Margaret Law – Pioneer in Fire Safety Engineering (1928-2017)

Usually, in this blog, I am writing about women of the more distant past, but today I want to introduce you to Margaret Law who died last month. I am embarrassed to say that I hadn’t previously heard of her until the obituary notes popped up on the internet.

Born in about 1928, Margaret gained a BSc and went on to gain her chartered engineer status, having helped to campaign for fire safety engineering to be able to be granted chartered status. A fellow of the Institute of Fire Engineers and the Society of Fire Protection Engineers she was also honoured with an MBE for her services to the industry in 1992.

The image above right is from the front cover of the 1952 Fire Research Station Annual Report. This was from her first year as a fire researcher and the picture shows Prof Law carrying out experiments on the ignition of wood. Unfortunately I know nothing of her early life or education but presumably she went to the FRS shortly after getting her degree.

margaret law fire engineer arup

From about 1971 onwards there was a steady flow of publications, which are still considered seminal and cited in research today. In 2002, her employers Arups published some of them in a compendium. With Arups she worked on the fire safety of many well-known buildings including the new stand built at the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC or Lords) in 1987 and the Paris Pompidou Centre in 1977. She was also a Professor at the University of Greenwich.

Her death has been marked by many personal marks of respect across the internet and she was clearly a very influential engineer in this field, particularly in the USA and Canada, who now passes in to ‘recent history’.

Personal and family life

She married James Peter Morris in London in 1974 and he predeceased her.



1971 A relationship between fire grading and building design and contents. M Law – Fire Safety Science, 1971

1978 Fire Safety of External Building Elements. LAW Margaret – Engineering Journal, American Institute of Steel. 1978

1985 Development of calculation methods for the design of structural fire protection. M Law – Structural Survey, 1985

1986 Translation of Research into Practice: Building Design. M Law – Fire Safety Science, 1986

1988 Fire Safety Design For Tall Buildings: Recent Developments. M Law – Second Century of the Skyscraper, 1988 – Springer

1990 What is a fire engineer? Journal of Applied Fire Science, 1 (1) 3-6 1990-1. Baywood Publishing Company Inc, USA. Margaret Law.

1991 Fire grading and fire behaviour. M Law – Fire safety journal, 1991 – Elsevier

1991 Fire Safety Design Practices in the United Kingdom-New Building Regulations. M Law – Fire safety design in the 21st century, 1991 –

1993 Draft British Standard Code of Practice for the Application of Fire Safety Engineering Principles to Fire Safety in Buildings. G Deakin, M Hannah, T Jones, M Law… – 1993 – Warrington Fire Research …

1994 ‘Magic Numbers and Golden Rules’ , Proceedings of the 4th International Symposium on Fire Safety Science, Ottawa, Canada, 13-17 June 1994, pp78-84, 1994. International Association For Fire Safety Science (IAFSS), UK. Margaret Law, Paula Beever.

1994 Magic numbers and golden rules. M Law, P Beever – Fire Safety Science, 1994 –

1994 Challenges in design. M Law – Fire safety journal, 1994 – Elsevier

1995 The Origins of the 5MW Design Fire. M Law – Fire Safety Engineering, 1995 – PARAMOUNT PUBLISHING LTD.

1995 Magic numbers and golden rules. M Law, P Beever – Fire Technology, 1995 – Springer

1995 Measurements of balcony smoke flow. M Law – Fire Safety Journal, 1995 – Elsevier

1997 A review of formulae for T-equivalent. M Law – Fire Safety Science, 1997 –

1998 On the” Cabins” Fire Safety Design Concept in the New Hong Kong Airport Terminal Building. M Law – Journal of fire sciences, 1998 –

2002 Some Selected Papers by Margaret Law: Engineering Fire Safety. M Law – 2002 – Arup

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