provides a broad introduction to fire modelling and its role in fire safety engineering. It describes modelling techniques used in Fire Safety Engineering including, event and fault trees analysis, probabilistic and stochastic models, as well as two-zone and Computational Fluid Dynamic models. The basic concepts of fire hazard and fire risk analysis are also described, as well as the application of models in fire hazard and risk analysis.

3. Fire Dynamics I - 82.575
Fire Dynamics I deals with the fundamentals of combustion including material and energy balances, chemical thermodynamics, kinetics, premixed and diffusive burning. It also covers advanced topics in the theory of combustion, flame propagation, and efficiency of combustion as well as the physico-chemical properties of combustible material. The basic chemistry and physics of fire are introduced. These basic concepts are coupled with the fundamentals of heat and mass transfer to develop a sound knowledge of fire processes. This basic background provides a foundation for understanding fire growth and severity in buildings and for understanding how buildings and components of buildings react under fire conditions.

4. Fire Dynamics II - 82.583
Covers fire dynamics from ignition through heat transfer to growth and spread of fires and their suppression and important governing factors such as containment and its role in the dynamics of fires and explosions. Fire Dynamics II builds on the basic concepts presented in Fire Dynamics I. The interactions among the fundamental fire processes introduced in Fire Dynamics I and the basic features of a building are investigated. The course aims to develop a sound understanding of fire growth and fire severity in buildings. Particular emphasis is placed on the reaction of buildings and building components to exposure by fire. This basic background provides a foundation for beginning the process of designing a fire safe building.

5. People in Fires - 82.578
The course will review work of the founders in the field of human behaviour in fire. Students will be introduced to the basic notions of perception, cognition, information processing, decision-making and problem solving. Behavioural concepts such as panic, commitment, affiliation, familiarity and role will be discussed. Issues related to the timing of escape including the delay in response and people movement will be reviewed. Techniques for data gathering on human behaviour in fire will be introduced

6. Fire Resistance - 82.579
This course covers the behaviour of materials and structures at elevated temperatures; fire-resistance tests; fire-resistance ratings; building code requirements; real-world fires. It also describes techniques used for assessing the fire resistance of steel, concrete and wood building assemblies.

APPLICATION PROCEDURE
Interested students can apply to enroll either through the School of Graduates Studies or through the School of Continuing Education. For more information and application forms please go to:

www.ocice.ca

CONTACTS
For more information about the Fire Safety Engineering program and opportunities for funded graduate projects please contact:

Prof. George Hadjisophocleous
Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
Email: george_hadjisophocleous@carleton.ca
Tel. (613) 520-2600 Ext. 5801

 

 

 

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