Fire Protection Engineering PhD Dissertation Presentation and Defense: A Decision Support Framework for Assessing the Technical Adequacy of Performance-based Design Approaches to Fire Safety Engineering

Monday, December 18, 2017
1:00 pm to 2:30 pm
Floor/Room #: 

The WPI Department of Fire Protection Engineering cordially invites you to join us for a PhD Dissertation Presentation and Defense.

Fire Protection Engineering 
PhD Dissertation Presentation and Defense
William J. Ivans, Jr., P.E., PM-SFPE
Monday, December 18, 2017
1:00 – 2:30 PM, 50 Prescott Street, Room 1226


This research effort addresses key challenges associated with the technical review and acceptance of performance-based design approaches to fire safety engineering through development of a decision support framework and associated tool.  Such design approaches seek to confirm that the overall fire safety system, including the building and its protective features, meets a set of fire safety objectives established by relevant stakeholders, and this confirmation is achieved through fire safety analysis, or the application of analytical and computational tools and methods. While the current approach to performance-based fire safety analysis relies on guidelines and standards, these rather generic, process-oriented documents do not provide fire protection engineers (FPEs) sufficient guidance to address critical elements of the analysis process in a systematic, consistent and technically adequate manner.  Should a fire safety analysis contain technical deficiencies, then it becomes less clear that the design solution being proposed truly achieves the desired fire safety objectives.  Moreover, project stakeholders, including the authority having jurisdiction (AHJ), may lack the necessary qualifications, expertise, or design intimacy to, suitably and reliably, identify and challenge deficient analyses. As a result, the current approach to fire safety analysis and its quality assurance has led to large variations in analysis quality and consequently levels of delivered performance. With no existing equivalent, a decision support framework is proposed that will assist the AHJ and FPEs in determining whether a fire safety analysis is of sufficient technical adequacy to support decision-making, regulatory or otherwise.  Additionally, a decision support tool is developed to provide measures of confidence regarding an analysis’s conclusions and assist in identifying those aspects of the analysis most requiring corrective action.


William J. Ivans, Jr., P.E., PM-SFPE

Mr. Ivans is a nuclear, fire and risk professional that has garnered over ten years of experience in the development and application of risk-informed methods and decision support tools, working not only in academic- and research-based environments but also for nuclear utilities and vendors. In addition to demonstrating technical leadership within the global nuclear industry, he has spent the last several years providing technical expertise, guidance and training to nuclear utilities and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission as they adopt risk-informed, performance-based fire protection programs under NFPA 805.  Most recently, he has led an effort to inform the Japanese Government’s roadmap for the decommissioning of the Fukushima site. He holds a BS and MS in Nuclear Engineering from the University of Florida as well as an MS in Fire Protection Engineering from Worcester Polytechnic Institute. 
Committee: Brian Meacham (WPI FPE), Nicholas Dembsey (WPI FPE), Stephen Unwin (Pacific Northwest National Laboratory)
All our invited to attend. We look forward to seeing you there. If you have questions, please email Catherine Fradette in the FPE office ( Thank you.

Catherine Fradette