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International Forum of Fire Research Directors Awards

The International FORUM of Fire Research Directors selected the recipients for the 2015 – 2016 Sjölin and mid-career researcher awards.


The FORUM Sjölin Award recognizes an outstanding contribution to the science of fire safety or an advance in the state of the art in fire safety engineering practice of extraordinary significance. It is presented to the individual or group whose efforts are primarily responsible for or traceable to the specified advance. The prize consists of a plaque and an honorarium. Recipients of the award are selected annually and the awards are delivered at the triennial symposia of the International Association for Fire Safety Science, IAFSS.

The FORUM selected Prof. Arnaud Trouvé, University of Maryland, as the recipient of the 2017 Sjölin Award in recognition of his outstanding contribution to fire science and engineering through research in combustion science for over 25 years. Prof. Trouvé has produced numerous improvements of combustion models working with fire modelling including Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD), zone modelling, direct numerical simulation (DNS) and large eddy simulation (LES) of turbulent reacting flows. His work also includes high-performance (parallel) scientific computing, cyber-infrastructure and application of data assimilation to fire and combustion. Prof. Trouvé’s interest in the physical modeling of fire-related phenomena has spanned the following areas: buoyancy-generated turbulence; turbulent combustion; soot formation and oxidation; combustion-generated toxic products; radiation heat transfer; wall surface heat transfer; water-based fire suppression systems; pyrolysis, material flammability and flame spread; flash fires, fireballs, and explosions; and wildfires propagation.

The FORUM selected Dr. Esko Mikkola as the recipient of the 2016 Sjölin Award. With this award the FORUM is recognizing more than three decades of outstanding contributions to fire safety engineering practice, in particular as it pertains to evaluating the fire performance of materials, products and structures, the comprehensive fire risk assessment of challenging construction projects such as multi-story timber frame buildings and underground structures, and the development and interpretation of fire safety regulations. One aspect of Dr. Mikkola’s work that was highlighted is the development in the late 1980s of thermal ignition models for combustible materials, which are widely referenced in the literature until today. Over the years, Dr. Mikkola has conducted cutting-edge research on reaction-to-fire performance and charring of wood-based materials, the effect of fire retardants on the fire performance of materials and products, the analysis of toxic smoke gases, the evaluation of the fire performance of façades and timber structures through large-scale experiments, wildland-urban interface fires, and the application of performance-based fire safety approach to demonstrate compliance with fire safety requirements.

The FORUM selected Dr. William Parker as the recipient of the 2015 Sjölin Award. The FORUM selected Dr. Parker in recognition of his outstanding contribution to fire science and engineering through the creation of innovative methods for accurately measuring heat release rate in fire experiments; initially by developing an isothermal heat release rate calorimeter, for which Dr. Parker was awarded the U.S. Department of Commerce bronze medal in 1976; and more recently by deriving and implementing the equations for measuring heat release rate based on the oxygen consumption technique, which is now used in fire research and testing laboratories throughout the world. Other aspects of Dr. Parker’s work that were highlighted are the development of a comprehensive computer model to predict the heat release rate of wood, which accounts for the effects of contraction of and fissures developing in the char; extensive research on the flammability of upholstered furniture, the results of which are described in numerous publications, including a book co-authored with Dr. Vytenis Babrauskas and Dr. John Krasny; and his role in the development the “Phi Meter,” an instrument for monitoring combustion equivalence ratio in room fires independent of the fuel.


The FORUM Mid-Career Researcher Award recognizes exceptional achievement and demonstrated leadership in the fields of fire safety science or fire protection engineering made by those in mid-career. It is intended to honor an individual, who is between the ages of 35 and 50 at the time of nomination. The prize consists of a plaque and an honorarium. Recipients of the award are selected annually and the awards are delivered at the triennial symposia of the IAFSS.

The FORUM selected Dr. Randall McDermott, National Institute of Standards and Technology, NIST, as the recipient of the 2017 Mid-Career Researcher Award. With this award, the FORUM is recognizing McDermott’s outstanding contributions over the last decade as a lead technical developer of the Fire Dynamic Simulator (FDS) software and the architect of the latest versions of FDS. He has led technical efforts on the hydrodynamics and combustion solvers as well as the Verification Guide. FDS is most important in terms of use by practicing engineers, education, fire investigations, design of fire protection systems, etc. all over the world.

McDermott’s specific contributions are numerous and have led to dramatic improvements in FDS’s performance. Specific improvements include eliminating spurious vorticity at mesh boundaries and dispersion error in species transport, implementing the Deardorff turbulence model, near-wall stress models, the Turbulent Batch Reactor model, and developing the infrastructure for users to utilize detailed chemical kinetic mechanisms.

In summary, his work has been critical to the technical rigor and sophistication manifest in recent FDS developments, which are having a big impact on international fire safety.

The FORUM selected Professor Stanislav Stoliarov, University of Maryland, as the recipient of the 2016 Mid-Career Researcher Award. With this award, the FORUM is recognizing Dr. Stoliarov’s outstanding contributions to improving our understanding of the complex physical and chemical phenomena involved in the heat transfer through and thermal decomposition of materials and products exposed in a fire, and to establishing quantitative connections between standard fire test results and the fundamental thermo-physical properties and structure of the material. More specifically, the FORUM is recognizing Dr. Stoliarov’s contributions to the creation of the Microscale Combustion Calorimeter described in ASTM D7309; his development of one of the first generalized comprehensive pyrolysis models, ThermaKin; his efforts to develop a systematic methodology for pyrolysis model parametrization, which relies on a combination of new experimental methods and inverse modeling; and the design of a new experimental method, Microscale Flame Calorimetry, for quantitative assessment of relative activity of gas-phase flame retardants using mg-sized solid samples.

The FORUM selected Professor Kazunori Harada, Kyoto University, as the recipient of the 2015 Mid-Career Researcher Award. With this award, the FORUM is recognizing Dr. Harada’s outstanding contributions in the areas of fundamental fire research, development of practical fire design methods, and university education in fire engineering. More specifically, the FORUM is recognizing Dr. Harada’s contributions to computer modeling of heat and mass transfer in concrete elements during fire in relation to spalling; the development of a glass breaking model; the development of a set of simplified calculation methods of temperature response of structural elements, which have been adopted in the performance verification methods for fire resistance in the Building Standards Law of Japan and are being used for practical design calculations; experimental evaluation and modeling of the burning behavior of combustible items in realistic conditions, e.g., accounting for the thermal feedback in an enclosure and location effects for an object near a wall or in a corner; and the development of engineering tools for performance based fire safety engineering, e.g., methods to calculate the flow rate of fire smoke through a horizontal opening and the charring rate of structural timbers during all phases of a fire, including cool-down.

Marc L. Janssens, Ph.D., FSFPE

Chair of the FORUM Award Committee (2016)

Björn Sundström, adj. prof., Ph.D.

Chair of the International FORUM for Fire Research Directors (2017)