Fire science at TUS
In 1981, Tokyo University of Science established Department of Fire Science and Technology in its Institute for Science and Technology. The aim was to set up a research center that would promote research on the safety technology to protect human life and property from fires, and research on the fire science that supports the technology. This development was initially started by the inauguration of a course on Architectural Fire Safety Engineering when the Department of Architecture, TUS was founded some 40 years ago. In this way, TUS laid the foundations of research and education on fire science ahead of the times, when such developments were unknown in other universities. These foundations have yielded a strong track record of achievements since then, as amply illustrated in the fact that we have received two prestigious awards from the International Association for Fire Safety Science, the highest authority body of its kind in the world. The first of these was awarded for“ Meritorious achievements in research contributing to the advancement of fire safety science”, and the second was for“ Meritorious achievements in education producing numerous researchers in fire science”. In the past, Japan has suffered many fires in large buildings, which have claimed a large number of human lives. Members of the Department of Fire Science and Technology, TUS have been involved in appraising the majority of these serious building fires since 1968.
In recognition of this track record, the Department was included in the 21st CenturyCOE Program of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) in fiscal 2003, as a“ Center of Advanced Fire Safety Science and Technology for Buildings”. It is currently engaged in activities aimed at establishing itself as a research and education center on fire science and fire safety engineering at the world’s highest level. Other aims are to promote the advancement of fire safety engineering and the training of young researchers and specialist professionals. We will continue our efforts in offering innovative education and research to protect human lives and properties from fires. Following the 21st Century COE Program, which concluded in 2007, the Global COE Program 2008, which would conclude in 2012, further adopted the“ Center for Education and Research on Advanced Fire Safety Science and Technology in East Asia”. Now, the Center restarted as a five-year project after having been selected as a 2013 recipient of the Private University Strategic Research Formation Assistance Grant from the MEXT.
The aim of this program is to use the research results produced at our institution to contribute to reducing fire risks in Asia, and to protect the safety of the people who live in cities. The main content of this program can be divided into the following two themes.
Theme 1: Fire Risk Analysis by Building and Operation of a Fire Information Network
This program will therefore operate the “Forum on Fire Safety in Asia” website, which is currently being developed, and will collect fire accident information from around Asia.
Fig. 1 Home Page「Forum on Fire Safety in Asia」
Theme 2: Analysis of Fire Risk Events
Problems related to the state of combustion of outer walls that use flammable materials and problems related to the processes by which fires spread due to the relationship between the use of a space and the materials used and the generation of toxic gases have been noted in examples of fires in various cities in Asia in recent years.
In this way, we will gather fire accident information, obtain an understanding of the problems related to fire risks through “Fire risk analysis by building and operating a fire information network,” and investigate scientific explanations for these problems and the existence of safety measures based on experiments and analysis in this theme. Thus, by bringing together this information, the Asia Fire Safety Information Center website will be widely used as a source of information where the required information can be obtained immediately by users in the event that a similar fire accident occurs because it will have an explanation of the causative factors and the phenomenon as well as an accumulation of comments by experts about the factors for the spread of damage. This is expected to enhance fire safety in various cities in Asia.
Fire Research and Test Laboratory
Taking the opportunity of being adopted as the 21st Century COE Program, this laboratory was built in March 2005. It is one of the largest and most functional laboratories in the world meant solely for fire science. Built at Noda campus, it has a building area of 1,500 m2, and gross floor area of 1,900 m2, and a height of 20 m (Photo 1). Members of the Center constructed a basic plan and did the designing utilizing their wealth of experiences, so that the laboratory would enable us to promote world-leading researches on fire sciences.
In March 2006, a large scale refractory furnace was added. Other large scale experimental facilities to be included in the laboratory are composite furnace, fire-resistance assessment machines for outer wall materials, and combustion performance testing facilities, which are needed internationally, to contribute to the advancement of innovative researches.
Graduate School of Global Fire Science and Technology
The Master’s Course in Fire Science & Technology at the Tokyo University of Science’s Graduate School of Global Fire Science & Technology was established in April 2010 is the first postgraduate fire science course in Asia, and is aimed at those employed in the area of fire science and safety (such as the construction, firefighting, and nonlife insuranceindustries) as well as students from Japan and overseas who want to become fire prevention technicians and fire officers.
The graduate school represents one aspect of the MEXTs Center of Excellence (COE) program, ”Center for Education and Research on Advanced Fire Safety Science & Technology in East Asia”, being promoted by the Center for Fire Science and Technology, and aims to establish Asia’s first definitive fire science education facility. The school to familiarize students with basic theory in a practical setting uses the Fire Research Test Laboratory.
In addition to the Master’s Course, students also have the opportunity to continue their studies, such as Doctoral Course in Fire Science & Technology established in April 2012.
Fig. 2 Perspective of the Center for Fire Science and Technology
Safety and security play pivotal roles in social development. TUS has, as a core of the fire safety engineering community both domestically and internationally, contributed to their advancement. In recent years, major cities in East Asia in particular have been undergoing marked development at a speed that no other Asian countries, including Japan, have ever experienced. We have a duty to mitigate this urgent situation sufficiently and, at the same time, to develop the innovative educational research system to prevent the occurrence of such fire accidents.