Wednesday, 9 May 2012

"Structural safety in high rise buildings’ Lem Kerks famous at last.

The Passive Fire Protection Federation (PFPF) has announced its support for a research project that aims to study ‘Structural safety in high rise buildings’. The project, awarded under the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust’s 2012 Travelling Fellowship scheme, will take researcher Lem Kerks to North America in September/October this year.

The project will concentrate on structural passive fire protection features, wind and earthquake design, and mitigation of explosion and blast incidents in high rise buildings. It will also investigate structural issues related to fire service work, including means of escape and fire fighting access and facilities in high rise buildings. This aspect of the project comes at a fortuitous time, since UK fire services are currently reviewing their methods and procedures for emergency incidents involving tall buildings.

Specific research interests include investigating: steel-framed building configurations, and the fire protection arrangements for the steelwork; the extent of protection provided in North America for externally-glazed curtain walling systems which may be subjected to blast waves; and general passive fire protection arrangements for building elements related to routes which form means of escape.

Mr Kerks has chosen six centres to visit in North America. These include New York, Chicago, Toronto, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Oklahoma, with the visit to each centre taking approximately one week. Mr Kerks also plans to visit a range of UK passive fire protection manufacturers prior to September.

“I am happy to include any research gathering related to this project which members of the PFPF request. I am particularly interested in expanding my contact base with passive fire protection manufacturers operating in the above North American cities. Any support that PFPF members can give in this regard would be much appreciated,” he said.

Mr Kerks has been involved with fire training for 25 years and is currently senior lecturer in fire safety studies at the Fire Service College in Moreton-in-Marsh, Gloucestershire. He has long been a supporter of the passive fire protection sector and worked with members of the Association of Specialist Fire Protection (ASFP) and the College to develop passive fire protection exhibits in the building studies room at the College, some years ago. This facility, still used today, has been seen by most Fire Safety Officers from the UK who have undertaken studies there.

Each year, Travelling Fellowships are awarded to British citizens by the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust, in memory of Sir Winston Churchill. Their aim is to bring back knowledge and experience from overseas travel for the benefit of UK professions and communities. Support of Mr Kerk’s application was jointly undertaken by the Fire Service College and the PFPF.

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