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October 22, 2021

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Fireside Chat

FIA Fireside Chat: Raman Chagger on the importance of research and collaboration within the fire industry

We pick out some of the best bits from the Fire Industry Association’s (FIA) recent fireside chat with Raman Chagger, Principal Consultant (Fire Safety) at Building Research Establishment (BRE).

You can read the full fireside chat with the Raman Chagger, here.

Raman Chagger, an Applied Research Scientist, is a Chartered Engineer and Fellow with the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) and has worked in the field of fire safety for over 20 years. He performs investigative consultancy projects for commercial organisations, government departments, and fire and rescue services as well as collaborative research projects that are conducted together with industry.

He leads, manages, and delivers research projects to create new knowledge then works with stakeholders to implement the findings to generate real impacts. The outputs include producing publications, developing test methodologies and training material, writing standards and codes as well as engaging in awareness-raising activities. He also develops associated product testing and certification service capabilities at BRE Global.

Raman has written several articles for IFSEC Global, including:

How have you been affected by COVID-19?

A lot of partners, with whom I had been progressing collaborative research projects in fire safety, were concerned by the uncertainty created by COVID and of the potential impact to their businesses. They chose not to financially commit to research until things had settled down and their financial status was clearer. This resulted in these projects either being stalled or cancelled altogether.

What does your usual day look like?

It starts with sorting and responding to emails and checking my LinkedIn feed. I then either lead or perform experimental research work on or off site and spend a fair amount of time writing up findings for reports or publications. I have a good balance, spending roughly the same amount of time at my desk as I do performing experimental work, or working with colleagues, which keeps my working life varied.

What makes you excited about the future of this industry?

Being involved in the journey of working together with partners and colleagues to identify how to improve fire safety then seeing everyone working together to achieve this.

Over the years we’ve collectively identified ways to reduce false fire alarmsreduce fire fatalitiesconfirmed that ionisation and optical smoke alarms detect a broad range of fires from modern materials, identified the most effective visual warnings to provide notification of a fire to the deaf and hard of hearing, and identified when we should replace smoke alarms in our homes and smoke detectors in commercial premises. We’ve also demonstrated how multi-sensor technologies can be more resistant to false alarms due to sources such as steam and dust yet provide the same level of detection response to a broad range of fires.

Such projects, addressing real problems, are investigated by experts to propose practical solutions. To see the solutions implemented and the resulting benefits to society is deeply satisfying.

Being involved in the development of standards and offering a testing and certification service for emerging technologies is also exciting. For example, video fire detection is a relatively new technology for which robust standards are required. I have led collaborative research to understand their capabilities, identified suitable test methods to assess them and am working towards writing a Loss Prevention Standard and developing a testing and certification scheme. To be involved in this journey from idea, through research, to develop a standard and then certify products and then to see certified products in the market is an exciting process to be a part of.

What is the latest technology/invention/innovation you would like brought into the fire industry? 

It was proposed, during our study into how modern technologies could be used to improve fire safety, to use cameras for protecting vulnerable people in domestic environments. The cameras would effectively act as sensors and utilising video analytics could perform multiple functions such as detecting smoke from a fire, an occupant tripping, hazards, occupancy numbers, or a security threat. These could be used to provide more comprehensive support for an increasingly older and vulnerable population. I would really like to see this progressed and would be keen to be actively involved.

What do you like about the fire industry?

How my peers in the industry are committed to and continuously work towards improving fire safety. Fire fatalities in the UK have come down by two-thirds over the last 30 years leading to thousands of lives being saved and many thousands of fire related injuries being prevented. What a great sense of achievement that must be for both those that have contributed to this decline and for fire safety professionals that work to ensure that suitable measures are in place when there is a fire.

Why is the FIA important to you and the industry?

The FIA supports important collaborative research work, engaging in the entire journey, to ensure that outputs and findings are maximised. At the outset the FIA provide cash to support research work and contribute in-kind by proposing their members to act as technical experts on the various collaborative projects.

As the projects progress, findings are regularly reported back to the stakeholder group and the FIA steer it to ensure that these have the greatest relevance and affect the broadest range of professionals.

Once the work is complete, the FIA push forward with the findings by drafting of new standards and codes or revising old ones in the UK and Europe, writing FIA Guidance Codes, Fact-Files, producing infographics and also promoting the findings in their fortnightly published FIA Focus e-magazine. Where relevant, the latest findings from research are incorporated into FIA qualification training modules.

By engaging in this way, the FIA ensures that not only is the knowledge generated up to date but that it is shared with the entire industry to create the greatest impact.

The FIA are keen to promote the work of professionals, like myself, to inform others of what we do. To be given this opportunity to share my views and experiences is an honour and I am grateful. Thanks to you and your colleagues at the FIA.

If you or the organisation that you represent have benefitted from the collaborative research work that has been performed with the FIA then please let me know. Alternatively, if there are areas of private or collaborative research that I have mentioned or others that you would like to participate in, then please get in touch.

Fire Safety in 2020 Annual Report - A year of challenges and change

Download the Fire Safety in 2020 eBook, as IFSEC Global and FIREX International keep you up to date with the biggest stories of the year, including new legislation, Grenfell Tower Inquiry revelations and how the COVID-19 pandemic affected professionals in the sector.

The eBook also features a nine-point guide to firestopping, an exclusive foreword from the Fire Industry Association's Ian Moore, and a round-up of the biggest news and prosecution stories of the year.

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