Recently we took the whole DFC team on our annual trip to the University of Edinburgh. The focus of this year’s trip was the science behind compartment fires and the impact of timber construction, an ever growing trend in the industry and of particular concern in high rise residential buildings.
The sessions began with a demonstration of a compartment fire and flashover, which was particularly eye-opening for our graduates and newer members of the team!
Although much of this science is background understanding to our day-to-day fire engineering work, we so greatly value the opportunity to ‘unpack’ the fundamental calculations and discuss their relevance, much debate and discussion was had.
Our ongoing relationship with the team at Edinburgh also allows us to be candid about our experience of timber construction in industry. The resulting discussions were a useful reminder of the concerns about current construction practice, and how we as scientists and engineers might help to improve the understanding and incorporation of timber construction within our industry.
After a long day of science, equations, derivations and discussion it’s only natural that the team built up a thirst! Edinburgh is a beautiful city and we absolutely welcomed the opportunity to enjoy a night with our whole team (which has nearly doubled in the last year) and repay the University of Edinburgh team with dinner and a wee dram or two!
Day two started with a presentation from Luke Bisby on the structural response to timber construction, overlapping the previous day’s science with a frank outlook on the relevance of current structural engineering design guidance assumptions in timber construction. It is clear that although we have started on the path of understanding timber construction in fire, the industry has far to go. DFC will be working hard to support the direction of travel, led by Neal Butterworth and our expanding structural fire engineering team.
The rest of Day 2 gave the team and opportunity to undertake practical experiments in the fire lab. Groups explored time to flashover in timber lined compartments, identified the impact of timber charring and tested the performance of fire retardants using the cone calorimeter.
This practical experience was enjoyed by the whole team and lends valuable understanding to the often theoretical nature of fire engineering.
Overall, the annual DFC trip to the university has again been an overwhelming success. It has promoted our learning, introduced some fundamental concepts to newer members of the team and given opportunity for debate, discussion and collaboration. It has an also been a fantastic and rare social opportunity to get our ever expanding team of engineers together in one place.
We’d like to extend our thanks to the team at the University of Edinburgh for hosting us and for their open minds, contagious desire for knowledge and the valuable CPD. We look forward to our next trip!
Below are a selection of shots from the two days.
- Posted by Iain Macfarlane
- On 2nd October 2019