If you’re like me, three months of summer holidays is a long time to be away from anything fire engineering related. Some of us scratched this itch by undertaking an internship (stay tuned for another blog post on the experiences of those students), whilst others decided to attend some conferences, with Laura going to Interflam 2019 and myself attending The Institution of Fire Engineers (IFE) International Conference 2019.
Interflam is one of the largest international conferences solely concerned with fire science & engineering and is held in the UK every three years. It’s an understatement to say that IMFSE was well represented at this year’s conference. The conference programme almost read as a who’s who of professors and those associated with the IMFSE program. Five different IMFSE student cohorts were represented in the conference delegates, with a number also presenting their research papers.
With three days of three parallel streams addressing all manner of the latest fire safety engineering research, it would not have been easy to decide which talks to attend. It looked like a great program.
Without a doubt a highlight of the conference (for IMFSE anyway) would have to be Patrick van Hees being awarded the Interflam trophy, “The Spoon”, for key contributions and leadership in the field of fire science. Congratulations Patrick!
The IFE International Conference is a comparatively smaller and less academic affair, but no less important to the industry. The theme of this conference was “Professionalism and ethics in the Fire Sector”, which is something very rightly seeing increased focus around the world as a result of the Hackitt Inquiry (1), Shergold/Weir Report (2) and many others.
What tended previously to be considered as an ancillary topic is now being seen as “a much bigger issue to be considered that speaks to the core of fire safety engineering” (3). For those interested in further reading on this topic I’d suggest having a look at the reports being published by The Warren Centre (link here), with significant input from those associated with IMFSE in the form of the University of Queensland and Jose Torero. Whilst written with a view to the Australian context, there are many themes applicable internationally, which was only reinforced by my time at the IFE International Conference.
For me, the IFE International Conference reinforced the idea that a modern view to leadership and culture, on an individual level to the fire safety sector as a whole, is needed to facilitate the growth of fire safety engineering to a true profession.
Professionalism and ethics are something taken very seriously within the IMFSE program; and whilst it is not always explicitly discussed amongst the students on a daily basis, it is clear that there is a strong undercurrent of this approach in everything that we do. The emphasis on professionalism and ethics really is one of the strengths of this program and it’s a good feeling knowing that those associated with IMFSE are providing a strong, international voice on this topic.
Both of these conferences were incredibly valuable providing a great opportunity for students to both network with and gain knowledge from professionals from around the world.
(1) Hackitt, J. (2018) Building a safer future, Independent review of the building regulations and fire safety: final report.
(2) Shergold, P., Weir, B. (2018) Building Confidence.
(3) The Warren Centre (2019) Fire Safety Engineering.