History of Fire Research at Tokyo University of Science

At the heart of the present 21st Century COE Program is the Department of Fire Science and Technology at the Research Institute for Science and Technology, a unique research organization specializing in fire science established in 1981 as part of our university. There is no other university with a specialist fire science research institute of this caliber in Japan. The Department has achieved many outstanding results, in tandem with the fire experts in the Faculties of Science, Engineering and Science and Technology, as we will see below, For the Faculty of Engineering, late Professor Minoru Hamada, who made a great contribution to the founding of the Architecture Department started in 1962, was involved in wide-ranging fire science research. He focused particularly on the analysis of urban great fires, with his lifelong theme of minimizing the impact of such fires as witnessed in the Great Kanto Earthquake. Late Honorary Professor Tetsuo Moriwaki and Honorary Professor Soichiro Okishio joined the department later, while late Professor Takashi Handa of Chemistry Department at Faculty of Science, started his research on fire science and made a major contribution to development of the discipline. These scholars also put great efforts in teaching, fostering outstanding researchers in the field, including Professor Masahiro Morita and Osami Sugawa, sub-leaders of the COE. For the Faculty of Science and Technology, late Professor Kikuji Togawa and late Professor Kunio Kawagoe, the world’s leading figures in fire science research, were invited to its Architecture Department, established in 1967. Thus, Tokyo University of Science became a research and education institute unrivalled in the field of fire science, achieving research excellence and producing many researchers, Professor Takao Wakamatsu, our COE leader, can be said to be the rightful successor to Professor Kawagoe. Both have worked hard as the Chairman of Japan Association for Fire Science and Engineering (JAFSE) and helped establish the International Association for Fire Safety Science (IAFSS), neither of which could have become what they are now without their efforts. Professor Wakamatsu has paid particular attention to developing talents for the future of fire science. Many promising young researchers, including our COE members Yoshifumi Ohmiya, Ken Matsuyama and Masayuki Mizuno, were trained in his research group in the Department of Architecture at Science and Technology Faculty, and are now key players in fire science. Professor Wakamatsu has been trusted with the position of Director of Center for Fire Science and Technology since April of 2004, when the Center was founded in response to the adoption as one of the 21st Century COE Programs of our “Center of Advanced Fire Safety Science and Technology for Building” by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) in 2003. Tokyo University of Science is now embracing a new era in which to develop further as a major hub of fire science research and training, with an influx of strong new members, including Professors Shin’ichi Sugahara and Makoto Tsujimoto, as well as the imminent completion of a large experimental research and test laboratory of the Center for Fire Science and Technology in March 2005.

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History

Year Major events (including commissioned fire appraisal cases) Department Head
1980

Fire at Prince Hotel Kawaji, Tochigi Prefecture. 45 victims. (Nov 1980)

Department of Fire Science and Technology, Research Institute for Science and Technology was founded (Jan 1981)

Publication “International Journal for Fire Science and Technology” started (Nov 1981)

Fire at Hotel New Japan, Tokyo. 32 victims. (Feb 1982)

Fire at Zao Kanko Hotel, Yamagata Prefecture. 11 victims. (Feb 1983)

Fire at Daitokan Hotel, Atsukawa Spa. 24 victims. (Feb 1986)

Fire at Shojuen Old People’s Home, Tokyo. 17 victims. (Jun 1987)

Takashi HANDA (1981-1985) Kunio KAWAGOE (1985-1989)
1990

Fire at Nagasakiya Department Store, Amagasaki City. 15 victims. (Mar 1990)

“KAWAGOE Award” started by IAFSS (Jun 1994)

The University awarded “FORUM Award” by IAFSS for its contribution to the advancement of fire safety technologies (Jun 1994)

Prof. Kunio Kawagoe received First Prize of Architectural Institute of Japan Award (Sep 1994) for his contribution to the advancement and systematization of Architectural Fire Mitigation Engineering.

The University awarded “SJOLIN Award” by IAFSS for producing many researchers of fire science (Jul 1999)

Yuko SHIGEKURA (1989-1993) Tadahiro ISHII (1993-1997)
2000

Myojo 56 Building Fire, Shinjuku, Tokyo. 44 victims (Sep 2000)

Chosen as a 21st Century COE by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) (Jul 2003), with the program of “Center of Advanced Fire Safety Science and Technology for Building”

Center for Fire Science and Technology, Research Institute for Science and Technology was founded (Apr 2004)

Completion of Fire Research and Test Laboratory, Center for Fire Science and Technology (Mar 2005)

Chosen as a Global COE by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) (Jun 2008)

Authorized a Joint Usage/Research Center by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) (Jul 2009)

Takao WAKAMATSU (1997-2003) Masahiro MORITA (2003-to 2004) Takao WAKAMATSU (2004-2008)
2010

Established Graduate School of Global Fire Science and Technology with Master’s Degree Programs (Apr 2010)

Commenced Doctorate Degree Programs in Graduate School of Global Fire Science and Technology (Apr 2012)

Chosen as MEXT-Supported Program for the Strategic Research Foundation at Private Universities by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) (June 2013), with the program of ”Formation of Information Center for Common Expertise on Fire Safety – the new shape of fire safety network in information society –“

Shinichi SUGAHARA (2008-2013) Makoto TSUJIMOTO (2013- to present)

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