This expert has over 40 years of experience in fire safety science, having been the first person to earn a Ph.D. in Fire Protection Engineering in 1976. He currently specializes in lending fire safety science support to investigations of fires and explosions.   He is a Principal Member of NFPA’s Technical Committee on Fire Investigations, which develops the standard guide for investigation of fires and explosions, NFPA 921. 

He is also well known for having invented the Cone Calorimeter and the large-scale (furniture) calorimeter while he was doing research for NIST.  Both of these apparatuses are based on the oxygen consumption principle and are in use in laboratories around the world.  He has authored over 300 technical publications, regularly teaches groups of fire investigators, and lectures at scientific symposia.  He is currently working on a new book on Electrical Fires and Explosions.

Science and engineering expertise and work areas

  • instrument design
  • physics
  • heat transfer
  • civil/structural engineering
  • electrical engineering
  • combustion science
  • analytical chemistry: methods for gas analysis
  • infrared spectroscopy
  • full-scale engineering performance testing

Within fire safety science and fire protection engineering:

  • fire resistance
  • fire toxicity
  • fire testing
  • electrical fires
  • electrical explosions
  • electrical arcs
  • furniture flammability
  • fire corrosivity
  • ignitability
  • self-heating and spontaneous combustion
  • failure analysis
  • ignition of fires from electric faults and failures
  • flame spread
  • explosions
  • heat release rate
  • computer fire modeling
  • pool fires
  • smoke production
  • computer methods for handling of fire test data
  • design and development of fire test ap­paratuses and in­strumenta­tion



University of California, Berkeley, Ph.D., Fire Protection Engineering, 1976.  Was the first person ever to be awarded a Ph.D. degree in Fire Protection Engineering.
University of California, Berkeley, M.S., Structural Engineering, 1972.


Swarthmore College, A.B., Physics, 1968. Also, concentration in electrical engineering.


Professional experience

2002:   Worcester Polytechnic Institute. Adjunct Full Professor, Spring Semester. Taught Special Topics—Ignition Phenomena in the Dept. of Fire Protection Engineering.

1998:   University of British Columbia. Lecturer, Winter Session. Taught fire dynamics to Master’s degree students in the Fire Protection Engineering program.

1977 ‑ 1993 : National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), Center for Fire Research/BFRL, Fire Prevention Engineer (note that prior to 1988 NIST was called the U.S. National Bureau of Standards). At NIST, he headed up various programs and research groups in the area of materials flammability, fire toxicity, test method develop­ment, upholstered furniture flammability, building code fire safety requirements, and fire resistance.

1973 ‑ 1976 : U. of Califor­nia, Fire Test Laboratories, Research Specialist. During his work at UCB, he specialized in fire modeling, test furnace design and fundamental studies on fire endurance.

1969 – 1971 : U. S. Army Corps of Engineers, Philadelphia, Civil Engineer. He designed roads, bridges, and waterworks for the Army Corps of Engineers.

1968 – 1969 : University of Pennsylvania, Assistant instructor, Physics department. He taught laboratory courses to physics undergraduates at the University of Pennsylvania.


Society memberships

  • American Society for Testing and Materials (since 1973)
  • The Combustion Institute (since 1975)
  • International Association of Fire Safety Science (since 1989)
  • International Association of Arson Investigators (since 1996)
  • International Code Council; formerly ICBO (since 1993)
  • National Fire Protection Association (since 1975)
  • Society of Fire Protection Engineers (since 1991; grade of Fellow)


Technical committee participation

  • ANSI US National Committee Technical Advisory Group for IEC/TC 108 Safety of Electronic Equipment, Member (2012- ).
  • ASTM Committee D-9 on Electrical and Electronic Insulating Materials, Member (1991- ).
  • ASTM Committee D-20 on Plastics, Member (1996- ).
  • ASTM Committee E‑5 on Fire Standards (1973 -  ); served as Chairman of Subcommittee E-5.21 on Smoke and Combustion Products (1998 – 2003).
  • ASTM Committee E-27 on Hazard Potential of Chemicals, Member (1999- ).
  • ASTM Committee E-30 on Forensic Sciences, Member (2004- ).
  • International Association of Fire Safety Science – management Committee (2005-  )
  • ISO Technical Commission of Fire Safety, TC 92/SC 1/WG 2 Working Group on Ignitability, Assigned U.S. expert.
  • NFPA Technical Committee on Fire Investigations, NFPA 921, Member (2006-  ).
  • NFPA Safety to Life/Technical Committee on Furnishings and Contents, Member (1994- ).
  • SFPE Standards Making Committee on Calculating Fire Exposures to Structures Calculating Fire Exposures to Structures, Member (2004- ).
  • SFPE Task Group on Fire Exposures, Member (2002-2004).
  • UL Standards Technical Panel STP 723 Surface Burning Testing of Building Materials, Member (2003-  ).
  • UL Standards Technical Panel STP 1040 Fire Tests of Insulated Wall Constructions, Member (2004-  ).
  • UL Standards Technical Panel STP 1820 Fire Tests of Pneumatic Tubing and Plastic Sprinkler Pipe for Flame and Smoke Characteristics (2005-).