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University of Maryland, Underwriters Laboratories and the International Fire Safety Consortium Collaborate to Advance Global Fire Safety

October 13, 2020
Contacts: 

Ted Knight

Lee Tune 301-405-4679 

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – The University of Maryland (UMD) in partnership with the International Fire Safety Consortium (IFSC) and Underwriters Laboratories (UL) are working to address fire safety problems worldwide by advancing fire safety engineering and scientific research, while facilitating knowledge exchange and global collaboration.

Fires result in hundreds of thousands of deaths each year with financial losses estimated between 1-2% of global Gross Domestic Product (GDP), a total of approximately $76 billion USD worldwide. Due to pivotal trends in global urbanization, social inequality, climate change, and human migration, the need to address fire safety as a humanitarian issue has grown increasingly urgent. As a result of these trends, combined with substantial worldwide growth of wildland-urban interface (WUI), fire-related damage to structures and other economic losses are worsening and predicted to increase, as they have recently in the Western U.S.

The large scale of these problems and the increasing societal costs require greater coordinated expertise, public-partnerships, and concerted multidisciplinary research worldwide. The International Fire Safety Consortium (IFSC) global initiative aims to fill this need by bringing together research expertise from across the globe to take on these urgent fire safety challenges.

“We are thrilled to establish this partnership with UL and our International Fire Safety Consortium, which aligns with our research mission to achieve broad societal impact through global collaborations that focus on critical challenges,” said University of Maryland Vice President for Research Laurie Locascio.

“This partnership is a key step in advancing our purpose to address the world’s unresolved fire safety risks and emerging dangers to reduce death, injury and loss from fire,” said Underwriters Laboratories Vice President of Research and UL Firefighter Safety Research Institute Director Steve Kerber. Underwriters Laboratories (UL), is the nonprofit parent organization of UL Inc.

The IFSC engages in research, education, training, and collaboration with industry, non-profit organizations, and governments worldwide to tackle the most urgent and emerging fire safety issues and help save lives. The IFSC was launched by five leading academic institutions in fire safety research and education: University of Maryland, University of Edinburgh, University of Melbourne, Lund University, and University of Queensland. All five of the founding partner universities are members of the Universitas 21 Global Network, a worldwide network of research-intensive universities that empowers its members to share excellence, collaborate across borders, and nurture global knowledge exchange. The IFSC has brought aboard additional academic research partners, including Ghent University. The Consortium is building an expansive network of partnerships comprised of industry, non-profit organizations, and academic research institutions.

"The basic motivation for the IFSC is the realization that fire problems are becoming more challenging and evolving even faster than the pace at which we are producing new knowledge and new technical expertise,” said University of Maryland Professor Arnaud Trouvé in the UMD Department of Fire Protection Engineering. “The IFSC is an attempt to coordinate efforts between leading institutions in fire safety education and research in order to respond to that challenge. Our goal is to increase the number of IFSC members in order to reach a critical mass for impact at the global scale. We welcome UL with its long and impressive record in fire research as a new member of the IFSC network."

This latest partnership will establish UL as a Non-Profit Partner of the IFSC.  UL will collaborate with IFSC members on fire safety education, research, and knowledge exchange.  The partnership will be coordinated through the University of Maryland, a founding member of the IFSC, with researchers from the Department of Fire Protection Engineering actively participating in Consortium activities. The IFSC was originally inspired by and facilitated through UMD’s Borderless Research Administration Knowledge Exchange (BRAKE) program.

The IFSC brings expertise on a wide range of fire safety topics, including:             

  • Fire Hazards (Wildland Fires, Wildland Urban Interface, Urban Fire RisksFire Dynamics (Combustion and Flame Spread, Pyrolysis, Compartment Fire Dynamics / CFD, Material Performance)
  • Risk Assessment (Capability Assessment, Scenario Development, e.g. 
  • Cascading and Crowding, Fire Statistics, Vulnerability, Reliability)
  • Resilience and Sustainability (Environmental Impact of Fire, Affordable and Fire Safe Housing, Fire Safety in At-Risk Communities, e.g. Informal Settlements, Critical Infrastructure Assessment)
  • Fire Safety Engineering (Performance Based Design, Structural Fire Engineering, Building Systems, Suppression)
  • Human Behavior (Intelligent Egress, Arson)
  • Fire Fighting Activities (First Responders, Detection and Response, Suppression)
  • Social Aspects (Compliance, Regulations, Safety Inequality, Professionalism and Competency)

The UL-IFSC-UMD partnership seeks worldwide impact through basic and applied research addressing fundamental challenges related to fire science and fire protection engineering to help make communities safer. The partnership also seeks to help advance the fire safety profession through education and training to address critical societal problems.

For more information about the International Fire Safety Consortium, and to learn more about partnership opportunities and how to support the IFSC, visit the IFSC website or contact Ted Knight at teknight@umd.edu

About Underwriters Laboratories

Underwriters Laboratories is a nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing the UL public safety mission through the discovery and application of scientific knowledge. We conduct rigorous independent research and analyze safety data, convene experts worldwide to address risks, share knowledge through safety education and public outreach initiatives, and develop standards to guide safe commercialization of evolving technologies. We foster communities of safety, from grassroots initiatives for neighborhoods to summits of world leaders. Our organization employs collaborative and scientific approaches with partners and stakeholders to drive innovation and progress toward improving safety, security, and sustainability, ultimately enhancing societal well-being. To learn more, visit UL.org.

About the International Fire Safety Consortium

The International Fire Safety Consortium brings together worldwide knowledge and expertise to tackle the most critical and emerging fire safety challenges of our time. As the impact of urbanization, social inequality, climate change, and human migration continues to grow, greater worldwide coordination and action addressing fire safety is urgently needed. The Consortium engages in research, education, and collaboration with industry, government, and non-governmental organizations to help inform policy and practice, protect property, and save lives. The IFSC was launched by five leading academic institutions in fire safety research and education: University of Maryland, University of Edinburgh, University of Melbourne, Lund University, and University of Queensland. All five of the founding partner universities are members of the Universitas 21 Global Network, a worldwide network of research-intensive universities that empowers its members to share excellence, collaborate across borders, and nurture global knowledge exchange. The IFSC has brought aboard additional academic research partners to join the network, including Ghent University, and is building a broader network of additional industry and non-profit partners. For more information, visit the IFSC website.

About the University of Maryland

The University of Maryland, College Park is the state's flagship university and one of the nation's preeminent public research universities. A global leader in research, entrepreneurship and innovation, the university is home to more than 40,000 students,10,000 faculty and staff, and 297 academic programs. As one of the nation’s top producers of Fulbright scholars, its faculty includes two Nobel laureates, three Pulitzer Prize winners and 58 members of the national academies. The institution has a $2.1 billion operating budget and secures more than $1 billion annually in research funding together with the University of Maryland, Baltimore. For more information about the University of Maryland, College Park, visit www.umd.edu.