In an Effort to Join Forces Against Wildfires, Fire Protection Engineering Releases Open-Access Educational Webinars

news story image

Sara McAllister, a fire researcher with the United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service, teaches the “Flame Spread” lecture at the Fire Protection Engineering Summer School on Fire Safety Science, hosted in June 2023. Photo courtesy of Dr. Arnaud Trouvé.

To help develop new solutions for fighting the world’s ever-increasing wildfires, the Department of Fire Protection Engineering (FPE) continued its work with outside research communities by releasing a series of open-access educational materials that explain the mechanisms behind flame dynamics. 

“This set of videos is our way of saying: ‘this is what we know,’” said department chair and Director of Graduate Studies Dr. Arnaud Trouvé.

Getting a whole picture of the mechanisms guiding wildfires would entail a collaboration with other experts who study biomass vegetation and atmospheric sciences, among others, and so far, the different scientific communities engaged in wildfire research rarely interact with each other. 

“The only technical meeting that brings together the atmospheric scientists, fire ecologists and fire safety engineers is the International Conference on Forest Fire Research hosted in Coimbra, Portugal, which meets every four years,” said Dr. Trouvé. 

He says that given the small community of researchers developing wildfire solutions, the situation demands for shared and coordinated efforts.   

This is why FPE publicized the educational materials that constituted the Summer School on Fire Safety Science - Wildland/Wildland-Urban-Interface (WUI) Fire Behavior, a collaboration between the University of Maryland Burgers Program for Fluid Dynamics and the Combustion Institute— so that those engaged in wildland fire research could observe the problem from the perspective of engineers, compare methods and ultimately join them in finding solutions. 

The release of these materials comes as an effort to interact with other key experts, including atmospheric and geographical scientists, fire ecologists, system modelers, risk engineers, and social scientists.

Consisting of 19 seminars of approximately 90 minutes each, the videos, which are hosted on YouTube, were made accessible via the Summer school’s website with supplementary powerpoint slides provided by over 20 international fire researchers who participated in the five-day program.

Among the department’s instructors featured in the lectures are Dr. Stas Stoliarov, professor and director of the FireTEC laboratory, and Dr. Peter Sunderland, professor and director of undergraduate studies. 

The 2023 FPE Summer School on Fire Safety Science was a five-day seminar program that exposed graduate students, post-doctoral fellows and early career scientists to advanced topics pertaining to wildland and WUI fires and the challenges to finding solutions to mitigate the negative impact of large outdoor fires. The program also seeked to connect participants to a global network of experts engaged in fire safety research and practice. 

Published September 6, 2023