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New Professor of Fire Safety: Lieuwe de Witte at the Institute for Safety (IFV)

Lieuwe de Witte has been appointed as Professor of Fire Safety at the Instituut Fysieke Veiligheid (IFV, Institute for Safety). He will take over from René Hagen, who is leaving the IFV in June this year. Rene continues his activities for the EuroFSA as a member of the core group.

Mr De Witte looks forward to getting started: “Knowledge and skills are essential to fire safety. Science is becoming increasingly important to fire safety, for example in the area of influencing human behaviour. However, a lot of the scientific knowledge is not new, but its application is. The focus will increasingly shift to Fire Safety Engineering, in which fire dynamics, fire and building physics and behavioural science and intervention science form the basis. This requires a new pupose-based approach, in which conceptual and risk-based thinking form the link between science and practice.”

Embarking on a new road
Managing director IJle Stelstra is very happy with Mr De Witte’s appointment: “His appointment aligns with the adjusted ambition and repositioning of our organisation. The world is changing rapidly due to climatic, digital, social and international developments. This brings with it new safety risks and complex social issues which affect the continuity of our society. In order to anticipate this, the institute has embarked on a new path, with the goal of further professionalising the fire service and crisis management. Mr De Witte’s background and expertise means he will be able to provide a significant contribution and further expand the Fire Safety professorship. In addition, I am also grateful to René Hagen for his good work and for putting fire prevention on the map.”

Fire prevention, an item on the political and administrative agenda “Fire safety is not simply a matter of applying legal. Fire safety is primarily concerned with the impact of fires on the environment, on the behaviour of people to help prevent fires, on the flammability of consumer products and so on”, Hagen reflected. “At the start of the professorship in 2006 it was my goal to substantially improve fire safety in the domestic environment and to get the topic of fire prevention on the political and administrative agenda and to keep it there. More recently we are facing new fire safety, such as an ageing population, the energy transition, climate change and circular and sustainable building. These new risks require a new approach to keep society fire safe.”

Lieuwe de Witte
Lieuwe de Witte is a structural engineer by training. He has been with the IFV since 2015 in the role of senior researcher and lecturer, during which he has been involved in the development of Fire Safety Engineering in the area of both research and education. He was also closely involved in the development of the Basic Principles of Firefighting and the practical research into smoke propagation in residential buildings. Before this, Mr De Witte worked for 12.5 years as a fire safety consultant at Nieman Raadgevende Ingenieurs B.V.

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