Are You Fired-Up???

For the past semester, the second years have been given a short dose on what it feels like to be involved in fire safety research, having dedicated our final semester to our individual thesis. Curious to learn more about life as a fire researcher, Kate and I decided to sign ourselves up for The Great Fired Up of London on the 16th and 17th of May hosted by Imperial College London. The event follows the inaugural Fired Up hosted by University of Edinburgh in 2018, and is a chance for the UK academic fire community namely post-graduates and postdocs to come together to network, share ideas, and have fun. What I found particularly interesting about this event is that it is essentially a conference organised by students for students. This provided a platform for budding fire researchers to present their work to their peers in a seemingly relaxed environment.

The day started with a warm welcome from Imperial College London which came with a  really awesome door gift (It’s a fire extinguisher shaped portable charger!!! How cool is that?!?!)!!! At the same time, it was weird to see Kate and I representing different institutions for the first time but I guess having an identity crisis is part of being an IMFSE student (but I am proud to be part of Team Edinburgh! And I am sure Kate is too for Team UCL!).


However, as the conference went on, it seems like institutional divisions did not matter as the community came together as one driven to push fire research. I was impressed at the individual presentations of the PhD students and post-docs which showed not only the hard work that goes into each project but the potential of each project in making a difference to the way we study fire. However, the main highlight for me was observing how the audience, being PhD students and post-doc themselves, interacted with the presenters. There was a sense of camaraderie within the room despite institutional allegiance as ideas were bounced around which I am sure each presenter would take away constructively to further refine their work. Even from our thesis projects, I came to realise that research could be a lonely affair having to work relatively solo on projects. However, even through the informal chats during coffee breaks/lunch, the FiredUp event is a testament that they are not going through this alone and are all in this together!

There were some presentations which really caught my attention. (Disclaimer: These are just my personal highlights. I truly appreciate all the presentations during the conference though). The few presentations by the Imperial College HAZElab caught my attention as it particularly hit home… literally. The presentation by Yuqi Hu from Imperial College even highlighted the significance of their research on haze emissions in Singapore (which is where I am from). It is quite astounding to know that an environmental issue that is prevalent in the Southeast Asia region is being studied halfway across the world. Keep up the good work guys!

We also got the opportunity to witness Jens, a PhD student from University of Edinburgh, present on fire related risks of PV installations. Previous participants have told me that his presentation last year was awesome and he did not disappoint again! Kate even thought it was the best presentation of the conference (I personally can’t comment as I would be extremely biased). It was also great to see how the experiments I carried out with him for my own master thesis could contribute to the larger scheme of his PhD. (I even got my very first “citation” on one of his slides! Woohoo!). Go save the world, Jens! There was also an unorthodox presentation by Benjamin Ralph (or should I say Dr Ralph) from the University of Edinburgh which took the audience out of our little fire box. Instead of presenting his PhD work, he highlighted the insights gained from his experience working as a Fire Safety Engineer for Foster+Partners. Outside the confines of our area of expertise and put in a situation such as building design where we are only a small piece to a puzzle, are we “true collaborators or (merely) technical enablers”? Dr Ralph gave us some food for thought there….

Although we may seem like lost IMFSE students during the event, it was great to be reunited with fellow IMFSE alumnus. Cui Wuquan, from IMFSE cohort 2015-2017, currently a PhD candidate in Imperial College London was a great host and made us feel at home. We also got to meet the IMFSE poster girl, Carmen Gorska Putynska from IMFSE cohort 2013-2015, currently a PhD candidate in the University of Queensland (UQ). (Yes! Our IMFSE associated partner, UQ (though technically not UK), was also present with a few of their PhD students including Carmen presenting their work!) Through our interactions with both of them during the event, it was inspiring to see how IMFSE provided them a solid foundation for them to grow into accomplished PhD students. With the right attitude, all of us IMFSE students are more than equipped to pursue a PhD should we aspire to. We truly wish both Wuquan and Carmen all the best in their PhD endeavours. We will be closely following your development and rooting for you!

I would like to extend my gratitude to Imperial College London and HazeLab for organising this event and doing so with such warmth, as all of you were really welcoming and friendly, making a point to check-in on all the participants no matter who we are. The two days of presentations was really a great exposure into the fire research world. It was my first taste at how an academic conference was like and it helped that it was carried out in a relaxed environment. It remains to be seen where the next FiredUp will be held. Other than University of Edinburgh, Imperial College London and University of Queensland, it was great to see other universities represented during the event with participants from UCL, University of Newcastle and University of Greenwich so maybe one them will take up the reigns next year. Either way, I would strongly encourage all future IMFSE students to attend or even better, present your Masters thesis as it is really a great experience as a taster into the world of fire research. So look out for the next Fired-Up and if the time is right, go for it! You will not regret it. 🙂


G’day Mate!!

In this special edition post, we shall have a blog take-over from one of my best friends in the IMFSE programme, Andrei Lazouski. For our thesis semester, Andrei has ventured down under to one of IMFSE’s associate partner universities, the University of Queensland (UQ). Eager to share his experience, I would like to proudly present, Andrei’s Adventures in Australia!!!

Introducing to you, the kangaroo to my koala, Andrei!!!

Hi everyone! As the 4th semester of the IMFSE Programme can be spent in one of the associate partner universities apart from programme host universities, I had the wonderful opportunity to complete my master thesis at the University of Queensland (UQ) with Dr Cristian Maluk as my supervisor. If any reader will have such an opportunity to do the same, he or she should definitely go for it 😊!!!

My long long trip started from Moscow Domodedovo airport with a 1-day transit in Singapore. Before my 1-day adventure in Singapore, I was fully informed about best attractions, places of interest, food courts etc. (hmm.. I wonder thanks to whom…). I was impressed by such a modern city with the beautiful Gardens By The Bay, the iconic Marina Bay Sands and the buzzing Central Business District. One day was definitely not enough to see all of the possible landmarks and attractions, so I hope to return there someday!

Andrei with the legendary merlion. Ever wondered why Singapore was named Singapore?

When I finally arrived at UQ, I was very warmly welcomed by a big team of fire-related professionals which included academics, PhD students, master students and researchers.  It was also great to be reunited with some of them whom I’ve already known from their guest presentations at the University of Edinburgh. The IMFSE (and the global fire safety family) is truly a connected and close knitted one. 

Showing of the Australian weather to us stuck in Europe.

In UQ, I was truly fascinated by the variety of fire-related apparatuses in the lab, which included 2(!) H-TRIS (Heat-Transfer Rate Inducing System) apparatuses which was of particular interest to my master thesis. Also, it has the largest Structures Lab I’ve ever seen in all the universities I’ve been to. I was amazed by it’s true “Australian” scale! Apart from facilities, there are also highly qualified professionals, who operate the lab on a daily basis and helped me in operating the different equipment for my thesis experiments.

I was thankful to be able to join the weekly meetings with the fire team in UQ. The research- and industry-related discussions during the meetings exposed me to new challenges which exist for modern fire safety engineers and researchers. Also, I had a great opportunity to present my master thesis to the team who gave me detailed feedback and had in-depth discussion of the problem. There were also numerous talks by fire safety engineering companies who shared their experience in performance-based design and its features in the Australian market. Some of the key highlights include attending the lecture by Dr Marianne Foley (ARUP) and a presentation by RED Fire Engineers. The fire team in UQ is truly remarkable. Fun fact: Although there are not many pine trees around Brisbane, the fire team made the best prediction for the recent NIST Christmas Tree Fire Heat Release Rate Prediction Competition and received the Gold Pine prize. GO UQ!

Can IMFSE get the golden pine next year?

Other than the awesome fire team and lab, the St. Lucia campus is also one of the most beautiful campuses in the world. It’s hard to differentiate whether you are in a zoo, in an ancient city or a university. I’ve never been a fan of birds, but once I got to Australia, I started to notice a new species  every time I pass by the UQ lakes! And I decided to take pictures of them.

Spending my 4th semester in Australia was a truly amazing experience.  Going to the University of Queensland to perform the IMFSE master thesis is definitely a great opportunity and an awesome adventure which gave me new insights into the profession from an Australian point of view, which I highly appreciate.

– Andrei Lazouski, IMFSE 2017-2019

Wow!!! Now even I want to go and visit University of Queensland (neh.. I am team Edinburgh!!). It is really wonderful to see how even though all of us are from the same cohort of IMFSE students, we all have varied and diverse experiences which is a great hallmark of an IMFSE education. Hope you enjoyed this blog take-over from my Belarusian friend and hope this inspires readers to consider going to UQ for your thesis semester. Thank you for sharing, Andrei!

IMFSE & ERASMUS+: Changing Lives. Opening Minds.

As the European Union (EU) gears itself this month for the European Parliamentary elections (and that’s as political as this post will get), it is timely that we remind ourselves that IMFSE is essentially set up in the Erasmus+ framework of the EU.  IMFSE have excelled throughout the years receiving the Erasmus+ label of success story and good practice example. This is in recognition of how IMFSE is well-managed and distinguished itself as a role model for other ERASMUS programmes.

In order to be more involved in ERASMUS activities, IMFSE sent Balsa and I to the Erasmus Mundus Association (EMA) 12th General Assembly (GA) in Vienna together with fellow IMFSE alumni, Simon and Beshir, as well as Lies, our ever-reliant IMFSE administrator. It was the first time IMFSE have attended the EMA GA and it was a great opportunity for IMFSE to get in touch with the wider ERASMUS community. EMA is an association for students and alumni of ERASMUS programmes and form an official channel of communication for students, alumni and universities with the European Commission.

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The IMFSE contingent in EMA GA 2019

The assembly kicked off with inspirational speeches by human rights activists sharing their views on the global youth agenda as well as personal accounts of their stories on hope and resilience. These sessions made us wondered how our role as future young fire engineers could impact the society at large and how we are essentially part of a wider global community with a multitude of challenges.

On an official note, an informative session with the European Commission introduced the latest EU policies with discussion on defining the ERASMUS brand and the sustainability of the programmes. As the vision of the European Commission for ERASMUS programmes was laid out, there is no question that IMFSE would be here to stay and prosper in the future. Tackling the skills gap with the on-going global concern on the competency of fire safety professionals, IMFSE have been continually fulfilling the vision set out by the ERASMUS+ programme. With an active management board and an ever growing IMFSE sponsorship consortium, IMFSE is well-funded (though more support is always welcomed) and managed effectively. With students from all over the world and involving 6 universities spanning 3 continents, there is no doubt that IMFSE is an inclusive programme that supports internationalisation and transnational training. Its accolades which includes SFPE 2018 ‘David A. Lucht Lamp of Knowledge Award’ also solidifies it position in providing quality training and fostering innovation. Dare I say, IMFSE definitely represents the ideals of the ERASMUS+ programme.

During the general assembly, the IMFSE contingent also actively participated in the workshops which seek to align the UN Sustainable Development Goals with ERASMUS+ programmes. It was an eye-opening experience to see how IMFSE could fit in the wider scheme of global development that seeks to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all especially in terms of quality education as well as development in industry, innovation and infrastructure. As the workshops were conducted in group sharing sessions with representatives from other ERASMUS+ programmes, we were also exposed to the agendas of other programmes and how we could collectively achieve these goals. It seems like IMFSE could play a bigger role in global development than expected.

The EMA GA was also a great exposure for the IMFSE contingent to learn about the role that EMA could play for current and future IMFSE students. Learning about EMA country and regional representatives was particularly enlightening. They not only provide an avenue to promote IMFSE but also serve as a local support system for students and alumni though activities such as pre-departure briefings for new ERASMUS students in their home countries. So to all incoming IMFSE students, feel free to reach out to your EMA country representatives should you need help or support in preparation for your exciting ERASMUS experience!!

Overall, EMA GA was a refreshing experience to detach ourselves from the little world of fire we live in but instead, see how fire safety and IMFSE relates to the global issues at hand. It was also encouraging to see how IMFSE stays true and continues to thrive within the ERASMUS+ ideals.  With the continuous support of the ERASMUS+ programme of the European Union, may IMFSE continue to do good in the world.

Don’t be passive. STUDY PASSIVE!

If you asked me at the start of my IMFSE journey what I am most fearful of, its structural fire protection. Having no structural background, I knew it would be a challenge and having started in Edinburgh followed by Lund, I was able to avoid it for most of my IMFSE journey…. until now.  However, over the course of my studies, I have grown to have an appreciation for structural fire engineering, acknowledging that it is a critical gap in knowledge for me to become a “complete” fire safety engineer. True enough, when the 3rd semester came, passive fire protection had become the course that I was most excited for knowing that I would be swimming (or should I say drowning….) in my own uncharted intellectual waters.


During one of the many structural fire engineering seminars organised by Dr. Ruben (I could tell he is really adament about us students having a good outlook on structural fire engineering… and with good reason too!), Danny Hopkins from OFR consultants presented a slide which is adopted from Guillermo Rein’s idea of “lame substitution”: where fire engineers replaces structural engineering (and vice versa) with pseudo science. This encapsulates the importance of the study of structural fire engineering as a integration of two disciplines instead of studying them separately and merely using simplified inputs from the other to justify the fire/structure design. This starts with education and got me thinking as a student, why do we take the excuse of not having a structural engineering background be a stumbling block for us learning structural fire engineering? Why don’t we have the same negative attitude for other subjects like “I’m not a psychologist so why should I study human behaviour” or “I am not a scientist so why should I study fire dynamics”? With growing fire engineering challenges such as the rise of timber buildings and more complex building designs, we ought to accept that this integration between fire and structures is becoming more and more critical in the development of fire safety engineering in the world.

Despite these lofty ideals, back in the classroom, I am still having a hard time dealing with a simple column/beam/slab. Every lesson was extremely intense and drained a lot of energy by the end of it. Despite my attempts at trying to be positive, it was especially frustrating when I don’t even know what I don’t know. Thankfully, Professor Annerel was patient with our endless (sometimes embarrassingly basic) questions when we try (although most of the time failing) to solve his exercises on our own. To incoming IMFSE students who are going “oh shit” at this, don’t worry… IMFSE have improved their already awesome syllabus by including “Structural Mechanics” into the Semester 1 syllabus in Edinburgh and the “Basics of Structural Engineering” course in UGent is being revamped to cater to students with and without structural background. Future IMFSE students would be better equipped to face more advanced modules related to structural fire engineering and eventually, better tackle structural fire safety issues in their career. Kudos to IMFSE for continually improving the programme to develop better fire safety engineers for the future… well, that’s why they won the SFPE David A. Lucht Lamp Of Knowledge Award right?

It also helps to have helpful classmates with background on structures to guide us along the way. Our resident structure guru, Tanveer, held group study sessions so that we could keep up with some basics of structures to get us through the course and prepared us for the exams. We could not have gone through this course without his help. I was also proud of what my group consisting of Bogdan, Silvia and Ayappa achieved for our group work. Despite our obvious lack of structural background, we were able to produce a sound (albeit simple) report where all of us made significant contributions even though we had to learn everything from scratch.

Although Passive Fire Protection could potentially be the reason why I would be required to return to UGent prematurely next semester, I was glad to have at least some exposure to structural fire engineering which despite being challenging, is an interesting and essential field of fire safety engineering. It would be naive to believe we are experts after this but having an appreciation for it is crucial to our development as fire safety engineers. So, for those without structural background, be open minded and don’t shy away from the unknown. Face the challenges of learning something out of your league head on for the sake of being better, more wholesome fire engineers in the future. How about those who are already well-versed in structural engineering? The fire safety engineering community needs you more than you know. Not only to develop further the intersection zone between the two disciplines but also to guide us noobs in structural engineering so that together, we could build better but more importantly safer, infrastructure.


“If Not Us, Then Who?”

Sounds familiar? These are parting words from Kate’s article post-FSE day, calling for our active participation towards improving fire safety around us. As most of the IMFSE students in Ghent are currently living in student accommodation, our time to come forth arrived when the following notice came up on the bulletin boards…


It was a call for residents to volunteer as Safety Stewards which includes being guardians of fire safety within our accommodation. Jumping on the opportunity to be more involved in fire safety, Dheeraj and I signed up for the it immediately.

Our participation started with an the information session on becoming a Safety Steward and the emergency procedures at UGent. During the session, we were briefed on what are expected of us in the event of an emergency. For example, on the activation of the warning alarm, we are to investigate the source of the alarm to determine if it is a legit alarm. Something that is extremely useful seeing that false alarm has been occurring frequently in my block either due to a hot kettle in the room, a hair dryer or amazing Indian cooking that is too hot to handle… (hmmm… I wonder who was responsible for that last one…). Other than emergency situations, we were also reminded to stay vigilant in ensuring safety such as making sure fire doors such as the kitchen remained closed. Trivial as it sounds, it will matter when it matters. In the end of the session, we were handed yellow vest to identify ourselves and a torch which are used for signalling and curiously, also knocking on doors to call for residents to evacuate. (Apparently, an enthusiastic steward once came out of an evacuation exercise with bloody knuckles from excessing knocking…)

Our test came when it was time for an announced evacuation. Of course, all residents were informed beforehand of the drill but it was good to see most residents especially IMFSE students participating in it. As we were shepherding people to the evacuation point, I was thinking of all the aspects of human behavior during evacuation we learnt in Lund: social influence as people want to look cool while evacuating by moving with swag, affiliation theory where people tend to wait for their friends and evacuate together as a group… it was like watching a real life human behavior experiment. However, the role-rule model came in handy as armed with our bright yellow jackets and flashlights, residents followed our cue to evacuate and rightly consulted us for information on where to gather. In fact, in the debrief, we were told that it was a record evacuation time for our accommodation though this was mainly due to overwhelming number of safety stewards in attendance. I guess that 100 euro award came in handy. Enrico mentioned in the forum on FSE-day that one way to get people more involved in fire safety is to provide incentive rather than penalties. Although it is sad to see that fire safety being “bought” in order to gain attention, I guess this is a sign that it may work after all!!!

Our training as safety stewards wrapped up with a first aid and firefighting course conducted by Mobiele Blusopleidingen which literally came to our hostel in a van equipped with a fire fighting training facility. Trainer Sam de Vos taught us how to use the fire extinguisher when there is a room on fire including the steps on how to check and enter the room safetly as well as the use of fire blankets for fires in kitchens. It was not only interesting to learn these simple and practical knowledge on fire fighting as I was also amazed at how interested other non-fire students attending the course are in learning more about fire and what to do in case of one. I was great to know we are not in this fight against fire on our own!!! The night ended with a first aid course which may come in handy especially since we stay near Overpoort, a.k.a Ghent’s party central (though any mouth-to-mouth action have to be carefully thought through). With that, we are officially safety stewards of Home Groningen!!

Shaping a New World

Over the summer holidays, I was blessed to involved in “shaping a new world” though my internship with ARUP Singapore. Having been away from home for the year studying with IMFSE, I did not know what to expect returning to the working world in a similar industry but a different scope; a mechanical engineer turned fire engineer. However, the experience was truly refreshing as I was not only working in an awesome environment but I could also see the relevance of the knowledge I gained the past year.

Contrary to what most people expect of internship work (print papers, data entry etc.), I was thankful that I had not only interesting and exciting tasks but my work was taken seriously too. One of the first tasks that I was entrusted to was to build flowcharts and you may think… hmm what’s so interesting about that. Well, these flowcharts are mainly for the understanding of clients and authorities on the design intent and sequence of events when there is a fire alarm. I realised that it took a lot of methodological thinking to capture the different scenarios that could arise and “leave no stone unturned”. This is especially so since most of the projects that require fire safety engineering inputs in Singapore are for performance-based solutions. The projects are not conventional and require a thorough thought process from not only design but also operation in a fire scenario. A “simple” flowchart may take many revisions to be satisfactory as different individuals and stakeholders would highlight certain areas to be enhanced. Although this may be a frustrating process, we know that every revision will contribute to a better, comprehensive design.

Another memorable task I had was to restructure a design guideline such that it is more user-friendly and relevant to a specific use.  It involves reading through many documents including various codes and standards to summarise the key points that are crucial to the building such that it would be reproducible. At times I find myself lost in the overload of information, but the challenge is to pick out what is important, question why the guidance was there in the first place and how could it be improved; something Stephen Welsh’s Fire Safety Engineering course in Edinburgh prepared me for. It was probably one of my favourite tasks as it was like my baby and honestly, I was sad to leave it (no matter how painful it was) by the end of my internship.

One of the most eye-opening tasks I had was helping with fire simulations. I would not have realised it then but I am truly thankful for our Simulations in Fire Enclosures course in Lund now. It may have been a basic course on simulations and FDS but without it, I would have been completely lost with real-world simulations that are of a larger scale and complexity. To those who will be taking the course next semester, appreciate what is taught as it will go a long way. Always remember to CHECK YOUR FDS FILE (learnt it the hard way :(…) even if you are using user-friendly software like PyroSIM. Simulations are extremely time-consuming and tedious but the satisfaction when the “pretty” and CORRECT pictures are generated is really rewarding. I will never underestimate the work that goes into simulations ever again!

There were also other tasks along the way like helping to prepare fire engineering reports, mini research work like justifying a design fire size (thanks to both fire dynamics courses in Edinburgh and Lund!) and just about anything that needed to be done, I’m game for it. However, the highlight of my internship experience is more than just work… it’s the people.

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The fire team in ARUP Singapore may be small but mighty! Led by one of the coolest boss I’ve worked with, the team of 7 (3 of which are IMFSE alumnus!!!) are a crazy bunch of individuals with not only different vibrant personalities but also bring different skill sets to the team. It was a truly wholesome team with great camaraderie and all of them had the same drive and passion for the work they do. They are a truly inspiring team of fire engineers who made my internship experience all the more rewarding as I was motivated to learn and contribute as much as possible with them.

Thanks to Ruth for giving me the opportunity to join your awesome team and more importantly, showing me what an exemplary fire safety engineer should be. To Li Hooi (IMFSE alumni), thanks for looking out for me and making sure I get the most out of the experience. To Matthew, although you always call me “Intern”, I really appreciate how you treat me like I’m not and I enjoyed working with you on challenging projects. To Khai (IMFSE alumni), it’s weird to see you at work after knowing you as a student but hey, guess you are as good at work as you are as a student! To Pris (my FDS guru), thanks for patiently teaching me FDS and wow-ing me with your eye for detail! To Mai, thanks for being an energizer bunny and injecting happiness to everyone yet working really hard and willing to help anyone in need. To Jasper (IMFSE alumni), technically I have never worked with you but thanks for always willing to help when I needed advice and being a great support!

It is not common to find a team of individuals that are so dedicated to their craft like the team I had the honour to work with in ARUP Singapore. Not only were they extremely nice individuals, they had an admirable work ethic and a thrist for knowledge that is truly commendable. The best definition of a fire engineer I came across (and one which i truly aspire to live by) was aptly mentioned in Bart Vanbever’s speech during last year’s FSE day (FSE Day 2018 is coming soon… stay tuned!!!) where he quoted the late Margaret Law, one of ARUP’s finest fire engineers:


With that definition, I believe that the fire team in ARUP Singapore are true fire engineers living her legacy.

To build on Kate’s post, I would also strongly recommend future IMFSE students to pursue an internship during the summer break. Searching for an internship may be long and frustrating but the process of finding one is an experience in itself. It is also important to make the most out of the courses in IMFSE and look beyond just the exams and assignments as I believe it truly prepares us to be good fire engineers as long as we approach it with the right learning attitude. No matter where we end up working at or what we are working on, attitude will continue to play big role in how much we can gain from the experience as even the most mundane tasks can have a purpose if we give it a purpose. 🙂

Fuel For My Fire

[DISCLAIMER: This post has little about fire too but it starts with the letter “F(?)”]

As we start our school semester, it is often easy to be trapped in the stressful academic life; lectures, assignments and impending doom…. exams!! The first week in Ghent is nothing short of intense as it is probably the university with the most contact hours compared to my previous semesters in Lund and Edinburgh. So it is no surprise that I am soon in search of my “go-to” stress-reliever: FLOORBALL!!!

A brief intro on the sport: Floorball (or innebandy as it is called in Sweden. its country of origin) is a relative new sport which is a type of floor hockey played indoors. It seems like the game was invented as a substitute for ice hockey when there is no ice. Being a fast and exciting sport, I love the sport back in Singapore where I have been playing for the past 10 years and coming to Europe, where the sport was even more popular, I knew that I can’t stop. Here’s a little taste on what floorball is:

Before arriving in Edinburgh for my first semester, I started scouting for teams in the city that I could join. I wasn’t hoping for much as the sport is not big in the UK (as compared to top favorites like of course football) but I was happy when I found Edinburgh Floorballers who plays recreationally near my accommodation (plus they were friendly and nice!). As I wanted to also try to play competitively, the players there recommended that I joined Fife Floorball Club who are based in Kirkcaldy, Fife (a train ride away from Edinburgh) since it was the nearest club. It was with them where I played in the Scottish Cup and the Scottish Floorball League and boy, was it an experience! It was the first time playing alongside men and there is so much diversity in game play. I had wonderful teammates both young and younger who were a joy to play with. I also realised how dedicated players here are even to a non-mainstream sport as we had to travel close to 2 hours by car to the competition venue in Perth (and play 3 games in a row to make full use of the travel).  I look forward to joining them again when I return to Edinburgh!!!

The next semester to be an exciting one as I would be heading to SWEDEN!! The birthplace of floorball!! It is no surprise that Sweden have dominated the world championship (although Finland have been contesting for the top spot in recent years) and there’s even more anticipation on what’s to come when you google “Lund University Floorball” and one of the first pictures you see is this….


Yup!! That’s the fire engineering teachers’ team from Lund University lead by goalkeeper Prof. Patrick van Hees! Walking down the Brandteknik corridor, you may spot the goalie helmet at the corner of Patrick’s office or the stick by the corner of Enrico’s office. I guess floorball does run in the fire engineering blood…. or at least in Lund!

As Lund University has strong links with universities in Singapore, a couple of my floorball friends back home were in Lund for their exchange and together we went in search for avenues to play floorball. There were hit-arounds by the nations as well as other student associations but our favourite experience was with Killer Kriller Boys or KKB for short (KKB sounds like Kokobear when pronounced the Swedish way). They are a bunch of friends who just picked up a sport a year ago but had so much passion for the sport that it was truly inspiring. I loved fighting alongside them in the Korpen Innebandy Lund. Win, lose or draw, it didn’t matter as they were an encouraging team and through floorball, I gained a team of friends too! I truly miss playing with them now that I’m out of Lund but I am glad that they are still floorball-ing on! Also, since the competition venue was only a short walk away, even my IMFSE classmates were in on the action by coming down to watch the games. Thanks guys for your support!! 🙂

Sweden is really a heaven for a floorball fan. They are floorball sticks sold in every sports store, even the second hand stores! I was also able to catch the Swedish Super League in the Globe Arena, Stockholm!!! That is like witnessing floorball equivalent of the Champions League or even the World Cup!!

I’m not hoping to convert all fire engineers to floorball fanatics but having an outlet to relieve stress or meet new people has helped me to gain a wider experience during my IMFSE journey beyond the classroom, beyond the university. Floorball has seen me through tough times during my studies and work back home but despite being far from home, it is one that is still sustaining me even now. I have also met great friends who share the same passions as me while developing a better understanding of the game and how it differs worldwide with different game plays, competition set-ups and players. Kind of how teaching styles, university administrations or even students vary from place to place along the IMFSE journey.

Everyone needs that bit of fuel to fire on through their studies in the IMFSE programme. It may be tennis (call Gerard), basketball (call Miqdad) or dancing (which seems to be favorite among some of my classmates as they would attend “Dancing in the Dark” which is a weekly event in Lund organised by No Lights, No Lycra). No matter what that fuel is, bring it with you together with your love for fire safety engineering as you move from one city to another for there is more out there to explore.