Fire safety thesis sparks change

17 Mar 2017

A University of Queensland researcher has been awarded the 2017 Best Thesis Award “Excellence in Research” by the International Association of Fire Safety Science (IAFSS).

Dr Cristian Maluk, UQ School of Civil Engineering Lecturer and structural fire engineering expert was recognised for having the best research thesis at PhD and Masters levels in all fields related to fire safety science and engineering.

Dr Maluk studies the fire performance of building construction materials and the resilience of structural systems during and after fire.

The winning PhD thesis, completed during Dr Maluk’s time at The University of Edinburgh, includes details about the development of a new fire-testing methodology and related equipment: the “Heat-Transfer Rate Inducing System” (H-TRIS).

H-TRIS provides more consistent and reliable experimental results, enabling fire studies with unparalleled repeatability and high statistical confidence.

Due to the clear benefits of this method, H-TRIS has already been widely adopted by other researchers and has had a significant impact on the field of study, including broadening the fire science and engineering community’s experimental capabilities.

Dr Maluk’s research also provides insights into the performance of modern, optimised concrete structures, and has improved understanding of fire-induced concrete “spalling” – when the exposed surface of heated concrete flakes away in a more or less violent manner.

“H-TRIS was first conceived to investigate fire-induced concrete spalling, but it’s great to see it now being use in a wide range of applications like in fire investigation of intumescent coatings or load-bearing timber structures,” said Dr Maluk.

“This work has the potential for broad-scale impact, transforming the way we currently design and construct fire safe structures.

“My goal is to help promote an industry-wide move away from the rigid pass/fail testing environment used for both regulatory compliance and scientific structural fire engineering research, in favour of a more flexible and knowledge-based testing environment.

“These changes would allow new and vastly different construction materials and structural systems to be developed and to flourish,” he said.

The construction of a medium and a large-scale H-TRIS testing apparatus was recently completed in the Fire Laboratories at UQ and is being used for a variety of research projects.

Dr Maluk’s PhD thesis can be viewed here.

The IAFSS award will be presented during the 12th International Symposium on Fire Safety Science to be held in Lund, Sweden in June 2017.

UQ offers a Master of Engineering, specialising in Civil and Fire Safety Engineering. More information is available here.