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HVACR Ultraviolet-Treatment Pioneer Forrest Fencl Dies

Aug. 7, 2015
Fencl founded two companies that provide surface and airborne microbial control and organic-materials decontamination: Steril-Aire and UV Resources.

Forrest B. Fencl, pioneer of the modern application of ultraviolet germicidal irradiation (UV-C) in HVACR equipment, died at his home in Huntington Beach, Calif., Aug. 1 after a battle with cancer. He was 72 years old.

Following a distinguished 25-year career at Farr Co. (now the Camfil Group), Fencl founded two companies that provide surface and airborne microbial control and organic-materials decontamination: Steril-Aire, which he served as president and chief executive officer (CEO) from 1995 to 2002, and UV Resources, which he served as CEO from 2005 to 2015.

"Forrest was a tremendous leader, great friend, and mentor to me and so many others," Dan Jones, president and co-founder of UV Resources, said. "He was a man of exceptional character and integrity who would do what was right and courageous no matter the pressures to do otherwise."

According to Jones, Fencl’s work around coil irradiation led to optimized UV-C effectiveness in the hostile cold and fast-moving air of HVACR systems.

Fencl was a lifelong inventor who wrote or co-wrote 17 patents related to ultraviolet air and surface treatment. He also was a prolific writer and enthusiastic educator, authoring more than a hundred articles and papers on UV-C ranging from bio-remediation to indoor-air quality to food and pharmaceutical issues to biowarfare-agent protection.

He served ASHRAE throughout his career, including 10 years as a Distinguished Lecturer and, later, as a voting member of Technical Committee 2.9, Ultraviolet Air and Surface Treatment. Also, he co-authored the association’s 2008, 2011, 2012, and 2015 Handbook chapters on the application of UV-C technology in HVACR systems. Through these efforts, Jones said, the industry began to modify its standard of care for HVACR equipment relative to the application of UV-C. Among other contributions in the air-filtration community, he fathered the Two-Step Design Guide, an engineering tool for utilizing the best of ASHRAE Standard 62-1989.

In 2010, Fencl was named a Lifetime Fellow by ASHRAE, a distinction recognizing outstanding contributions to industry research, education, or engineering.

Before beginning his corporate career, Fencl served as an electronics technician in the U.S. Navy aboard the USS Wilkinson destroyer.

In addition to a distinguished professional career, Fencl freely shared his expertise with air-quality, biological-safety, and infection-control colleagues, as well as with members of the International Ultraviolet Association and the Illuminating Engineering Society. He also had close working relationships outside of the HVACR industry, including with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health and NASA.

“Forrest consulted with NASA scientists and engineers on the development of the first solid-state UV-C decontamination system to be operated on a manned space vehicle,” Jim Good, a senior system engineer with aerospace and engineering contractor Teledyne Brown Engineering, said. “This system has been operating on board the International Space Station since June of 2014, providing significant enhancements to science operations and protecting the crew from biohazards in biological samples. His most recent collaboration was helping develop an earth-based system to revolutionize microbial inactivation in large medical and office facilities.”

In addition to his wife of 24 years, Laurie, survivors include three children: Kristena, Karolyn, and Forrest “Cole”; three grandchildren: Victoria, Katherine, and Isabella; and an expected great-grandchild.

The family has requested that, in lieu of flowers, donations be made to Good News Ministry, c/o Grace Lutheran Church, 6931 Edinger Ave., Huntington Beach, CA 92647.