Thursday, October 20, 2016

Fire Safety Engineering on the Rise in Portugal

Portugal is in an interesting phase where they consider introducing and allowing fire safety engineering to a larger degree. As I pointed out in my presentation at their national conference, FSE (and performance based design in general) is necessary to develop the built environment to facilitate innovation, sustainability and modern architecture. There is a great opportunity - but also risks attached - by allowing fire safety engineering.

Me and three others was fortunate to be invited to present perspectives on FSE in UK, Sweden, Spain and Portugal respectively. The conference was in Estoril and organized by APSEI (, the national security association.

Room with a view of Estoril which has a nice beach promenade
 UK and Sweden share a long history of allowing FSE and are both in the forefront of PBD. However, there are some differences. As Adam Crowley from TAEC pointed out when presenting FSE in UK, the licensure system and review is different with dedicated building control bodies talking responsibility for design. Sweden has a more liberal control & review system, but there is a system for licensure of FSE reviewers. Also, UK has more comprehensive regulations and guidelines whereas Sweden, while having less, also prescribe more with regards to design fire scenarios and other input parameters.

Adam Crowly from TAEC and you see the originally (?) Nordic PBD triangle
in the backgorund that I also used in my presentation.
Intentions of the code is well described in the UK where this does not exist in Sweden. Recently the Swedish Fire Consultancy Company organization started a project to document the intentions of the Swedish regulatory requirements. A great initiative that I think will be valuable. In the future it would be great to get national such documents issued by the Swedish regulatory authority, Boverket.

Swedish fire safety regulations (will be updated to latest version by early 2017)
Swedish national guidelines for fire safety engineering is to be published by Oct 2016 at

Gabriele Vignettes, director of JAVA in Madrid, have his perspective on the situation in Spain. FSE is slowly being accepted and it is necessary to allow unique and safe buildings. However, there's a lack of technical knowledge, non homogenous approach across the country, lack of engineering judgement and these factors lead to the risk of getting unsafe buildings.  

Gabriel Vigne presenting the situation in Spain. Too many empty rows in the front
but soon we'll see a PBD boom in Portugal I hope :)
I'm also happy to hear that Paolo Ramos of Order dos Arquitectos is aiming to create a Portuguese SFPE chapter soon. That sounds  great! SFPE may give good input to Portugal when developing the infrastructure needed for FSE.

Asking where Portugal will be in 5 years gave me a mixed answer. José Oliveira of ANPC (Autoridade Nacional de Protecão Civil) LINK mentioned that goals, objectives, requirements and tools need to be developed. They will look into other countries experiences. Paolos Ramos was a bit pessimistic about getting a fully PBD code, saying it could take 10-20 years due to resistance and distrust to FSE among parts of the authorities. However, some progress would be made still. 

Paolo Ramos on the Portuguese situation where he says that the main problem is to convince authorities.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

SFPE Denver Conference Wrap-up & Workshop on Research Agenda

The second half of the SFPE Denver conference was also great. The technical program followed and also the recognition of prominent members of the society and much more. Not least, a workshop on SFPE's research agenda which is an important step to set a direction for research that support our mission and our members.

Fellows such as Tony Militello were recognized for great service to our society.
Ralph Foster chairs the Outreach and Advocacy Committee
and he is one of our many volunteer leaders who we rely on.
SFPE Technical Director Chris Jelenewicz at the Fellows Reception - one of the
many hard working employees in SFPE Staff, and he also led the research workshop
The day after the conference ended there was a research workshop where we worked on the SFPE Research agenda. There were several interesting topics, and one that was close to me that I've mentioned before was how we may help the developing world. There was several good suggestions:
  • Recognize developing countries "path of development", i.e. that the solutions needed today must be simpler and here were may learn from our own fire protection history.
  • Risk identification and classification of risks could be helpful to engineers working in foreign countries, i.e. knowing the limitations and assets when working abroad.
  • Simple solutions are needed - we may even cherry pick the best and most cost-efficient solutions from our own experience in the rich world and adapt it to the local environment.
  • A good starting point for SFPE could be to initiate a case study to get into the action, but also to create a model for future such projects. For example, aiding Bangladesh fire safety in industries is one known area.
Nils Johansson holding his award speech for the crowd.
Guillermo Rein was awarded the Peter D Lund award and I'm glad to
see good representation from the international fire safety community.
And it's worth to note that award recipients are unusually
well represented on Twitter too.
No conference is complete without some mischief - in my opinion. In Brisbane, we had the gnome spooking us and in Denver the SFPE Staff set up these new ribbons at registration. Registration this year had a fun addition, crazy new ribbons (and I've been asking for them for years!) and I quickly added a trouble maker ribbon to my name badge. Fun things apart, the conference also brought in fresh perspectives from other industries. 

I loved the new fun ribbons, such as the Trouble Maker. And this year is my last
as part of Alliance of Young Engineers (AYE).
My compatriot Nils' budget conference lodging.
Within SFPE, we have a great group for the younger crowd, Alliance of Young Engineers (AYE) LINK. To be a part of the AYE you have to be under 35 years or young and roughly 20 % of our members are eligible for this group. It's a great initiative to help those new to the industry. Now, it's soon time for me to leave this group as I'm closing in on the 35-mark. It was refreshing to see some of the younger crowd at the evening social gathering, playing pool and so on. It was a good thing Daniel Nilsson wasn't there as he owned me big time in 2013 at the SFPE Austin Conference ;)

Next year the SFPE North America Conference is going outside the US for the first time in quite some time. The destination for #SFPE2017 is Montreal and it will be great fun, I'm sure. My twittering and blogging also made sure that I definitely will join as I was awarded the SFPE Denver Twitter Award and the prize is a ticket to the Montreal conference which I am grateful for! Regardless if I'm on the board or not next year I'll surely be there.

The SFPE chapter officials hosting the #sfpe2017 Montreal Conference
that we all look forward to.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

What Can We Do for the Developing World? SFPE Denver Inspirational Talks

Arup's Ray Grill on the Denver Sunrise Sunrise Walk.
On Monday, the first conference day, early birds joined the Denver sunrise walk/run. For a jet-lagged Swede like me, waking up 4.45 am, it wasn't hard to make it for the 6.30 am scheduled walk. Conferences means sitting still a lot so starting the day off with a walk does the trick.

Following the introductions we got to hear where President Laurie Leshin of WPI presented "Inspiring Future Innovations", telling us her story and about really cool space exploration projects - a very exciting area for mankind and our (and possibly others) existence. There's always need for innovation in any business, not least in fire safety. Listening to leaders in other industries is very refreshing and a good (and new I believe) addition to the North America Conference.

Laurie Leshin of WPI holding a very inspiring talk on innovation. 
Finally, in the morning session we also had a talk on a subject that means something extra for me. We were fortunate to have Cathy Leslie speaking to us on "Engineering in Developing Countries" which is a very interesting topic in my opinion. Cathy is the CEO of Engineers Without Borders USA-branch. Globally, more people die in fires than in warfare and I do think that we as a global fire safety engineering community could do more. Cathy gave us interesting examples and also pressed the need for local support. It is also vital to have a good understanding of the third world problems. Applying rich world solutions to third world problems will not work.

CEO Cathy Leslie of Engineers Without Borders
delivering a highly relevant speech to SFPE.
However, I think we can look back in the history of the developed countries and see how fire protection developed. From the Swedish perspective, a simplified way to look at it is that we've gone from preventing cities from burning down, limiting the fires to a block of buildings, later being able to have fire walls and other measures to keep the fire within on building. In the later half of the 20th century we're protecting the compartments, and we're now using suppression systems and other measures to prevent the rooms, or even prevent ignition or growth. To some degree, this may be seen as a path of development. As society's develops and reaches a higher welfare level, it may be possible to add another level of fire safety. Recognizing this may help in finding the right level of fire protection for the risks that developing countries face.

I do believe that EWB is a natural partner for SFPE.  Most fire casualties are in the developing world and as a global engineering society I think SFPE has a unique opportunity to make a difference. What could SFPE and its members do for developing countries? Let me know what you think!

SFPE Denver Sunday Recap: Keep up the good work!

The chapter leadership forum kept everyone busy to improve SFPE Chapters.
During the Sunday afternoon prior to the conference the Chapter Leadership Forum was held. Many chapters were represented and this time there was lots of work to be done too. All participants were asked to give input on certain topics as to how chapters can be improved. For example, how can we get members involved or use social media and new technology? Very relevant questions followed by good discussions. 

Great work by fellow Swedes awarded us the Silver! Someday we'll get the Gold!
Photo: Nils Johansson

And of course, there was the chapter awards and while there are many chapters doing good work I'm proud or course extra proud of my fellow Swedes pulling home a silver medal. Sweden has I quite good track record pulling home medals of bronze and silver valors the last few years. But we're still waiting to get awarded the gold medal some time! 

At the Business Meeting leaders presented the reports on how the society's going, including the president, other board members, committee chairs and not least our CEO Nicole Testa Boston. Nicole is doing an excellent work to bring our society forward and showed the results in her presentation. 

SFPE CEO Nicole Testa Boston giving the Chief Executive Officer's Report.

After the Business Meeting the Presidents Reception & Expo Opening followed, providing great networking opportunities. Many exhibitors return year after year, showing their latest products to the conference attendees.

President's Welcome Reception and Expo Opening, fellow Swede Nils Johansson
speaking to SFPE Staff Julie Gordon.
Finally, I'd like to conclude that the chapter forum, committee reports and everything presented at the Business Meeting really show how much volunteers for the Society. So a big thank you to all volunteers! And to those not already volunteering, please take the opportunity to join a committee! Not least, we need more international representation as SFPE grows globally.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Fresh report from SFPE Denver Conference!

So finally, I'm back blogging again. Parental leave in 2015 and other stuff came in the way and it can sometimes be hard to prioritize social media to other tasks at work. 

SFPE's North America Conference and Annual Meeting
 is right now going on in Denver and I've been here since Friday. Many things are going on in the society and we're soon coming to the end of year two of the three year strategic plan (2015-2017) that we worked on in 2014, which was my first year on the board of directors. I am very glad to see that things are rolling along well; the chapter model is being looked over, the new committee structure is running well, a democratic election system for society's leadership and much more. All in all, I think we are well under way to meet the needs of our growing number of SFPE members and chapters, and most importantly - with a global perspective too.

Board meetings start early and finishes late - lots of things to be covered in the two face to face meetings that we have each year (the other are online meetings).

Board meetings are long days, where many have travelled far for the meetings. In the evenings there's a board meeting at a local restaurant. At the board dinner in Denver we thanked the two board members whose terms are up at the end of the year and who are not up for reelection. I've been fortunate to be able to work with Mike Madden for my three years on the board and he's been doing a great job as president of the society, showing strong and wise leadership. John Woycheese has been on the board for two years with me and like me, he also represents a non-US region - Middle East - which has been welcome and refreshing, adding to the board's global perspective. A big thanks to both for excellent service on the board!
Director John Woycheese receiving a gift from current president Milosh Puchovsky.

Immediate past president Mike Madden holding a great thank you speech to the board.
At Sunday the second day of the board meeting continued and now was the time for the five committee chairs to report to the board. In their reports they give an overview of ongoing activities, subcommittees and also point out areas where directions and decisions from the board is needed. SFPE is dependent on all the good work done by volunteers in the committees and we are grateful to all those walking the extra mile.

Committee chair Paul Hart and president Milosh Puchovsky discussing the increased focusing on online content.
People start to arrive for Sunday afternoon's Chapter Leadership Forum, SFPE Annual Business Meeting followed by the President's Welcome Reception and Expo Opening. All in all - great opportunities to catch up on what's happening in SFPE, how the strategic plan is coming along, and not least networking with fellow members in the fire safety engineering community.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Inbjudan till seminarium ”Innovation och Risk”

Välkomna till SPs seminarium 5 november i Stockholm med temat ”Innovation och Risk”. 
Vi kommer vända och vrida (upp och ner och ut och in om ni så vill) på både innovation och ett riskbaserat synsätt. 

I flera branscher används ett riskbaserat synsätt som beslutsunderlag i innovationsprocessen. 

Vad är då egentligen ett riskbaserat synsätt, påvisar riskanalyser säkerhet och framgång, vad påverkar riskanalysens resultat och hur används ett riskbaserat synsätt kopplat till innovation? På samma sätt ställer vi oss frågor kring innovation, som är ett hetare begrepp än någonsin, hur ser vi på innovation idag, finns det andra innovativ sätt att betrakta innovation? Hur ser innovation ut i olika branscher och vad främjar innovation?

Seminariet är en avslutning på Vinnova-förstudien ”Riskanalys som hinder eller möjlighet för innovation” och gästas av:

Annika Steiber, innovationsforskare och google-kännare
Göran Marklund, stf generaldirektör för innovationsmyndigheten VINNOVA
Johan Bergström, risk- och safetyforskare på Lunds Universitet
Anne-Marie Eklund-Löwinder, kvalitets- och säkerhetschef på .SE
Staffan Bram, Ringhals avdelning för hälsa, miljö och säkerhet
Kerstin Eriksson och Helene Degerman, SP

Klicka in på seminariets hemsida, där även schema och anmälningslänk finns: 

Självkostnadspris 1500:- (exkl. moms), fika och lunch ingår. 

Kerstin Eriksson
Telefon: 010-516 52 46

Helene Degerman
Telefon: 010-516 52 85

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Live report from SFPE Annual Meeting!

SFPE President Carl Baldassara opens the Annual
Meeting and reveals the new logo!
SFPE is right now holding our Annual Meeting which is followed by the conference, seminars and events all pertaining to fire safety engineering and fire protection engineering. The meeting and conference is in Long Beach, CA this year.

As a member of the SFPE board, I'm happy to say that we're now launching a strategic plan that's bold and exciting. SFPE is rebranded with a new logo, with the clear message "Engineering a Fire Safe World". More information will follow on the SFPE official web page, blog and other media, as we roll out the new strategic plan.

A very interesting week will follow in Long Beach with great possibilities for networking and professional development. Today we also have specific events for young professionals within the Alliance of Young Engineers, awards ceremonies tomorrow and a lot more things coming up! See the full program at the top link.

And don't miss the live feed on Twitter from the conference: #SFPE2014 - stay tuned!