Research interests: fire performance of materials, fire safety and flame retardancy, fire sensors, monitoring and connected systems, small-scale through real-scale fire testing and behaviour, experimental fire research, fire performance of assemblies, fire suppression, fire fighter training and applications, chemical emissions from fires, liquid pool fires, wildland and forest fires
Beth Weckman is an Engineer and Professor in the Department of Mechanical and Mechatronics Engineering and a member of University of Waterloo’s Fire Research Group, as well as an Executive Member of ASTM International and the International Association of Fire Safety Science. She heads the Fire Research and Safety Lab at the University of Waterloo.
Weckman is a specialist in fire safety, applying the basic principles of fire science in order to understand the behaviour of liquid pool and spill fires, full-scale fires and flammability and performance of materials and products in fire. Weckman leads the Fire Research Group in research aimed toward better modeling fire initiation and spread, developing advanced methods for fire detection and suppression, and formulating next generation methods for fire fighting and fire safety engineering.
As a faculty member in the Department of Mechanical and Mechatronics Engineering Weckman teaches differential equations, as well as principles of fire safety engineering, such as fire dynamics, fire modelling and fire performance testing. Professor Weckman has been published in Fire and Materials, Fire Safety Journal, Journal of Fluid Mechanics, AIAA, Fire Technology, Review of Scientific Instruments and other industry and fire fighting trade publications. Weckman is the 2020 recipient of the Award of Recognition on Committee E05 Fire Standards of ASTM International.
Weckman’s experimental fire research is centered at the University of Waterloo’s Live Fire Research Facility - a 5500 ft2 free span structure that contains: The Fire and Flammability Test Lab (Mechanical and Mechatronics Engineering), The Large Fire Test Enclosure (Mechanical and Mechatronics Engineering) and The Burn ‘House’ Prop and The Wall Fire Test Unit.
- 1987, Doctorate, Mechanical Engineering, University of Waterloo
- 1982, Master's, Mechanical Engineering, University of Waterloo
- 1979, Bachelor's, Mechanical Engineering, University of Waterloo
Performance of Materials and Assemblies under Fire Exposure
Detailed investigations are conducted into the response and fire endurance of individual materials, normally formulated with a matrix of different fire retardant and heat sink additives. Testing is conducted initially in The Fire and Flammability Test Lab on individual materials at small-scale to define characteristics of burning for various formulations. It can then progress to large-scale testing of as-built assemblies under real fire exposures and/or controlled exposures designed to simulate those which occur during real fires. These take place in The Large Test Enclosure, The Wall Fire Test Unit or through custom designed exterior fire scenarios. In a current series of experiments, research is being conducted to characterize the fire performance and response of a range of different exterior wall materials and assemblies under various fire exterior fire exposure situations.
Full-scale fire experiments are conducted in the two-storey steel 'burn house' at the University of Waterloo Live Fire Research Facility. In a current series of furniture fire experiments, couches are ignited in the living room and allowed to burn under differing ventilation conditions set up to mimic those in newer energy efficient buildings. Different couch material combinations, with varying degrees of fire-retardant, are used. Materials are tested at small-scale to better understand the impact of materials on their combustion behaviour. Differences in fire growth, smoke production and toxic gas evolution are measured at large scale to develop correlations and methods necessary to apply small-scale test data to large, real fire scenarios. New sensor systems are designed to determine accumulated gas exposure levels in real time. Data and new sensor development is critical in design and implementation of next generation, connected fire sensing and monitoring systems and protocols to improve occupant safety during evacuation and emergency responder decision-making and safety in different fire situations.
Research with and for the Fire Services
The University of Waterloo Live Fire Research Facility has proudly partnered with the fire services for over twenty years. These collaborations have evolved into many unique technology and research exchanges with our local fire departments (City of Kitchener Fire Department, City of Waterloo Fire Department and Cambridge Fire Department), and with fire service partners in the Royal Canadian Navy, across Ontario (Ottawa Fire Services, Ontario Fire Marshal, Municipal Fire Prevention Officers, International Association of Arson Investigators® (IAAI®) to name a few) and in Alberta (City of Calgary, City of Edmonton Emergency Services and Stony Plains Fire Department). Collaborative projects include small-scale and field-scale experimentation, complimented by computer modeling of different fire scenarios. Training fires and fire training buildings have been designed and instrumented to determine thermal fields from fires and within enclosures, and to estimate heat flux from the fires to their surroundings. Joint training and research exercises using abandoned houses as the laboratory allowed characterization of the thermal environment developed during house fires and flashover, study of natural vs. positive pressure forced ventilation of fires, investigation into use of various suppression agents and methodologies, and targeted studies into safety of turn-out gear, fire radiation, residential sprinklers and natural gas explosions. Many of these types of exercises continue through full-scale research at the UW Fire Research Facility. Through real time display of data, these collaborative field exercises provide a hands-on, realistic educational experience for University of Waterloo students and fire service personnel.
- B. Forrest, E. Weckman, P. Senez, N. Ryder and M. DiDomizio (2020) Smoke Development and Movement in Ventilation-Limited Conditions within a Multi-storey House, accepted, Fire and Materials, Special Issue: Building Fires, FAM-19-0249.R1.
- J. Ellingham2, H. Carton1, E.J. Weckman (2019) “Comparing Smoke Density Chamber and Full-Scale Test Results”, 3rd IFireSS, Ottawa, Canada, June, pp. 413-419
- I. Vermesi, M.J. DiDomizio, F. Richter, E.J. Weckman and G. Rein (2017) “Pyrolysis and spontaneous ignition of wood under transient irradiation: Experiments and a-priori predictions”, Fire Safety Journal, 91: 218-225 [DOI: 10.1016/j.firesaf.2017.03.081]; also presented at IAFSS 2017, Lund Sweden.
- M.J. DiDomizio, N.L. Ryder and E.J. Weckman (2016), “Evaluation of electrochemical sensors for use in fire testing”, Interflam2016: 14th Int’l Conf. on Fire Sci. & Eng. Windsor UK, July pp 969-980.
- Williams-Bell, FM and Kapralos, B and Hogue, A and Murphy, BM and Weckman, EJ, Using serious games and virtual simulation for training in the fire service: a review, Fire Technology, 51(3), 2015, 553 - 584
- DiDomizio, Matthew J and Weckman, Elizabeth J, An Evaluation of Methodologies for Determining Delay Times in the Cone Calorimeter Fire Test, Journal of Testing and Evaluation, 44(3), 2015
Please see Beth Weckman’s ResearchGate profile for a list of recently published articles.