The National Fire Protection Research Foundation, the research affiliate of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), was founded 40 years ago on January 5 to sponsor and promote research and the development of technology that helps to protect life and property from fire. The mission of the research group back in 1982 was to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of fire protection systems and safety messaging for the benefit of the public and workers. Seventeen years after its launch, the name of the organization changed to the Fire Protection Research Foundation (FPRF or Foundation). Today, the research arm continues to be guided by the same core principles—only with a much broader reach, given a wide array of emerging hazards, persistent life safety challenges, and global demand.
The Foundation is a separate, independent, nongovernmental organization with its own board of trustees and a team of five that effectively manages more than four dozen research projects at any given time. FPRF research reports have been downloaded by safety-focused practitioners in more than 160 countries and cover everything from fire suppression systems, emergency response, public policy, public education, detection and signaling, industrial hazards, wildfire, electrical services, and building safety.
The FPRF staff plans, facilitates, and manages research, specifically in support of the NFPA mission to make the world safer from fire, electrical, and related hazards and regularly assists NFPA technical committees with difficult problems. The Foundation works with many organizations and individuals, including project sponsors who help to fund efforts; project contractors who do the research; and advisory panels comprised of volunteers who provide subject matter expertise (panels are distinctly separate from NFPA technical committees and function according to the FPRF’s policies for the conduct of research).
“The Fire Protection Research Foundation could not have possibly had the impact it has over the past 40 years without strong support from NFPA and so many others who have funded our efforts and joined forces with us in the interest of safety,” said Amanda Kimball, the Foundation’s Executive Director. “This milestone was made possible by diverse thought leaders who recognize the value of research and a devoted FPRF team who works each day to reduce risk in the world, and we look forward to many more years of collaboration and discovery.”
The Foundation is self-funded and self-sufficient, deriving funding from management fees from consortia projects, in which project sponsors pool their funding in support of research; direct labor rates for grant-funded projects; attendance fees at FPRF-hosted symposiums; sponsors of online webinars; and occasional projects that the FPRF staff directly handles.
Each year, the Foundation hosts the Suppression, Detection, and Signaling Symposium (SUPDET®). Every three years, this becomes a joint conference with the International Conference on Automatic Fire Detection (AUBE) hosted by the University of Duisburg-Essen (Germany). SUPDET draws a diverse crowd with a vested interest in learning about advancements in suppression and detection technology. The partnership with the AUBE conference provides additional opportunities for global updates on relevant research.
To learn more about SUPDET, how the Fire Protection Research Foundation works, current FPRF projects, research reports, recent RFPs, and more, visit nfpa.org/foundation.