School of Civil Engineering

Keeping our homes safe from fire has been an age-old battle for humanity, ever since humans started building shelters with fire pits inside over 40,000 years ago.

But in the mid-2000s, the rules of this battle changed when a terrifying new type of building fire engulfed multiple skyscrapers around the world.

These fires were unique in the way they spread rapidly across the outside of the buildings. They badly damaged buildings in France, the US and the United Arab Emirates, and were seen in Australia for the first time in 2014 when the Lacrosse building in Melbourne went up in flames, causing an estimated $24 million in damages.

Then, in 2017, the Grenfell Tower disaster in the UK brought the problem to the world’s attention, with 24 storeys burned, 72 people killed, and 70 others injured.