The Philip J DiNenno Prize awarded for the development of oxygen consumption calorimetry

June 13, 2016 – The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) announced that oxygen consumption calorimetry is the technical achievement to receive this year’s Philip J. DiNenno Prize. The award and $50,000 in prize money were presented today at NFPA’s Conference & Expo to Dr. William Parker of the National Bureau of Standards (now the National Institute of Standards and Technology) for developing the device, now a foundation of modern quantitative fire protection engineering. 

The prestigious DiNenno Prize recognizes important innovations that have had a significant impact on public safety, including building, fire and electrical safety. The prize is named for the late Philip J. DiNenno, the highly regarded former CEO of Hughes Associates, in recognition of his extraordinary contributions to fire safety.

Oxygen consumption calorimetry determines the heat release rate of a fire by measuring the rate at which oxygen is consumed. It is often used to evaluate the fire safety of materials and assemblies, making it a crucial element of modern fire testing methods.

In 1974, while working as a research associate at Underwriters Laboratory, Parker observed that the burning rate of a Steiner tunnel sample was proportional to the oxygen depletion percentage in the exhaust. He determined the heat release rate by recognizing the constancy of heat release per unit of oxygen consumed and published his findings in 1977. Parker worked with Dr. Clayton Huggett, a now deceased colleague, who in 1979 first submitted the journal paper that provided the scientific basis for the constancy of heat release per unit of oxygen consumed as a basis for calorimetry. Their efforts provided a means for measuring the heat release rate of a fire, allowing fire research to move forward with confidence.

DiNenno passed away in 2013 and NFPA established the DiNenno Prize in 2014. A prize committee considers nominations submitted from around the world. More information can be found at

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Founded in 1896, NFPA is a global, nonprofit organization devoted to eliminating death, injury, property and economic loss due to fire, electrical and related hazards. The association delivers information and knowledge through more than 300 consensus codes and standards, research, training, education, outreach and advocacy; and by partnering with others who share an interest in furthering the NFPA mission. For more information visit All NFPA codes and standards can be viewed online for free at

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