Building Fire Safety in the Balance
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.
Related Media Coverage
- Worcester Telegram & Gazette: WPI Review: Building Code “Tradeoffs” Granted for Sprinklers Not Always Scientifically Based
- Los Angeles Times: Deadly Hawaii fire raises concerns about lack of sprinklers in older high-rises across the U.S.
- The Conversation: Could a tragedy like the Grenfell Tower fire happen in the U.S.?
- Associated Press: Insulating Skin on High-Rises Has Fueled Fires Before London
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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.