Putting out a fire

NFPA Recognizes Work to Enhance Fire and Life Safety

Each year, NFPA presents awards that pay tribute to outstanding achievements in fire and life safety. Two of those awards are the Harry C. Bigglestone Award and the Research Foundation Medal, given out by the Fire Protection Research Foundation (Foundation), the research affiliate of NFPA.

The Harry C. Bigglestone Award recognizes a paper that appeared in Fire Technology. The chosen contribution best represents excellence in the communication of fire protection concepts and honors Harry C. Bigglestone, who served as a trustee of the Fire Protection Research Foundation. Bigglestone was a fellow and past president of the Society of Fire Protection Engineers. The award is accompanied by a $5,000 cash prize from NFPA. The winning paper is 20 Dwelling Large-Scale Experiment of Fire Spread in Informal Settlements,” by Nico de Koker (PhD, BScEng, BSc), a computational physicist and structural engineer, who works as an associate professor in the Department of Civil Engineering at Stellenbosch University in South Africa. The paper’s co-authors were R.S. Walls, A. Cicione, Z.R. Sander, S. Loffel, J.J. Claasen, S.J. Fourie, L. Croukamp (all from the Department of Civil Engineering, Stellenbosch University), and D. Rush (School of Engineering, University of Edinburgh, U.K.).

The Research Foundation Medal recognizes the project  that best exemplifies the Foundation’s fire safety mission, technical challenges that have been overcome, and a collaborative approach to execution (the hallmark of all Foundation projects). Representatives from the Foundation Board, Research Advisory Committee, and NFPA technical staff reviewed  18 eligible project summaries and conducted staff assessments of how they meet each of the criteria. The project, Evaluation of the fire protection effectiveness of fluorine free firefighting foams earned the 2020 Foundation Medal. This project addressed the need to inform end users about alternatives by evaluating the firefighting capabilities of fluorine free, Class B firefighting foams on fires involving hydrocarbon and alcohol fuels. More than 165 fire tests were conducted to determine foam application rates and foam discharge densities as a function of a range of test parameters, including discharge types, foam qualities and aspiration ratios, fuel types, water types, and fuel temperatures. Information on the proper application of fluorine free foams (FFFs) was lacking for the fire service. In part, the study highlighted the importance of following the listed parameters while applying FFFs. The research team,  project sponsors (American Petroleum Institute, Angus International, Chevron USA Inc., Exxon Mobil, Johnson Controls, Marathon Petroleum, Philipps 66, Shell Oil Company), and the project technical panel are all recognized with this honor. The award will be presented to the research team during the 2022 Conference & Expo in Boston next June led by Gerard G. Back, senior fire protection engineer, Research & Development, Testing & Evaluation at Jensen Hughes (Md.), and John Farley, director of Fire Test Operations at the Naval Research Laboratory’s Navy Technology Center for Safety and Survivability (Va.).

Congratulations to this year's impressive winners!




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Matt Levin
Matthew Levin
NFPA Public Affairs Intern

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