A student advised by Mechanical Engineering Professor Brian Lattimer has received recognition from the International Association for Fire Safety Science (IAFSS). A Sheldon Tieszen Student Award was awarded for the paper, "Localized Heat Transfer from Firebrands to Surfaces," authored by Elias D. Bearinger. He was joined by industry co-authors Jonathan L. Hodges, Fengchang Yang, and Christian M. Rippe.  The paper will be published at the IAFSS conference in April 2021. 

According to the paper, wildfires produce airborne pieces of burning vegetation known as firebrands which can travel great distances in high winds. These lofted embers can land in gutters, decks, and roofs and are one of the primary ways wildland fires ignite buildings. Until recently little has been known about the heat transfer capabilities of firebrands to surfaces, a critical step in engineering fire-resilient structures. Recent work from the EXTREME Lab at Virginia Tech under Dr. Brian Lattimer has focused on using infrared thermography to measure heat transfer from firebrands under various conditions. The key advantage of this technique is that it allows extremely high spatial resolution, with heat fluxes being measured on the sub-millimeter scale. This resolution is 10 times higher than most conventional measurement techniques. Using infrared thermography it was found that localized heat transfer from firebrands to surfaces can reach 80 kW/m2, up to 3.5 times higher than had previously been measured.

The Sheldon Tieszen Award is sponsored by the International FORUM of Fire Research Directors, a group composed of the directors of fire research organizations throughout the world, which aims to reduce the burden of fire (including the loss of life and property, and effects of fire on the environment and heritage) through international cooperation on fire research. The award recognizes excellence in an IAFSS symposium paper in fire safety science by a student making a significant contribution to that paper.