Stellenbosch University’s Fire Engineering Research Unit (FireSUN) has received a grant of R2.9-million from Lloyd’s Register Foundation, to develop Africa’s first-ever postgraduate programme in fire engineering.
This will help provide the expertise needed to keep the African continent safe in the case of fire. The risk of deadly fires, especially in informal settlements, remains a constant in South Africa, owing to the close proximity of housing structures, open fires and the use of paraffin for cooking and staying warm in winter.
Runaway veld fires are also often observed. South Africa has one of the highest fire related death rates per capita worldwide.
The FireSUN unit was established in 2017 and aims to reduce the impact of fire by undertaking research and building the capacity and expertise of fire and structural engineers. The team, located within the university’s department of civil engineering, is the first university research group focused on fire safety in Africa.
The grant enables the team to expand their work, by offering postgraduate degrees (Masters and Doctorates) in fire safety engineering (FSE), as well as structural fire engineering.
Two taught modules in FSE, fire dynamics, and structural design for fire safety, will be created. These modules will be rolled out in 2019 and 2020, and will be available to students and industry practitioners.
Existing modules within the Department of Civil or Mechanical Engineering will also be used.
As the research team grows and more funding is obtained, additional taught modules, such as performance-based fire design, will be developed.