Fire protection engineering is a unique profession that focuses on using science and technology to protect people and buildings from fires. Fire protection engineers analyze how buildings are used, how fires start and grow, and how fires affect people and property. They understand how building systems are designed to control fires, alert people to danger, and provide means for escape.
Fire safety science and engineering is a rapidly growing technology used in many new designs and systems. Principles of fire dynamics and fire modeling are being incorporated into codes and standards, fire-fighting practices, and post-fire analysis. Fire Protection Engineers are equipped to apply these concepts in a broad spectrum of situations.
Because fire protection engineers have these unique skills and abilities, many state fire marshals are successfully employing them on their staff. As part of a state fire marshal's team a fire protection engineer can:
- Review construction and fire protection system design documents for compliance with the required fire safety standards.
- Judge the adequacy of a performance-based fire protection design or a design that is prepared as an equivalency to prescriptive code requirements.
- Assist in the development of state fire and building code requirements.
- Work with other design professionals such as architects, engineers and code officials to determine the best solution to a fire safety problem.
- Perform fire investigations to discover how fires start and spread, why protective measures failed, and how those measures could have been designed more effectively.
- Advise fire departments in adapting new technology in such areas as fire station location modeling, positive pressure ventilation, and personnel risk assessment.
- Be a resource for information on innovative fire safety such as voice alarm and water mist, and on other technical fire safety issues like microbial induced corrosion (MIC) in sprinkler piping.
Like other engineering disciplines, fire protection engineers have college degrees from accredited engineering programs. Many fire protection engineers are licensed engineers. Forty-eight states and the District of Columbia recognize fire protection as an engineering discipline.
For more information about fire protection engineering, contact Chris Jelenewicz, P.E., Engineering Program Manager at the Society of Fire Protection Engineers (SFPE) at 301-718-2910 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Or go to the SFPE website by clicking here.