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North America Conference & Expo: Freedom to Design
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Conference Invite

We invite you to join your colleagues and other fire protection industry professionals as we convene for our 2015 Conference & Expo at the Loews Hotel in Philadelphia, PA, November 8-13, 2015. This annual event is THE source for technical information and technology for fire protection engineers, fire safety engineers, fire engineers and allied professionals.

This year’s conference holds special distinction, as 2015 also marks SFPE’s 65th anniversary. In 1950, a group of fire protection engineers banded together and established SFPE as a membership section of NFPA. Sixty-five years later, SFPE has grown to be a thriving independent association made up of over 4,000 members across over 80 countries, all of whom are actively working towards SFPE’s vision of being the leaders in engineering a fire safe world.

We have a great technical program planned on a variety of timely and interesting topics, along with reports from our CEO, President, and Treasurer; our annual awards program; the Chapter Leadership Forum; the Expo; and a host of other activities. And in recognition of our 65th Anniversary, we have a special keynote presentation on the legacy of SFPE, by David A. Lucht, P.E., FSFPE, Professor & Director Emeritus, Worcester Polytechnic Institute; Peter Lund, CAE, SFPE’s First Executive Director for 25 years.


We look forward to seeing you in Philadelphia in November.



Daniel Bak, Ph.D., P.E., FSE, Senior Forensic Fire Engineer, Scientific Expert Analysis Limited

Overcoming Cultural Differences in the Practice of Fire Protection Engineering

Globalism is not systematic in every aspect of fire and life safety practice. Even though the intent of fire and life safety is universal, its application is not. One area that has for a long time trailed, but was linked to the fire and life safety systems, is the application of the famous “American Disability Act” (ADA). Slowly but surely, ADA requirements found themselves in the American Building Codes. Even more slowly, these requirements also ended up, in various degrees, in regulations throughout the world. This presentation will demonstrate how one aspect of ADA was successfully accepted and implemented in a culturally very different environment.



Recently Dr. Bak joined S-E-A Ltd. as a Senior Forensic Fire Engineer. His new role brings together over 35 years of cumulated experience in fire protection engineering and performance-approach to be applied in the most testing and challenging environment of the litigation world. Prior of his return to the States, Dr. Bak did an engineering circuit that included New Zealand, Australia, Singapore, Japan, and Thailand where performance-based approaches are rather the norm. His career did include the role of the Authority Having Jurisdiction where he appreciated the thinking as well as the demands and requirements of the Fire Service.


Dr. Bak has had extensive experience in Code Consultation in various jurisdictions in the United States and around the world as well as hands-on practice of designs of all type of fire suppression, fire alarm, and mass notification systems globally.

Dr. Bak has, historically, combined his acquired academic and practical experience to serve clients nationally and internationally with the best cost-effective fire engineering and risk sensible solutions. The presentation that he will share with you is just one example of many demanding projects he spearheaded. Dr. Bak is a past president of the SFPE Singapore Chapter.


Carl Baldassarra, P.E., FSFPE, Principal, Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates

Freedom to Design: How Much Freedom Is There in Today’s FPE Environment?

Mr. Baldassarra will examine the question posed in the title of the presentation which is based upon the 2015 meeting’s theme. Looking back at practice to a time frame of about forty years ago, evolution of code requirements from minimal to today’s “minimum” requirements of the code. Mr. Baldassarra will review the evolution of major fire protection requirements in the codes over the last 40 years with focus on requirements for sprinklers, fire detection and alarm systems, egress design and general construction, asking the question: is there anything left for FPEs to engineer? He proposes an appropriate analytical tool for measuring the effectiveness of major new proposals for our codes and standards, and will review examples of over-specified designs that FPEs must deal with. He will pose the question: Don’t we have more important changes we can be making, changes that actually move the needle on the fire safety scale, as opposed to changes that move the bank balances of the special interest groups?

Mr. Baldassarra will examine the code changes from 40 years ago and compare that with the most recent changes in the model code process. Finally, he will examine the structure behind the current code development system and proposes some changes to bring more science into the process.



Carl Baldassarra is a Principal at Wiss, Janney Elstner and Associates, consulting engineers, in Northbrook, Illinois, and leads the firm’s fire protection practice group. He has a BS degree in fire protection engineering, a Master’s degree in business, and is a licensed engineer in several states.

Mr. Baldassarra leads project teams involving fire protection/life safety analysis, code consultation, fire protection system design, loss investigation, and litigation support. He has been very active in a number of ICC and NFPA codes and standards-making technical committees. He is currently Chair of ICC’s Code Technology Committee.

Prior to joining WJE, Mr. Baldassarra was Executive Vice President at RJA and President of Schirmer Engineering Corporation. A 40-year veteran of the fire protection engineering profession, he is well-versed in life safety analysis, systems design, code compliance, performance-based design, fire investigation and project management. Carl has also been active in the Society of Fire Protection Engineers, serving on its Board of Directors and as its President in 2014.


Jim Crawford, Project Manager, Vision 20/20

Vision 20/20

Jim Crawford is the Project Manager for Vision 20/20, a national grassroots effort to help improve fire prevention efforts in the U.S. The strategic plan that began Vision 20/20 identified specific gaps in the national framework of prevention efforts that could receive additional emphasis. Jim will review the strategies that arose from that gap analysis, provide a brief progress report on what has evolved since the original plan was developed in 2008, and relate it to the mission of the Society of Fire Protection Engineers overall. He will also incorporate the concept of “Freedom to Design” as it relates to the partnership between SFPE and Vision 20/20.



Jim Crawford is the project manager for Vision 20/20. He is a member of and former chair of the NFPA technical committee on professional qualifications for fire marshals. He is the author of Fire Prevention Organization and Management and author of the prevention chapter in Managing Fire and Rescue Services. Jim writes a monthly column on fire and life safety for Fire and Rescue Magazine and is often a speaker on the topic. Jim retired from the active fire service after 35 years, ending his career as the Deputy Chief and Fire Marshal of Vancouver, WA. He is a fellow of the Institution of Fire Engineers, past President of the International Fire Marshal’s Association, and a life member of the International Association of Fire Chiefs. Jim has been awarded the R. Wayne Powell Excellence in Fire Prevention Award; the Fire Protection Person of the Year in 2011 from the Society of Fire Protection Engineers; and the Dr. Anne W. Phillips Leadership in Fire Safety Education award from the International Fire Service Training Association and the Congressional Fire Services Institute.


Jim has an AS Degree from Clackamas Community College in Fire Science, and a BS in Management and Communications from Concordia University.


Kevin McGrattan, Ph.D., FSFPE, Mathematician, National Institute of Standards and Technology

Deconstructing the Zone Fire Model CFAST

The most recent survey of computer fire models by the consulting firm Combustion Science and Engineering lists only three zone fire models that are actively supported. There are fifty models listed as “Archived,” or in other words not actively supported. One of the three supported models, Consolidated Fire and Smoke Transport or CFAST, has not undergone any significant changes to its core algorithms in over a decade. In this presentation, we will describe efforts to simplify and better document its core features, remove antiquated and unvalidated features, perform verification and validation studies in association with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and improve the visualization of its results using Smokeview, the same visualization program used by the Fire Dynamics Simulator (FDS). The purpose of this exercise is not to expand the capability of CFAST, but rather to bolster its core functionality, ease of use, speed, and validity. Many of the features being removed are rarely used or more appropriate for a computational fluid dynamics model like FDS. CFAST is far more effective as a means of applying the classic empirical correlations of fire science in an easy to use, fast, and transparent computer program.



Kevin McGrattan is the principal developer of the Fire Dynamics Simulator (FDS), a computational fluid dynamics model of fire. Over the past decade, he has worked with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission to verify and validate a number of different fire models including FDS and CFAST. He holds a bachelor’s degree in applied mathematics from Columbia University and a masters and Ph.D. from the Courant Institute of New York University.


Jaime Moncada, P.E., General Director, International Fire Safety Consulting

Performance-Based Design in Latin America – How Feasible It Is

Latin America as a whole has seen a tremendous transformation in the last decade. Standards of living have improved across the board, with poverty rates falling to all-time lows. New buildings and modern industrial plants have been erected around the region: from very tall buildings in Panama and Chile, to modern airports in Uruguay and Ecuador, to large shopping centers in Mexico and the Dominican Republic, to underground hydroelectric plants in Peru and Colombia, all needing some level of performance-based fire safety design. However, for a region accustomed to home-grown engineering and where few practicing fire safety engineers reside, how feasible is it to expect that effective fire protection engineering practices are implemented in complex buildings? This presentation will not only address this issue, but provide an overview of the fire safety problem in Latin America and a review of the regulatory environment.



An experienced fire protection engineer whose 28 year-long career has had a special emphasis in projects throughout Latin-America in the oil & gas, industrial, institutional and commercial sectors. He has also worked in projects in North America, Europe and Asia. He is a graduate in fire protection engineering, with a master degree in technology management, both from the University of Maryland. He is a licensed fire protection engineer (PE) in the USA, served as Vice President of SFPE’s Board of Directors, founder of NFPA’s Latin American Section, columnist with NFPA Fire Journal Latinoamericano and co-editor of NFPA’s Manual de Protección Contra Incendios, 5th Edition in Spanish. He is also the Director – Professional Development Latin America for NFPA and for NFPA, he is instructor of several fire codes. Also, he has documented, on behalf of NFPA, many of largest fires that have occurred in Latin America in recent years.


J. Gordon Routley, Eng., FSFPE, FIFireE, Division Chief, Montreal Fire Department

The Lac Mégantic Incident – A Worst Case Scenario

Shortly after midnight on July 6, 2013 a runaway freight train consisting of 72 tank cars of Bakken crude oil derailed in the heart of the town of Lac Mégantic Québec. The downtown area was immediately engulfed in a massive fire that claimed the lives of 47 people who had no opportunity to escape.


This presentation tells the story of the incident, with a focus on the risk factors associated with the surface transportation of large quantities of highly flammable liquids, the chain of circumstances that produced an almost unpredictable event, the magnitude of the situation and its consequences. The objective is to make participants aware of the problem in all of its dimensions.


Measures to address the risk factors associated with rail transportation of crude oil are a topic of public concern and specific interest to fire protection engineers. This presentation will provide the opportunity to gain a professional perspective on the key aspects of the issue.



J. Gordon Routley, eng., FSFPE, FIFireE is currently a Division Chief with the Montreal Fire Department. He has worked for more than 45 years in the fire service in the United States and Canada and , during that time, he has been directly involved in many notable incidents as either a participant or as an incident investigator and analyst. His dual perspective as a fire protection engineer and senior fire officer is often valued in bridging the gap between two closely related professions.


Arthur Schwartz, Deputy Executive Director & General Counsel, National Society of Professional Engineers

Engineering Ethics: You be the Judge

An interactive session featuring select case studies on engineering ethics and professional practice issues. Among the issues to be discussed include conflict of interest, duty of confidentiality, protection of the public health and safety, professional competence, duty to employer and client, sustainable design and other ethics/professional practice/legal/liability issues affecting fire protection engineers.



Arthur Schwartz is the deputy executive director and general counsel of the National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE) and also serves as the Executive Director of the National Academy of Forensic Engineers (NAFE) a NSPE Affinity Group. His responsibilities include serving as staff director to the NSPE Board of Ethical Review, Licensure & Qualifications for Practice Committee, Professional Liability Committee, and Engineers Joint Contract Documents Committee.


Schwartz holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the State University of New York at Buffalo (1977) and a Juris Doctor degree from the American University/Washington College of Law (1980). Schwartz is a member of the American Bar Association, as well as the District of Columbia, Florida, and Virginia Bar Associations. He is also a certified association executive (CAE).


Schwartz writes both an ethics column and a legal column in NSPE's monthly publication, PE magazine, and has written extensively for various professional journals on matters involving ethics, professional liability, contracts, and engineering licensing and has participated as a guest lecturer at many colleges and universities, federal and state agencies, and national professional association conventions.


Schwartz has authored more than 400 published ethics decisions and has written dozens of articles and papers addressing such topics as the protection of the public health and safety, conflicts of interest, duty of confidentiality, professional competency, liability, risk management, contracts, insurance, and other professional practice issues. Schwartz, a native of New York City, has resided in Arlington, Virginia, since 1980 with his wife Marsha Lederman, an illustrator. They have two adult children, Zach and Genna.


Conference Planning Committee

  • Michael Madden, P.E., FSFPE, Senior Fire Protection Engineer, AMEC Foster Wheeler (co-chair)
  • Michael Venneri, P.E., Senior Fire Protection Engineer, LaSalle Engineering (co-chair)
  • Daniel Bak, Ph.D., P.E., CEO, International Fire Compliance
  • Melissa Franco, Meetings & Education Manager, SFPE
  • Paul Hart, P.E., Regional Field Team Leader, AIG
  • Greg Jakubowski, P.E., FSFPE, Principal and Chief Engineer, Fire Planning Associates, Inc.
  • Chris Jelenewicz, P.E., FSFPE, senior Manager, Engineering Practice, SFPE
  • Bill Kehoe, MIFireE, Vision 20/20, Strategy 3 Coordinator, Institution of Fire Engineers, USA Branch
  • Zachary Niehues, Campus Fire Marshal, University of Colorado at Boulder




Sunday, November 8, 2015 - Tuesday, November 10, 2015



Loews Philadelphia Hotel

1200 Market Street

Philadelphia, PA 19107





Melissa Franco

Meetings & Education Manager




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