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Unplanned adventures in fire science, engineering, and regulation

Event organised by Ingenieurs et Scientifique de France

30 April 2024
18:00 - 19:00 BST (GMT+1)
The Caledonian Club
9 Halkin Street
London, SW1X 7DR
United Kingdom

This event has now ended

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Join us for this exciting and thought-provoking lecture. Professor Bisby explains how scientists and engineers must undertake in-depth investigations into the causes and effects of fire disasters to learn lessons and inform both the revision and development of regulations.

At about 9.00 am on a Tuesday morning in September 2001, shortly after arriving at his office at Queen’s University, in the small town of Kingston, Canada, a 2nd-year structural engineering Ph.D. student received a phone call from his then fiancée. A Boeing 767 had crashed into one of the World Trade Center towers in Manhattan.

He turned on CNN. Three minutes later, a second plane crashed into the other tower. For the next few hours, the young man – whose PhD project happened to be on the fire-induced collapse of vertical load-supporting elements in buildings – watched in disbelief as both World Trade Center towers burned, and then, inconceivably, collapsed completely, killing 2,763 people. He had to understand how this had happened.

Sixteen years later, at about 6.00 am on a Wednesday morning in June 2017, that same (albeit less young) man – now a professor of fire and structures in the UK’s leading academic fire safety engineering research centre – awoke, in a hotel room in Lund, Sweden, to a continuous stream of phone calls, emails, and text messages.

A residential tower block in central London was on fire. He turned on the BBC and watched in disbelief as the building became almost entirely engulfed in flames. 72 people would lose their lives. He had to understand how this had happened.

If you wish to attend, please email [email protected] to book your space.

Organised by

Ingenieurs et Scientifiques de France British Section

Ingenieurs et Scientifiques de France British Section

The British Section of IESF, a French Learned Society with branches worldwide, is dedicated to linking Anglo-French engineering and science.


17:30 - 18:00

Tea and coffee

18:00 - 19:00


19:00 - 19:30

Lecture ends, followed by a drinks reception


Luke Bisby

Luke Bisby

School of Engineering, University of Edinburgh

personal chair of fire and structures and director of discipline for civil and environmental engineering

Read more

Luke Bisby

Prof Luke Bisby is personal chair of fire and structures, and director of discipline for civil and environmental engineering within the School of Engineering at The University of Edinburgh. He is co-editor-in-chief of Fire Safety Journal (Elsevier) and has extensive experience in fire safety and structural engineering research and consultancy, instruction as expert witness, university teaching and administration, promotion of public understanding of science and engineering, and wide-ranging professional activities.

As a leading fire safety expert whose work has been particularly influential at the interface between structural engineering and fire safety engineering, Luke advises industrial and government fire safety research organisations and regulatory bodies internationally. He is a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering, the Institutions of Fire Engineers and Structural Engineers, and the Royal Society of Edinburgh. 

For the past 6+ years, Luke has been instructed as expert witness to the Grenfell Tower Inquiry. His work for the Inquiry has included a detailed forensic study of the external fire at Grenfell Tower, a large programme of experiments to identify and characterise the reaction-to-fire and system behaviours of materials and products used within Grenfell Tower’s external cladding system, and a detailed historical study of fire safety regulation, testing, and previous cladding fires in the UK.

For more information please contact:

Shelly-Ann Russell

Sustainable Development Goals: