Adaptive Fire Testing: A new foundation stone for fire safety

01 September 2023 → 31 October 2028
European funding: framework programme
Principal investigator
Research disciplines
  • Engineering and technology
    • Structural engineering
    • Other civil and building engineering not elsewhere classified
fire probability risk surrogate modeling structural fire engineering
Other information
Project description

The current fire safety paradigm is based on a set of standardized tests which have been developed as part of a prescriptive design framework, and do not provide in-depth understanding of construction products’ fire performance. The resulting incomplete fire performance characterization hampers the much needed innovation in the built environment. The current fire safety paradigm also places tremendous emphasis on the expertise of controlling bodies (AHJ), making them responsible both for the specification of detailed prescriptive rules, and for the acceptance of performance based designs. This is unsustainable in the face of innovation.

AFireTest strives to induce a paradigm shift in fire safety science and engineering (FSSE). The core of AFireTest is the development of Adaptive Fire Testing whereby optimum fire tests are determined from the infinite number of possible test specifications through the maximum expected net information gain (Value of Information, VoI). This will be developed using modern glazing and load bearing glass as innovative case study, resulting in breakthroughs in fire performance understanding. Secondly, a framework for advanced ‘grey’ surrogate modelling will be developed, combining the pattern identification strengths of machine learning with fundamental FSSE constraints. This will introduce a powerful new tool to FSSE and enable the VoI optimization. A grey modelling approach will also be developed for quasi-instantaneous building specific risk evaluations, allowing a new approach to the AHJ acceptance of fire designs. The future operationalization of the new framework for fire design acceptance will require large follow-up investments. Thus, stakeholder buy-in is crucial. Therefore, AFireTest will develop a methodology for the cost-benefit evaluation of fire safety frameworks. For the first time, fire safety approaches will be evaluated from the perspective of Law and Economics, laying the groundwork for an entirely new field of study.

Funded by the European Union. Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or the European Research Council Executive Agency (ERCEA). Neither the European Union nor the authority can be held responsible for them.