Visit at SÄRF Guttasjön and SP Borås

This past Friday we had the possibility to visit the Fire and Rescue Services Södra Älvsborg’s training site Guttasjön and SP Fire Research, both located in Borås. Our day started early, since we had to leave from Lund at 6 am. We arrived at Guttasjön at 10 am, and had a mid-morning snack. After that we were given presentation of the activities in the training center, as well as some demonstrations on firefighting equipment, such as the Cobra. This type of equipment can cut through building materials, and can suppress a fire from the outside of an enclosure. As a demonstration, fuel was ignited in a container, and the fire was extinguished by using the Cobra. It was a great experience to see this extinguishing technique in action!

After the demonstration we headed to SP, where we had lunch and met up with Haukur Ingason, who had given us a lecture in February about Tunnel Fires for the Advanced Fire Dynamics course. He gave us a presentation about SP and showed us the labs where they do the fire tests.

After our visit at SP we decided to visit Göteborg, which is not too far from Borås. Mohammad had lived there for two years, so he showed us around and took us to see the view of the city at night from the top of a hill.

Here is a picture of the COBRA demonstration, and a picture of us at SP.

The third semester in Ghent

As an Erasmus programmes, IMFSE gives all students in the first and third semester the opportunity to choice between going either to Edinburgh or to Gent. As I spent the first semester in Edinburgh, I wanted to visit Gent as well and get benefit from the attractive courses available there.

I found Gent as an amazing city that has many distinguished features. The old city centre has a number of stunning buildings including some old cathedrals and the municipality. Besides that, good connections are available inside the city by trams and buses. Also, the city has a big central train station that connects the city with other parts of the country.

What adds more distinguished features into the city, is the University of Ghent that has a very good location inside the city. It locates on a high hill next to the city centre and is distributed over many buildings in this area and in other parts of the city.

During the semester in Gent we had 6 courses. Each of them forms an essential part of fire safety engineering. From Active and Passive Protection to Performance Based Design, without forgetting Fire Safety Legislation and Explosions & Industrial Fire Safety, all are very important for fire protection engineers who need to have the state-of-the-art knowledge in fire safety science.

The courses are taught by the best academic professors besides people from industry. A number of companies’ visits were organized in many courses to make us understand more about theory. The visits to the companies are both beneficial and enjoyable.

As I spent the third semester there, I would recommend it to other students who are confused by their choices. However, I also heard from student in Edinburgh that it is also recommended. That is IMFSE which is always at the expectation and satisfies everybody with his/her choice.



First semester in Ghent

As you probably know, IMFSE is organized by three universities. As a new student, you can start from Edinburgh or Ghent. My choice was to start from Ghent.
I went to Ghent on the 10th of September, even though the welcome week started from the 14th of September. I think it was a good way to explore the city by myself a few days before all the hassle started. When talking about the city, people may not know anything about Ghent. I feel like I found an amazing city, which has a lot of history and wonderful architecture. The city is really alive, full of students and full of the best beers in the whole world. I will not forget about my first semester and for sure will I ever forget about Ghent. 
I didn’t know any of my new classmates when arriving to Ghent and most of them were not in the city yet during my first days. The first people I met were second year students who helped me to find the IMFSE office, which is not easy at all. The good point is that in the office I met Lies and Elise, who are really nice persons. After all, they put up with all of us and with our questions.
After a few days we had a video conference with our classmates who were in Edinburgh and the master was presented to us. From there on the university routine started, with all the courses and all the worries and happy days. But the courses were really interesting and we had the possibility of meeting interesting and nice people, from our teachers to all the people in the Fire Corridor at the University of Gent and of course all the other students as well. Even if it has been a tough period, we made it and now we are here in Lund. 


IMFSE alumnus Arne Inghelbrecht about IMFSE & his talk at the UQ SFPE Seminar

Back in 2014 I had the honour to graduate from the International Master of Science in Fire Safety Engineering (IMFSE). With a background in structural engineering, the IMFSE program allowed me to become a Fire Safety expert. Also thanks to the mobility of the program by attending four different universities, I became part of a unique and global network of engineers. As part of my fourth and last IMFSE semester I wrote my thesis at Queensland University, Australia.

Being originally from Belgium, I could not have imagined starting a career on the other side of the world, yet even before graduating I easily found a job and started a career with the New Zealand Fire Service in Auckland, New Zealand. A job at the Engineering Unit of the Fire Service consists of three main aspects, most importantly reviewing of fire safety designs and providing advice to building councils, secondly doing specific Fire Engineering projects and last but not least conducting Post Incident Analysis (e.g. fire investigation).

After being in the job for over a year, I was invited to give a seminar for the local SFPE chapter at Queensland University. The goal of my talk was to give an overview of what fire engineering is all about and what a great and diverse field of engineering it is. More specifically, during this talk I shared some of my most interesting project work and fire investigation. Moreover, the talk was concluded with discussing my experiences with the Verification Method and the potential pros and cons of introducing such a framework.

The IMFSE program will not train you in specific code or legislation, so as a graduate engineer I had to become familiar with the specifics of fire engineering practices within New Zealand. However, the study curriculum offered me skills and knowledge that go way beyond any specific legislation or practice and I was able to quickly learn and adapt to local practices whilst also offering a fresh and critical perspective.

-Arne Inghelbrecht-

First semester – Edinburgh

I spent the first semester of the IMFSE in Edinburgh. At the University of Edinburgh we had four different courses: Engineering Project Management, Fire Investigation and Failure Analysis, Fire Safety Engineering, and Fire Science and Fire Dynamics. Each course had 2-3 hour lectures per week, along with individual assignments and group projects.

In my free time I explored the city, which is gorgeous! The view form Calton Hill is breathtaking, the architecture in Old Town is very beautiful and the Castle is magnificent. There is so much to see in Edinburgh, I feel like four months were not enough.

One weekend most of us decided to explore Scotland, so we rented a car and drove through the highlands, straight to Inverness, then Loch Ness and of course we could not miss the Glenfinnan Viaduct. It was a rainy weekend, as it often happens in Scotland, but we made the most of it. Scotland is very beautiful, especially during fall, when all the leaves change color. It is such a magical view, particularly for me, since I come from a place where trees are evergreen.

Here is a picture of us in the Highlands, and a picture of the view of Edinburgh from Calton Hill.

A day in Sweden as Firefighters!

It is good to have a good theory knowledge about fire and test that in the laboratory, but nothing will be as exciting as practicing firefighting.

During the semester in Lund and as the weather was becoming nicer and warmer (at least for Sweden), the local fire students arranged us a day at Revinge Fire Station near Lund. It was not a part of any course, but it was something that we liked to join. However, not all of us went there, only eight IMFSE students and seven local students.

So the day started early by meeting near LTH to take the bus to Revinge; a journey of less than 30 minutes between Lund and Revinge. We arrived the station and got a brief description about the station and what we were going to do. We prepared ourselves by getting fire clothes dressed, putting helmets, oxygen gears and the masks.

First, we tried the water hose and learned how it works. The stream can be varied between straight streams and mist curtains. After that, we practised in groups of two how to search for and evacuate unconscious people in smoky (artificially) apartments.

Then, we moved to the practical part of fighting real flames, but we were only observing the lesson, as we are not professionals. A well-trained local student and a firefighters’ trainer showed us how to suppress gas flames in a big container.

Following, the trainer set on a fire inside a room in another container and explained practically the danger of backdraft phenomenon, which happens due to the sudden oxygen supply into a confined space full of flammable gaseous products.

Finally, we observed the usage of foam (from a fire truck) in cooling and coating hot or burning surfaces in order to prevent the fire from spreading.

After these practical lessons, we finished our short day by taking the lunch in the station, heading back to the bus and returning back to the lectures again.



Human behaviour

When I tell people that I am studying the international master in fire safety engineering, everyone thinks that I am going to have only mathematical and physics courses for the whole two years. Fortunately, in this second semester here in Lund we had a different course which isn’t typically taught for other masters in engineering.  
As we all know, it is impossible to prevent our buildings from all type of hazards. The only thing that we can do is to design as secure building as we can, which will give the possibility to have a safe evacuation for people who are in, in order to have as less deaths as possible. As our teacher Daniel said, this topic will be probably new for most of us in this class because this course is psychological engineering.  
After a few weeks of participating this course, I understood what he meant when he said so. People’s behaviour in emergency situations is one of the most unpredictable things in this world and everything in the building has to be as clear as possible in order to not have misunderstandings or any other difficulties during evacuation. One of the biggest difference among different cultures that I went through is that we Italians are much more noisy and we tend to freak out more easily compared to the northerm European countries.
Also, one of the most interesting aspects of this course is that we are going to have an international knowledge of this topic, not only Europe. This is possible thanks to Rita Fahy, who is teaching this course with Daniel. She is from the US, and works for NFPA, which is the National Fire Protection Association in USA.  
Our teachers are going to teach us the best methods and the best ways to design secure buildings in order to have safe egresses. During this course, I really noticed the great difference between all our countries, and I think that this course is a great opportunity to learn about this topic from the teachers but also from my classmates who are all from different parts of the world. Discussing with people from all over the world about this topic helps us to have a better knowledge and to understand that people’s behaviour can change based on the culture and other factors.