Fire Code Expert Richard C. Schulte Dies at 60

Richard C. Schulte (Photo courtesy of Nadine M. Post, Engineering News-Record)

Fire code consultant Richard C. Schulte, a 2006 AISC Special Achievement Award winner honored for bringing rationality to the discussion of the 9/11 destruction of the World Trade Center, died on May 11 after a battle with cancer. He was 60 years old.

“I came to know Rich Schulte at a time when the engineering profession and building construction community were grappling with the events, experiences and lessons of our collective building performance experience on 9/11,” said Charles J. Carter, S.E., P.E., Ph.D., AISC vice president and chief structural engineer. “Rich was level-headed and a visionary in his relentless writing about the subject and relevant facts from the history of building safety. He evaluated facts, dispelled fears, established context and always gave an unbiased opinion. I very much respected his willingness to oppose special interests and question unsupported claims and conclusions, all with utmost professionalism.”

“He spoke out because it was the right thing to do,” added fire protection engineer Carl F. Baldassarra, a principal at Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates, Inc. “Rich was fascinated by the history of the fire protection engineering profession. He spent considerable time in the libraries of NFPA and Underwriters Laboratories reading about the development of the technology and the codes and standards governing construction of fire safe buildings, many of which remain in use today.”

In 2003 AISC distributed a 38-page booklet Fire Protection – Articles from The Plumbing Engineer [F028-03] comprised of various articles written by Schulte for Plumbing Engineer. The 13 detailed articles provide in-depth analysis on fire protection issues. In 2004 ENR also selected Schulte as one of the Top 25 Newsmakers of the year.

Schulte is survived by his son, William.