4th IMFSE Fire Safety Engineering Day

When something has IMFSE in its name, it’s clear that it has to be good, but when an event has IMFSE in its name and is happening only once a year, then it just has to be remarkable! 4th IMFSE Fire Safety Engineering Day this year took place in the city where IMFSE idea was born, and the city where I spent the first semester of my degree, in the city of Gent, Belgium.

Ever since we found out that it will be hosted in Gent, a few months ago, we were all more than happy for being given an opportunity of going back to the city full of amazing memories! Another nice thing about the trip to Gent was that it meant we would reunite with the other half of our class, but also it would be an opportunity to meet the first year IMFSE students from Gent. This especially made me happy, as my good friend from Serbia, Balša, started his IMFSE adventure this September in Belgium.

After a class on Tuesday morning, where everyone already probably had their minds in Gent, we headed straight to the airport, and after a couple of hours, we found ourselves surrounded by our dearest fellow friends!

The following morning, finally, the 4th IMFSE Fire Safety Engineering Day was about to start! This year’s venue was a beautiful ’’Huis van de Bouw’’, and the central theme of the day was: ’FSE: the road to resilience of critical infrastructure’.


Programme started with registration and a lunch, which was a nice way to informally meet each other and prepare ourselves for the upcoming presentations. Our Professor Bart Merci gave an introduction speech and the presentations were ready to start!

Serbian and Belgian IMFSE students meet again!

This time, the icebreaker was Hugh McNamara, from ARUP Edinburgh. He gave an interesting talk about “The role of fire safety engineering and protection of critical infrastructure”. Following him was a new, young lecturer at Ghent University, Ruben van Coile who presented his research on the topic of “Certain uncertainty – demonstrating safety in fire engineering design”. The last presentation for the first block was particularly interesting for all of us, as it was reserved for a talk given by two IMFSE alumnus Jan Vandekerckhove and Eduardo Sanchez from FPC Risk. It’s really a pleasure seeing how our older IMFSE fellows are having fruitful careers, and really interesting thinking that not long from now, some of us will also be giving lectures to future IMFSE students!

Predavaci 1
Hugh McNamara, Ruben van Coile and the IMFSE duo – Jan Vandekerckhove and Eduardo Sanchez giving their lectures (Photo credits: Elise Meerburg)

Lectures were “interrupted” by a first coffee break, which was a great opportunity for some networking and meeting representatives from all the sponsoring companies, but also PhD students, IMFSE alumnus, lecturers and many other interesting people! Having a chance to meet engineers from some of the leading fire engineering companies is a rare and great opportunity for each one of us. On the event, representatives from the core financial partners of the IMFSE were present, namely: ARUP, IFIC Forensics, UL, BRE, FPC Risk, Fire Engineered Solutions Ghent (FESG), Promat, Kingspan and WSP. What a notable list!

Time for networking! (Photo credits: Elise Meerburg)

The second block started with a presentation on “How fire safety design can impact critical infrastructure” given by another IMFSE alumni, Arne Inghelbrecht, working in FESG. Following was the lecture our very well-known teacher from Lund University, Enrico Ronchi on “Large-scale fire evacuation modelling in critical wildland-urban interfaces”. The closing presentation for the day was given by Bart De Pauw from Tucrail, and he was giving a talk on “The need for a performance based design approach in smoke evacuation in Belgian railway tunnels”.

Predavaci 2
Enrico Ronchi, Arne Inghelbrecht and Bart De Pauw delivering their talks. (Photo credits: Elise Meerburg)

Another coffee break after the second block was followed by a traditional panel discussion. Among the participants were: Hugh McNamara (ARUP), Ralf Bruyninckx (FPC Risk), Arne Inghelbrecht (FESG), Kees Both (Promat), Roy Weghorst (Kingspan) and Romain Hourqueig (WSP). Moderated by Bart Merci, the discussion was based on the topics brought up by the attendees, including the students, which made it especially interesting with topics such as: use of artificial intelligence in fire safety engineering, or future of fire modelling etc.

The panel discussion members (Photo credits: Elise Meerburg)

At the end of the day, a small celebration was organized. The reason was 10th birthday of Fire Safety Engineering at Ghent University. A big day for our profession, and I could not say I am not proud of being a part of this whole extraordinary fire world!

Professor Bart Merci, emeritus professor Paul Vandevelde and one of the first Gent University Fire Safety Engineering diploma holders – Bart Vanbever (Photo credits: Elise Meerburg)

All in all, 4th IMFSE Fire Safety Engineering Day fulfilled the expectations, taught us some new things, allowed us to meet some great people, and certainly strengthened the bond between IMFSE students even more!

The shining IMFSE (Photo credits: Elise Meerburg)

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