In this conversation between David Purser and Lars Axelsson we talk about the acute risk for people and firefighters at fires. We try to cover the heat, toxic products and steam that is generated by the fire or by the actions of the firefighters.

David has some, what I believe, excellent insights in how we can teach risk assessment of smoke both with and without breathing protection. This critical skill to be able to tell if the smoke is acutely dangerous or not is in my opinion not a well taught topic.

I think this episode is a must watch for anyone interested in saving lives at fires as we try to find where the edge of our knowledge is right now. And personally, I feel I have gained valuable information in how think about making rescues at fires based on first principle.

David started doing fire research in the 70s and is truly an expert in fire toxicology. He has contributed to the global understanding of fire and is a true superhero in my eyes.

Youtube clips

Here you can watch some video clips with David:


Introducing FED

Domestic Fire Development

Active Fire Protection

Fire Science Show podcast

Scientific work

Here you can access some of the scientific papers published by David over the years.

Prof. David Purser CBE, BSc, PhD, Dip RCPath

Prof. David Purser’s work covers all aspects of fire hazard development, escape behaviour and their interactions.

He started working in this area during the 1970s, when the large increase in fire injuries and deaths at that time led him to study the effects of toxic smoke and heat on people and their behaviour during fires.

His research into escape behaviour, fire dynamics, combustion chemistry and fire effluent toxicity is applied to hazard assessment models, international standards and incident investigations.

He has studied hazard development and effects on occupants in fire incidents, serving as an expert witness for cases including the Dupont plaza hotel fire (Puerto Rico, 1986), the inquiry into Mont Blanc Tunnel fire (Mont Blanc, 1999), the Rosepark care home fire (Glasgow, 2006) and the Grenfell Tower fire (2017).

He has served on fire safety and fire engineering standards committees at BSI and internationally since 1980, participating in leading the revision of BS 7974:2019 Application of fire safety engineering principles to the design of buildings, and also participates in research and technical advice to Government in relation to revisions of the Building Regulations and environmental toxic hazards from air pollution.

Formerly a director at the UK Building Research Establishment, he continues consulting as Hartford Environmental Research and is Visiting Professor in fire chemistry and toxicity at the University of Central Lancashire.

In 2013 he was awarded the Institution of Fire Engineers Rasbash Medal for outstanding contribution to the advancement of knowledge in fire behaviour, and the GIDAI Fire Research Centre Medal of the University of Cantabria.

In 2015 he was appointed CBE for services to fire safety.

In 2023 he was awarded the International Association for Fire Safety Science (IAFSS) Howard W. Emmons Plenary Lectureship in recognition of distinguished lifelong contributions to and career achievements in Fire Safety Science

This is the truth, or maybe not.​

This conversation might not always be accurate. I am no guru and sometimes simple mistakes are made, especially if English isn’t a person’s first language. It’s just our chat – nothing more or less. Have fun!

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