Objective - To support the objectives of the Fire Risk Reduction in Communities and Fire Risk Reduction in Buildings Programs, which is to achieve a significant reduction in the preventable burden of fire on society, communities, structures and their occupants, and the fire service through the development and implementation of measurement science and standards.
What is the new technical idea? The idea underpinning this project is that innovation in building design, materials, products and fire protection systems requires the establishment of critical solution-enabling tools (metrics, models and knowledge), and a profession properly educated to implement these innovations, that can be facilitated by marshaling the intellectual resources of those beyond NIST, including those in academia and industry. As recommended in the 2003 report of the National Research Council (NRC), there is a need to "fund a program in basic fire research and interdisciplinary fire studies to hasten the development and deployment of improved fire safety practices through more coordinated, better targeted, and significantly increased levels of fire research in the United States." This project supports measurement science, both basic and applied, which addresses key aspects of the national fire problem, consistent with EL's draft Innovative Fire Protection Roadmap and EL's strategic fire-related goals and programs. This project does not support product development.
What is the research plan? This project provides grants which support measurement science research in EL’s fire-related program areas. This project may also support Post-Doctoral Research Associates in association with the National Research Council's Post-Doctoral Program as appropriate. The cooperative agreements support critical research in the two fire-related EL programs. The research plan for each of the grants is outlined in each of the individual grant proposals and is too much information to provide here. The grants are generally not integrated except in the sense that they support critical areas in EL’s two fire related programs. Support of Post-Doctoral Research Associates through this project is decided by the Fire Research Division Group leadership (Group Leaders, Deputy Chief and Chief of the Division).
An annual notice provides information on the availability of grant funds, applicant eligibility, program objectives, and selection criteria is issued in the Federal Register when funds are appropriated by Congress. As outlined in the Federal Register, proposals are sought that support specific objectives of the division. Grant awards are competitive and are based on a review and selection process. The process starts with submission of proposals. The review for a particular grant or cooperative agreement is coordinated by a NIST staff member (Federal Program Officer or FPO), who is selected by the project Principal Investigator. A minimum of three subject matter technical experts are selected as reviewers. At a minimum, one reviewer must be external to the Fire Research Division. Potential reviewers are asked to not complete the review if there is a conflict of interest that would prevent objective evaluation of the proposal. Reviewers are asked to supply detailed comments to support their numerical ratings of the proposals. The comments will help inform the decision-making on the proposal submission and are forwarded to the authors of the proposal. The identity of reviewers is confidential. The criteria follow NSF’s National Science Board approved merit review norms.
Reviewers are asked to use four proposal evaluation criteria to rate the proposals, including the technical merit, the potential impact of the results, staff and institutional capability to do the work, and the match of the budget to the proposed work. To evaluate the technical merit, reviewers are asked to assess the clarity, rationality, organization, and innovation of the proposed work, and assign a numerical score of 0 to 35 points. Reviewers are asked to assess the potential impact and the likelihood of technical application of the results to the national fire problem, and assign a numerical score of 0 to 35 points. A link to EL’s website with its strategic fire-related goals, programs, and projects is provided. Reviewers are asked to evaluate the quality of the facilities and experience of the staff to assess the likelihood of achieving the objective of the proposal, and assign a numerical score of 0 to 15 points. Reviewers are asked to assess the budget against the proposed work to ascertain the reasonableness of the request, and assign a numerical score of 0 to 15 points.
The proposal selection process occurs in June at a Panel meeting with Fire Research Division Deputy Chief, Program Managers, and Group Leaders. Subject matter experts may be invited to participate in the discussion as appropriate. FPOs explain the reviewers’ findings and recommend acceptance or rejection. The Panel discusses proposals and the FPO answers questions to clarify proposal details. The Panel ranks the proposals and establishes a cutoff. The recommendations are forwarded to EL Headquarters for concurrence.