For more than a century, UL has advanced Fire Safety with the goals of helping prevent fires, injury and loss of life and to minimize property damage. Advances in materials, design and construction techniques offer new benefits but also present new challenges and risks, making fire more dangerous today than in the past. UL continues to progress safety science across the increasingly complex Fire Safety ecosystem. We target prevention and detection by helping develop new technologies, processes and training. We also address reaction, containment and suppression by conducting large-scale live burn experiments and working with industry partners to maximize safety. In addition, we work closely with the firefighting community to monitor and analyze personal protective equipment with the goal of helping make firefighters safer, better equipped and more informed.

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The following scientists, researchers and engineers are actively working on New Science at UL:

Thomas Chapin, Ph.D.
Vice President of Corporate Research and Corporate Fellow

Dr. Tom Chapin is an authority on materials science and fire behavior. His fire research involves content flammability and sources of ignition; fire services education and training in fire ignition, fire growth and fuel load calculation; and fire research on materials and plastics, including corrosion, decomposition, ignition and long-term stability. The corporate research team he leads is involved in the detailed study of smoke from a variety of materials in order to facilitate new detection schemes and the development of new smoke suppressant technology. Dr. Chapin has also been active in our restricted substances program, particularly its application to materials and products related to Fire Safety. A William Henry Merrill Society member, Dr. Chapin’s technical papers have been published extensively since 1977, and his work in copper and fiber-optic cable technology has resulted in 17 U.S. patents. He was an honors scholar graduate of the University of Connecticut, with a Bachelor of Science in chemistry in 1974. He earned his doctorate in polymer chemistry from the Institute of Materials Science at the University of Connecticut in 1978.

“We’re partnering with the Cincinnati College of Medicine, McGill University and the University of Illinois to develop and advance our research on acute health risks and chronic effects caused by heavy metals, toxicants and carcinogens in smoke.”

— Thomas Chapin, Ph.D.

Pravinray D. Gandhi, Ph.D.
Business Development Director and Corporate Fellow

Dr. Pravinray Gandhi is well known in both the North American and international fire protection communities as a leading fire researcher and, perhaps more significantly, for translating the products of fire research into economically useful applications in testing and certification of materials, products and systems. Thanks in large part to Dr. Gandhi, a Corporate Fellow of the William Henry Merrill Society, UL is able to study a range of variables through analytical modeling techniques, permitting a wide range of features and conditions to be evaluated through fewer tests. These new technologies have enhanced UL’s reputation, leading to an increase in the demand for UL’s unique fire capabilities.


Thomas Fabian, Ph.D.
Manager, Fire Hazards Research Team

Dr. Thomas Fabian has a doctorate in polymer science from the University of Connecticut and a Bachelor of Science in chemical engineering from Carnegie Mellon University. He is a UL Mark of Excellence recipient for research on smoke characterization and a Fire Protection Research Foundation Ronald Mengel Award recipient for research on smoke detection.

“We are working to understand how the new materials and technologies in today’s home impact fire growth and life safety. Our goal is to improve life safety by predicting and preventing potential hazards before they occur.”

— Thomas Fabian, Ph.D.

Stephen Kerber
Director of the UL Firefighter Safety Research Institute

Stephen Kerber is an expert on improving firefighter safety, fire service ventilation, lightweight construction and smoke management fire modeling. A 13-year veteran of the fire service, Mr. Kerber spent most of his service at the College Park Fire Department in Prince George’s County, Md., where he served at ranks up through deputy chief. He received his bachelor’s and master’s in fire protection engineering from the University of Maryland and is currently working on his doctorate in fire safety engineering at Lund University in Sweden. Mr. Kerber is also a registered professional engineer.


Mahmood Tabaddor, Ph.D.
Research Manager and Distinguished Member of Technical Staff

Dr. Mahmood Tabaddor leads the Predictive Modeling Global Center of Excellence. He received his master of science in mechanical engineering from the University of Michigan and his doctorate in engineering mechanics from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. He has extensive experience in applying high-performance computing (HPC) tools during his tenure at Bell Labs and DaimlerChrysler. At UL, Dr. Tabaddor is responsible for developing and executing strategies that would further the use of HPC tools in advancing safety science. He also employs a risk management framework for analyzing hazards related to fire and electrical safety.

“Our fire modeling is about providing new insights into Fire Safety. Coupled with our expertise and experience in fire testing, UL is advancing Fire Safety in dramatic ways.”

— Mahmood Tabaddor, Ph.D.

Paul W. Brazis Jr., Ph.D.
Research Manager and Distinguished Member of Technical Staff

Dr. Paul Brazis leads the Electrical Safety Center of Excellence. His responsibilities include conducting project planning and providing technical mentoring. His areas of focus include arc fault/arc flash phenomena, arc and ground fault protection (AFCI/GFCI) for residential (AC) and photovoltaic (DC) systems, electromagnetic hazards, RFI/EMI interference and alternative lighting, including OLED, LED and CFL. Dr. Brazis has a doctorate in electrical engineering from Northwestern University.

“UL has been involved in arcing work for decades, but now our focus is on applying 21st-century research tools and methods, such as statistical analysis, large data sets and state-of-the-art characterization equipment. This is what is new and novel in what we do.”

— Paul W. Brazis Jr., Ph.D.

Carl K. Wang, Ph.D.
Research Manager

Dr. Carl Wang leads the materials science research team in Taiwan that supports UL’s global research activities. He is working on research involving lithium-ion batteries, photovoltaics and biofuels. Dr. Wang has a doctorate in mechanical engineering from the University of Southern California and a master’s in mechanical engineering from National Sun Yat-sen University.


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Karter, M. "Fire Loss in the United States during 2012," National Fire Protection Association, September 2013. Web: November 2013.


"Fire safety in ISO — Information about ISA/TC 92," ISO/TC92 Fire Safety Secretariat. Web: December 2013.


"Fires in the Home," European child Safety Alliance, September 2012. Web: 2 December 2013.


"Home Fires," FEMA, 3 April 2013. Web: 19 November 2013.