SFPE and Bentley Systems Announce Memorial Grant

Bentley Systems, Incorporated has awarded a research grant to the Society of Fire Protection Engineers (SFPE) Scientific and Educational Foundation named in memory of FDNY Assistant Chief Donald Burns. Chief Burns died in the collapse of the World Trade Center Towers on September 11, 2001, while setting up his command post to direct the evacuation.

Through its partnership with SFPE, Bentley Systems is awarding $25,000 annually in grant funds over a period of five years. The purpose of the Chief Donald J. Burns Memorial Research Grant is to integrate information modeling as a means of improving infrastructure safety and first responder preparedness.

“It is with the deepest gratitude and highest respect for our nation’s firefighters that we at Bentley Systems announce our new grant program with the Society of Fire Protection Engineers,” Bentley Systems CEO Greg Bentley said. “Its goal is to promote research and education in fire protection engineering using information modeling to minimize the impact of fire and other catastrophic events on life and property—including providing our first responders with the infrastructure knowledge they need to do their jobs safely. We dedicate this initiative to Chief Donald Burns of the Fire Department of New York, who was among the 343 firefighters and paramedics that gave their lives in the collapse of New York City’s Twin Towers on September 11, 2001. We salute the courage, heroism, and sacrifice of Chief Burns and his fellow first responders.”

Bentley continued, “Chief Burns’ entire family has been and continues to be dedicated to fire safety, and I’ve learned from his brother-in-law, Bentley Systems Vice President Lew Reed, that Chief Burns was particularly inquisitive and innovative about applying technology to first responder tactics in emergency situations. That’s what inspired us at Bentley to provide support for this research.”

Annually. the Chief Donald J. Burns Memorial Research Grant will fund one or more baccalaureate, masters, and doctorate student global research projects that apply information modeling to improving emergency responder safety when training for, responding to, and operating during building emergencies.

The grant will be awarded to research focused on the use of information management technology that:

  • Provides “real-time” building specific information to key fire department personnel during and in response to emergency operations;
  • Uses the principles of fire dynamics to predict how fire service operations will impact conditions within a building;
  • Provides information to fire department personnel regarding the design of a building’s structural framework, structural fire protection, and how the fire may impact structural stability during a fire; and
  • Predicts how humans will behave in a specific structure during a building fire and how their actions will impact fire department operations.

“Because of this grant, we have the opportunity to improve the science and technology that is used to keep firefighters safer during building emergencies,” said SFPE Engineering Program Manager Chris Jelenewicz. “Specifically, this grant will incorporate the principles of fire protection engineering into building information management to provide tools that can be used by first responders.”