July 21, 2017

The buildings we live and work in all represent a kind of compromise. We want them to be attractive, comfortable, cost-effective, and energy efficient, but we also want them to be safe. Sometimes those objectives can come into conflict.

Faculty members in WPI’s world-renowned Department of Fire Protection Engineering are recognized experts on a wide range of issues related to fire safety in the built environment. Their research and scholarship has focused on such topics as the fire characteristics of the materials we use to make buildings, the practices we follow to design them, the creation of codes and regulations that guide building fire safety, and the actual performance of buildings in fires.

Selected Areas of Expertise:

  • Laboratory studies of the fire properties of materials
  • Risk-informed performance-based fire protection design
  • Design and evaluation of active and passive fire protection systems
  • Compartment fire dynamics
  • Human behavior in fire and emergency evacuation
  • Fire risk and building regulatory policy and performance fire codes
  • Post-earthquake fire performance
  • Fire hazards of green and sustainable building materials and practices

WPI Professor Talks to ABC Nightline About Metal Cladding

WPI fire protection engineering professor Brian Meacham was recently interviewed for ABC Nightline about the metal cladding material used in the London apartment building that was destroyed in a June 2017 fire. Professor Meacham's comments can be found at the 1:52 and 3:52 marks in this second part of a 30 minute segment.

Faculty Experts

Nicholas Dembsey
Nicholas Dembsey

My research focuses on the building performance applications of fire dynamics, fire characteristics of materials and fire models.  I am working in the following areas: closing the fire performance gap in buildings; fire safety of green buildings; development of new techniques and guidance documents for practicing engineers to measure fire properties of materials; the optimization of building assemblies for fire performance, ease of manufacturing and cost effectiveness.

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Milosh Puchovsky
Milosh Puchovsky
Professor of Practice & Associate Department Head, Fire Protection Engineering

Practicing fire protection engineers are trained to recognize and assess a broad range of complex fire and life safety issues. They are called upon to bring forth technical knowledge and the skills necessary to develop effective solutions. Through my academic and professional practice I bring practical perspectives to our students' educational experience.

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Post-Earthquake Fire Test

Post-earthquake fires are just as destructive as earthquakes themselves. WPI fire protection engineers have carried out pioneering studies of fires in earthquake-damaged structures, including a recent series of tests in buildings made with cold-formed steel conducted on the world’s largest outdoor shake table. 

Media: Please contact Colleen Wamback at 508-831-6775 to schedule an interview with a WPI fire protection engineering expert.