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NIST And USFA Strengthen Fire-Fighting

American fire prevention and firefighting efforts took a step forward today when the Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology and the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s United States Fire Administration announced joint plans to better meet the research needs of the fire safety community.

NIST Acting Director Robert E. Hebner and USFA Administrator Carrye Burley Brown formalized efforts for enhanced cooperation between their two organizations in a memorandum of understanding signed in a ceremony held at the U.S. House of Representatives Science Committee hearing room and hosted by the Congressional Fire Services Institute.

“NIST and the USFA have always been partners in efforts to reduce national fire losses,” said Hebner. “This agreement coordinates research critical to this nation’s fire safety community. It provides maximum payoff for the taxpayers’ investment in fire safety research and development.”

“It is a USFA priority to initiate research and evaluation procedures that will improve fire prevention and protection nationwide,” said Brown. “This effort is reflected and enhanced by today’s agreement as we reaffirm USFA’s commitment to work with the scientists and engineers at NIST.”

The agreement calls for improved and more effective coordination of fire safety efforts through mutual consultation, research coordination and technology transfer. The two organizations promise to:

  • consult on the content and priorities of NIST fire research;
  • improve the exchange of information—between the two organizations and with the fire safety community—relating to research needs and results;
  • increase the transfer of technology between USFA, NIST and their customers;
  • establish joint research program planning, reviews and coordination; and
  • set guidelines for formulating and conducting joint and cooperative research activities, support and/or technical assistance tasks.

To develop and maintain a national fire research and technology strategy and coordinate its implementation, NIST and USFA fire officials will meet at least every two months to review progress, accomplishments and priorities. NIST and USFA also will coordinate library and web site services and share acquisition lists and related fire information.

Finally, USFA and NIST have agreed to hold an annual conference on fire prevention and control. Conference participants, who will help set a national fire research and technology development agenda, will include the fire research community, fire service representatives, federal agencies and other end users or customers.

Under the 1974 Fire Prevention and Control Act, the USFA has responsibility for developing, testing and evaluating equipment for use by the nation’s fire rescue and civil defense service. The law gives NIST responsibility for performing and supporting research on all aspects of fire to provide scientific and technical knowledge applicable to the prevention and control of fires. The act also stipulates that the content and priorities of the NIST fire research program are determined in consultation with the USFA administrator.

The NIST fire research program is an integral part of the NIST Building and Fire Research Laboratory. Research by BFRL’s fire safety engineering and fire science divisions generate measurement methods, data and predictive tools that both help fire safety officials combat fires and help industry improve fire safety technologies and develop fire-resistant products. This includes creating tools that fire safety officials and industry can use to estimate the hazard of fire in facilities and identifying cost-effective ways to reduce fire losses.

The mission of the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s U.S. Fire Administration is to provide leadership, coordination and support for the nation’s fire prevention and control, fire training and education, and emergency medical services activities.

Released November 5, 1997, Updated November 27, 2017