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What is a Fire Protection Engineer? What do they do?

Fire Protection Engineering


One of the greatest threats to lives and property is the threat of fire. Indeed, fires can lead to a high level of destruction as well as lives. Businesses have been crippled due to fires, and human beings have been left nursing injuries after a fire.

Having stated that, it is important that the American residential buildings seek the intervention of a fire protection engineer. Otherwise known as a fire prevention engineer, the fire protection engineer is a professional who is well versed on how fire occurs, the damage it causes, how to prevent fire, and how to control it. The main aim of a fire protection engineer is to identify risks concerning fire, and prevent damage that could be caused by fire.

The Roles and Responsibilities of Fire Protection Engineer

The most pronounced role of a fire protection engineer is risk assessment. In this case, the engineer will identify the emergency routes as well as the exits that every business or building must have, and assess if such opportunities will be of help in case of fire. With the use of modern technology, managers can invest in a fire warning system. A fire protection engineer will be in a position to inform the owners of a building on the possibility of a building catching fire, and what to do should such a thing happen.

The fire protection engineer can help the business prepare on how to help the most vulnerable people in case of fire. Such groups of people include the elderly people, the people with disability, and the young people. Almost all authorities will have a comprehensive risk of all the risk assessment guidelines concerning fire. However, much as the local authorities can guide you, they cannot carry out the risk assessment for you.

Fire protection engineers do understand the building code of practice. This is a prescriptive approach which identifies the best practices in the industry. In some cases, a fire protection engineer will be available at the stage of construction. In other cases, the fire protection comes at a later stage. It is advisable that the fire protection engineer is consulted at an early stage of the construction. By then, it will be easier to employ the right fire prevention measures, and perhaps cheaper.

Dangerous substances are a key contributor to cases of fire. The fire protection engineer assesses how dangerous some substances are, and advises on the best way of storage. The professional could advise the business to initiate total removal of the dangerous materials. Such an under-taking may have to be done by a removal list company which is well versed in the most efficient ways of managing dangerous substances.

Buildings which are old could be vulnerable to fire. This is because of the materials that were used in the construction. Modern buildings benefit from construction decisions which are based on research and the modern legal landscape is more sensitive to the safety recommendations.

Fire protection engineering also envisions a situation where the fire occurs and lays down the appropriate mitigation measures. What is important is to contain the spread of fire and give the rescue time to reach the building and control the fire. In turn, this is going to lead to the prevention of monetary losses.

Thus, the fire protection engineer understands the variables that cause fire to escalate. These include ventilation and fuel load. When laying down the fire protection measures, they have such factors in mind. Like in most professionals anyway, the fire protection engineer cannot work in isolation. He or she needs to work in collaboration with teams in order to realize optimal outcomes.

Fire protection engineers play a critical role in ensuring the quality assurance position of a company. When authorities are assessing the health of a company, they are particular in ensuring that a business meets the safety requirements. A fire protection engineer helps in this process. For example, he could assess if the fire equipment is working in order.

The science of fire protection should ensure that the issues of sustainability are addressed. In particular, any fire protection infrastructure should bear in mind the cost of planting the structure, the cost of running it, and the cost of training. Going for a cheaper option does not necessary mean that one goes for less quality. Rather, the market provides cheaper alternatives which will still serve the purpose.

A fire protection engineer can help a building install a fire detection system. A fire detection system can work either through heat or smoke sensors. The main rationale behind the installation of a fire protection system is to warn the people living or working in a building about an upcoming fire. In addition to that, the emergency service providers get to receive information early enough.

Fire protection engineers can use active or passive fire protection. Active fire protection strategies require motion as well as responses if they are to work. In connection to this, manual fire suppression can be done through fire blanket, fire extinguisher, and standpipe. Automatic fire suppression can be done through sprinkler systems, and gaseous clean agents. Foam suppression can be done through low expansion, medium expansion, and high expansion.

Passive fire protection methods aim at preventing fire in the first place, or controlling the spread of fire in the first place. The modern market has products and building materials which are fore-resistant. In addition to that, parts of the building can be segregated in order to prevent the destruction of an entire building. In other words, it is about maintaining the safety integrity of a building.

smoke control rational analysis

How to be a Fire Engineer

Institutions of higher education do offer fire science and engineering. One can choose to take a specialization in structural, physical, or mechanical engineering. As a fire protection engineer, you may opt for a focus in stairwells, evacuation portals, sprinkler systems, and alarm systems. As a fire professional, you are going to work hand in hand with interior designers, city planners, and architects.

A fire protection engineering curriculum focuses on the history of fire-fighting, principles of fire prevention, suppression, and fire engineering. You are also going to take courses in research methods, economics, smoke management, and risk analysis. Students can also learn how to report the chase findings, writing up a report, and participation in a court process. For example, University of Maryland has a dedicated Department of Fire Engineering that offers both undergraduate and graduate courses in fire engineering.

In some cases, you may take a course in fire engineering from outside the country, and still practice in the US. However, before you do so, make sure that you have the facts well, and that you will be able to practice in the US. For example, under the Washington Accord, one can take a course in fire engineering at the University of Canterbury and come back to the US to practice.

Individuals interested with a career in firefighting should consider signing up as a volunteer fire fighter early enough. This is not just good for the CV, but it gives such individuals a chance for exposure and experience. Again, by signing up as a volunteer, you are going to learn about the sources of fire, and how they spread. For example, you will learn that cooking contributes to very many cases of fires in buildings, whether residential or non-residential. Much as theory is important, some professions require practical skills.

If you settle down for a career in fire protection, do not sit in a comfort zone. Rather, think about taking the refresher courses as well as attend workshops. This is because the field of fire engineering is constantly evolving. In addition to that, new construction developments could initiate a new set of challenges related to fire. Again, meeting other professionals in the field will expose you to unlimited networking opportunities that you can use in order to advance your career. Learning is a continuous process, and you need to take advantage of the learning opportunities that are available for the fire protection career.

Fire protection engineers can be employed by the government to work in places with a lot of plants and wildlife. For example, California faces existential threats in wild fires. When you assume such a position, you have to understand what causes the fire (in most cases), and teach the population on fire prevention. In California, 90 % of the fire sparks are started by people. The Californian eco-system is known to be highly flammable.

Insurance companies regularly need to investigate causes of fire. This is more so due to the high cases of fraud that insurance companies face every way. For example, fire protection engineers could be hired to investigate if a certain fire was deliberate. In such cases, as a fire professional, you will save the insurance company a lot of money.

Like any other professional, social skills come in handy in helping a fire protection engineer achieve his career objectives. For example, communication skills play a critical in working with an integrated team of professionals. Similarly, organizational skills come in handy in carrying out a successful project.

If you are a passionate fire protection engineer, consider contributing to national and local policy. For example, there is a strong correlation between climate change and the probability of fires. In addition to that, low-income and marginalized populations can be vulnerable to adverse effects of fires. The modern professional is thinking about earning an income, and at the same time, making an impact in the world. In fact, some professionals are worried about the legacy they will leave behind. By managing fires in the US, through little or big ways, you are taking part in a noble cause.

The Society of Fire Protection Engineers states that the average salary of a fire protection engineer is $ 85 k. The organization adds that a quarter of the engineers earn over $ 100 k. Some companies have a clear way of enhancing the promotion of employees. It is assumed that with more years of experience, the employee is going to be compensated accordingly.

computer fire and egress modeling

Benefits of Fire Protection

If a business employs the right protection fire prevention strategies, it can play a critical role in ensuring that employees have peace of mind when they are at work. When employees work in a place without safety measures, they get worried about what could happen to them. Moreover, they get worried about what could happen to their families should they become incapacitated or in the case of death.

Buildings which employ the right safety procedures, fire protection for instance, are in good books with the government and the insurance companies. The government lays a strong emphasis on the safety of the public. Therefore, some safety measures are in fact a matter of law and not necessarily a choice.

By preventing a fire, you are preventing the loss of documents and records. Fires can cause a huge damage on the filing system. Even in the case of electronic health records, with its back-up system, the computer could be burnt down leading to heavy losses. What is important is to hire a fire protection engineer in order to ensure that possible damage is prevented.

A fire incident could bring down a business. Some of the businesses have faced fire incidences that interrupted their ability to serve the clients. If a business faces a fire incidence due to negligence, the clients can be disappointed, and they may not want to do business with the company in question.


A fire protection engineering company prides itself in the ability to save life and property. You will be contributing to better lives and a better business environment. The market will be in high demand for fire protection engineers as it seeks to enhance safety measures.

The trend in the American landscape is that more Americans are going to make investments, both big and small. And in that case, employers are always going to be in need of a fire protection engineer.