The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) announced Roger Allard, Robert G. Bill, Gunnar Heskestad, and Hsiang-Cheng Kung as the winners of 2019 Phillip J. DiNenno Prize. The award and $50,000 in prize money were presented at NFPA’s Conference & Expo in San Antonio.

The prestigious DiNenno Prize recognizes groundbreaking innovations that have had a significant impact in the building, fire and electrical safety fields. The prize is named for the late Philip J. DiNenno, the greatly respected former CEO of Hughes Associates, in recognition of his extraordinary contributions to fire safety.

In 2019, DiNenno Prize is being given to four individuals. Each of these recipients has played a significant and substantive role in the successful promulgation of truly effective, occupancy-specific, fast-response fire sprinklers, which involve three independent technologies related to fire sprinkler response.

Predicting Thermally responding devices

The first innovation is showing that the constancy of a Response Time Index (RTI) in conjunction with a controlled temperature and uniform flow wind tunnel measurement, could be used to characterize a thermally responding element under typical fire exposure conditions. Also showing that this approach could produce a means of quantifying all thermally responding devices in a predictive manner for a broad range of fire environments.

The second innovation was the development of the Quick-Response (or QR) Residential fire sprinkler, which required a fast-response link combined with specific sprinkler water discharge distribution to achieve adequate life safety suppression of fires in residential settings.

Additionally, the benefit of fast-response elements showed that even with a low flow rate, a fast response, small orifice sprinkler delivering a suitable distribution of droplets was essential to suppressing fire while maintaining tenable conditions in the room of origin, which ultimately led to all major sprinkler manufacturers developing quick-response residential sprinkler products using RTI to guide their developmental work.

Early Suppression Fast Response

The third innovation was the development of the Early Suppression Fast Response, or ESFR, fire sprinkler, which required a fast-response link combined with both large droplet technology and a high sprinkler water discharge flow momentum to penetrate the high-velocity plumes of rapidly growing industrial fires in order to reach the seat of the fire.

Early Suppression Fast Response fire sprinklers are broadly used in commercial and industrial settings worldwide

Overall, the following three statements can be made with certainty: First, the use of Response Time Index technology has been overwhelmingly accepted worldwide for the characterization of fast response links. Second, Quick Response residential fire sprinklers are widely accepted and used in residential settings worldwide. And last but not least, Early Suppression Fast Response fire sprinklers are broadly used in commercial and industrial settings worldwide.

Roger Allard

Roger Allard holds Bachelor of Science degrees in both engineering and aerospace engineering from Boston University, an MBA degree from Bryant College, and a certificate in the fundamentals of plastics from New York University.

Early in his career, Allard worked at AVCO Lycoming Division and Grinnell Fire Protection Systems before a long, notable career at Factory Mutual Research Corporation (FMRC, now FM Global). For nearly 40 years, Allard primarily worked on hydraulics testing, technical writing, standards development, and training; he also authored various FM approval and legacy FMRC reports, and co-authored the automatic sprinkler section of an NFPA handbook.

He holds patents dating back to 1974 on sensitive sprinklers and fire sprinklers. Allard is a current or former member of the Rhode Island Society of Professional Engineers, the National Society of Professional Engineers, the Society of Fire Protection Engineers, the International Organization for Standardization, the Underwriters Laboratories/Factory Mutual/National Fire Sprinkler Association Standards Review Committee, NFPA, the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute, and the Delta Mu Delta National Honor Society in Business Administration.

Robert G. Bill

Robert G. Bill received his Bachelor of Science, Master of Science, and PhD degrees in mechanical engineering from Cornell University. Following post-doctoral research in turbulent combustion at the University of California Berkeley, he joined the mechanical engineering faculty of Columbia University as an assistant professor before joining Factory Mutual Research Corporation (FMRC, now FM Global), where he ultimately became a director overseeing research in fire and explosions until his retirement in 2011.

Bill is a two-time winner of NFPA’s Bigglestone Award for communication of scientific concepts in fire protection

As an FMRC director, Bill oversaw notable research efforts on the flammability tests to approve materials for use in the semi-conductor industry; the FMRC flammability research apparatus that was made commercially available as the Fire Propagation Apparatus and adopted as a standardized test method by ASTM, ISO, and NFPA; and an intermediate-scale fire test for use as a replacement of the 25-ft and 50-ft corner tests for building material flammability. He has conducted research supporting fast response technology, developed approval fire tests for water mist protection leading to the approval of the first water mist system in North America, and created a new standardized fire test for the approval of residential sprinklers.

Bill is a two-time winner of NFPA’s Bigglestone Award for communication of scientific concepts in fire protection; has served on the executive committee of the International Association for Fire Safety Science; and was elected as a lifetime honorary member of the Society of Fire Protection Engineering.

Gunnar Heskestad

He was employed at the American Standard Research Division where he discovered the edge suction method of flow control

Gunnar Heskestad received a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering degree from the University of New Hampshire, a Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering degree from Purdue University, and a PhD degree in mechanics from Johns Hopkins University specializing in fluid turbulence. Early in his career, he worked for the Allis Chalmers Research Laboratories studying hydraulic turbine blade vibration. He was employed at the American Standard Research Division where he discovered the edge suction method of flow control. Subsequently, Heskestad joined the Factory Mutual Research Corporation (now FM Global) studying fire behavior with applications to fire protection issues until his retirement in 2004.

His extensive contributions over the years include physical modeling of fire, flame heights, fire plumes, ceiling jets, air entrainment, fire detection, fire sprinkler sensitivity and response; dry-pipe transients and water demand; smoke control, heat and smoke vents; volume expansion pressures; large-fire calorimetry; and a bidirectional flow probe widely used in fire research.

Hsiang-Cheng (HC) Kung

Hsiang-Cheng (HC) Kung has a Bachelor of Science degree in mechanical engineering from Cheng Kung University in Taiwan; a Master of Science and PhD degree in fluid mechanics and heat transfer from Brown University; and an MBA degree from Babson College. He has more than 50 years of professional achievement in the research, product testing, and certifications realm, working with Factory Mutual Research Corporation (FMRC, now FM Global), Victaulic, and UL.

At FM Global, where he worked for 35 years, he conducted major research efforts related to sprinkler technology, commodity classification, fine water spray technology, foam agent suppression systems, gaseous agent suppression systems, and fire detection and smoke control.

Fire protection engineering

He served as an adjunct professor in the department of fire protection engineering at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, and on the NFPA 13D/13R Technical Committee for Residential Sprinkler Systems, the NFPA 301 Technical Committee on Merchant Vessels, the Working Committee for Chinese National Standard on Sprinkler System Design and Installations, the ISO/TC92/SC5 Committee on Fixed Fire Extinguishing Systems/Sprinkler and Water Spray Extinguishing Systems, and the Editorial Board for the Journal of Fire Protection Engineering.

His achievements have been recognized with awards and honors from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), NFPA, FMRC, the Chinese Police Academy, the Society of Fire Protection Engineers, UL, and Victaulic. He is a member of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, the Society of Fire Protection Engineers, NFPA, and the International Association for Fire Safety Science.

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