Research Roadmap Overview

Identifying Research Needs for the Fire Safety Engineering Profession

SFPE created and developed a Research Roadmap to identify the future research needs for the fire protection engineering and fire safety engineering profession. The Roadmap is a "living document" with a long-term focus that is also central to helping define the future of SFPE's technical initiatives. Additionally, the Roadmap forms the basis of how SFPE will a) coordinate research initiatives for the profession, b) form partnerships with research providers, and c) select topics and themes for SFPE conferences and educational programs.

When SFPE started the process to develop this Roadmap, it was determined that obtaining global feedback and ensuring transparency were key factors that would ensure its success. To do so, SFPE held a series of workshops and made presentations to fire safety organizations throughout the world. Data for the Roadmap was also obtained from the IAFSS Workshop “Better Linking Fire Safety Science and Fire Safety Engineering Research Priorities for Fire Safety Engineering” that was held in 2017 in Lund Sweden. At the same time, SFPE conducted a survey to obtain additional feedback, which included over 370 fire safety engineers, researchers, and educators. 

SFPE wanted the Roadmap to be easy to read and navigate as well as be able to be illustrated graphically, as seen below. The illustration outlines the nine major Roadmap themes on the vertical axis. Each theme is broken down into four areas where research is needed (on the horizontal axis)  related to tools, applications, and methods that are applicable to the practice of fire protection and fire safety engineering. 

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SFPE Research Roadmap

SFPE looked at different schemes as a way of highlighting and prioritizing the research topics. It was decided to provide each theme and one research priority per cell. For each theme, the following research topics were identified as the highest research priorities.

  • Human Behavior – Data on demographics related to vulnerable populations, anthropometry, and cultural differences
  • Building Fires – Standardization of design fires and analysis approaches
  • Resilience/Sustainability – Environmental impact of fire and fire suppression systems
  • Fire Service – Smart firefighting
  • Fire Dynamics – Practical models for extinction/reignition, suppression, underventilated combustion, and glass breakage
  • Fire Safety Systems – Impact of ITM requirements on system reliability
  • Forensics/Investigations -- Improved guidance for quantifying measurement and calculation uncertainty
  • Wildland/WUI Fires -- Risk assessment of WUI & structures
  • Non-Building Fires – Energy Storage

SFPE welcomes feedback and comments on the Roadmap at engineering@sfpe.org