Fire Safety Research Institute Presents at Society of Fire Protection Engineers Annual Conference

Fire Safety

October 19, 2021


Steve Kerber delivers the keynote speech at the 2021 Society of Fire Protection Engineers Conference in Baltimore.

Steve Kerber, vice president and executive director at UL’s Fire Safety Research Institute (FSRI), had the distinct honor of delivering the keynote speech at the 2021 SFPE Annual Conference and Expo in Baltimore on Oct. 18. The Society of Fire Protection Engineers (SFPE) is the world’s leading professional society representing those practicing in the field of fire protection and fire safety engineering. The keynote, "Finding a Voice for Fire Safety Progress," highlighted how the research conducted at FSRI provides fire protection engineers with science-based knowledge so they have the critical data they need to develop better implementation of computational models, improve fire safety and address new and emerging fire hazards. 

“The great thing about science is that once you understand how things work, you can begin to understand things that you have not yet experienced,” Kerber said to a full house of fire protection engineers and professionals. “Firefighters don't have the opportunity to practice during real fires. Fire protection engineers should have access to world class research. And we must all work together to understand when things work and when they don’t. That is how we create a legacy of intelligent professionals, critical thinking firefighters and engineers who can build on the foundation of fire knowledge in a way that makes sense as the built environment evolves.” 

FSRI research engineers were featured prominently on day two of the conference. Kerber gave a second presentation that highlighted FSRI’s research projects and initiatives. In addition, FSRI Research Engineer Mark McKinnon presented a compelling case study about the catastrophic failure of a two-megawatt lithium-ion battery energy storage system (ESS) in Surprise, Ariz. that resulted in serious injuries to four firefighters.

Study of Firefighter Line of Duty Injuries and Near Misses

Read about important lessons from the near-miss incident and the significance of recognizing new challenges around fire safety and energy storage.

energy storage system with a broken fence and debris on the ground

FSRI Research Engineer Jack Regan co-presented with Adam Barowy, research engineer at UL, about important tactical considerations for fire protection design and emergency response regarding the UL 9540 tests of a walk-in lithium-ion ESS container mock-up.

Energy Storage System Installation Test Report

Read the research behind the presentation from FSRI and UL research engineers Jack Regan and Adam Barowy.

small building on fire inside of a large lab

During the conference, esteemed UL colleague Pravinray D. Gandhi, director of research and development at UL, received SFPE’s Arthur B. Guise Medal recognizing his lifetime of achievement in the advancement of the science and technology of fire protection engineering. Dr. Gandhi has worked on research in a number of areas including smoke detection, fire growth and fire suppression. He has also contributed to the development of new fire performance test standards, fire hazard assessment methods, and has served on ASTM, NFPA, and IEC standards bodies as a subject matter expert. Congratulations Dr. Gandhi.