Position: Associate Professor

Field: Fire engineering and research

Organisation: Department of Civil and Natural Resources Engineering, University of Canterbury

Dr Charley Fleischmann’s research interests are in fire modelling, fire reconstruction, furniture flammability and computer modelling. When Charley finished high school, he never thought he would go to university, but as it turned out, he never left.

When Charley was a volunteer firefighter, someone suggested he try fire engineering as a career, and as he had no better ideas, he decided to give it a go.

He realised that university was not as bad as he thought it would be. By his third year at university, he was hooked on the idea of studying fire and doing fire research.

During his PhD studies, he realised how much he enjoyed research and teaching. He decided to look for an academic position when he finished his degree. Through a contact, he accepted a position at the University of Canterbury. He’s been there since 1994.

Charley enjoys teaching and interacting with the students in the classroom. Although this accounts for less than 10% of his work, Charley often finds this the highlight of the day. 20% of his time is spent teaching students in less formal settings and preparing course material.

Approximately 30% of his time is spent on administration, which he says is not very interesting to most people.

About 30% of his time is dedicated to research, but he spends more time supervising research and less time doing research. He leads research in the area of numerical modelling of fire and the impact of fire on buildings. His ME and PhD students normally work on computer modelling of fires or in the laboratory burning things to better understand fire. Some interesting current research involves modelling the interaction of people in fire situations. This will be used to improve building design.

Charley is required to stay at the forefront of fire engineering and research, which means he does a lot of travelling. He has been invited to Poland, Belgium and Spain to give presentations at different conferences. He also visited England, Finland, France, Italy, Scotland and the United States to discuss fire engineering and research collaboration with colleagues at universities and research laboratories. Charley says life-long learning is one of the major benefits of being at a top university.

The last 10% of Charley’s time is for service to the community and his profession, which includes advising lawyers, local councils and central government departments on fire engineering matters. Currently, he is working with the Department of Building and Housing on improving fire engineering design in buildings.

As Charley says,

I get paid to experiment with fire and teach people about fire, what could be more fun than that? I get paid to play with matches.

Charley’s other interests include bike riding, running, travelling, renovating his bach, snow skiing, scuba diving and boogie boarding.

This article is based on information current in 2009.

    Published 18 November 2009