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Ask an Expert

Paul Brazis Jr.

Research Manager and Distinguished Member of Technical Staff

How have advances in new materials and construction techniques impacted fire safety?

I have seen our research into the behavior of construction materials lead to changes in building codes, which have greatly improved safety. For example, the requirement of covering engineered floor beams with drywall greatly increases the time before collapse, which allows more time for evacuation and for the fire service to safely do its job.

Why is the New Science fire safety work UL is doing so important?

The work advances UL’s mission by saving lives of the general population and first responders. The work also advances our fundamental understanding of the science involved (e.g., “What is smoke?”), which improves our effectiveness in investigating real-world issues and enables us to build standards on a very solid foundation of scientific understanding.

What findings related to electrical arcing are you most proud of UL having been part of?

When I started research on arcing in 2009, I was surprised by the lack of solid technical information on arcing, specifically statistical information on arcing electrical behavior. Since arcing tends to be a random event, statistics allow us to gain understanding into its behavior with respect to a variety of environmental conditions. We were able to leverage this fundamental understanding to quantify fire risk in various situations and enable the NEC Code Panel, PDEs and other stakeholders to make informed decisions about test criteria and Code details.


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