- Should I Become a Fire Protection Engineer?
- Job Description of a Fire Protection Engineer
- Fire Protection Engineer Degree
- Steps to Become a Fire Protection Engineer
- How Long Does It Take to Become a Fire Protection Engineer?
- What Are the Requirements of Becoming a Fire Protection Engineer
- How Much Can I Make as a Fire Protection Engineer?
- Training Requirements to Become a Fire Protection Engineer
Fire Protection Engineers are supposed to design various solutions to minimize the risks associated with fires in all sorts of buildings. They are also required to implement them efficiently. Fire protection engineers can get employed in various industries like, insurance, manufacturing, consulting and even with the US Government.
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Should I Become a Fire Protection Engineer?
Fire Protection Engineers may often need to visit sites while working especially if they are employed in an industrial or a commercial location. Their job requires them to design and improve fire safety systems of buildings. Not only that, they also ensure whether the safety equipment is fully functional or not and if the safety procedures are being followed in accordance with the state laws.
|Degree Level||Bachelor’s Degree|
|Degree Fields||Mechanical Engineering, Fire Science and Protection, Engineering Technology, Engineering|
|Licensure||Some states require Professional Engineering (PE) licensure|
|Experience||At least 4 years of experience in Fire Protection or related field|
|Key Skills||Fire Safety, Building Codes, Critical Thinking & Problem Solving, Understanding of Electrical Systems, Understanding of Construction Documents, Communication, Risk Analysis, Attention to Detail|
|Job Outlook (2021-31)||4% (Health and Safety Engineers)|
|Mean Annual Salary (2021)||$ 99,700 (Health and Safety Engineers)|
Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics 2021
Job Description of a Fire Protection Engineer
A Fire Protection Engineer plays a critical role in ensuring the safety of people, property, and the environment by applying scientific and engineering principles to protect against the destructive effects of fire and smoke. The job involves multiple responsibilities, and the specifics can vary depending on the employer, location, and specific projects. Below is a general job description for a Fire Protection Engineer:
- Job Title: Fire Protection Engineer
- Department: Safety & Engineering
- Reports To: Director of Engineering/Safety or as specified
The Fire Protection Engineer is responsible for planning, designing, and implementing measures to minimize fire risks, as well as developing policies, conducting fire risk assessments, and analyzing fire hazards and how they may affect an organization, building, or area.
- Risk Assessment & Analysis: Evaluate buildings, processes, materials, and systems for fire safety.
- Design & Review: Assist in the design of fire detection and suppression systems that comply with local, state, and federal codes.
- Code Compliance: Ensure all fire safety equipment and systems are up to code and meet relevant standards and regulations.
- Testing & Maintenance: Coordinate the testing and maintenance of fire safety equipment and systems.
- Documentation: Create and maintain detailed documentation related to fire safety measures, policies, and systems.
- Training & Communication: Conduct fire safety training for staff and contractors and serve as the point of contact for fire safety-related issues.
- Research & Development: Stay up-to-date on new technologies and methods in fire protection and recommend possible improvements.
- Site Inspections: Conduct routine and ad hoc site inspections to ensure all fire safety measures are in place and effective.
- Emergency Response Planning: Develop and maintain emergency response plans.
- Consultation: Work with architects, engineers, and other stakeholders in the planning and development phases of new and existing projects.
- Bachelor’s degree in Fire Protection Engineering or related field.
- Professional Engineering (PE) License in Fire Protection is preferable.
- Required years of relevant experience.
- Strong understanding of NFPA codes, state and local fire codes, and other relevant regulations.
- Proficient in using fire modeling software tools.
- Excellent communication and presentation skills.
- Ability to walk, stand, and occasionally climb during site inspections.
- Good vision and hearing abilities to evaluate the effectiveness of fire safety systems.
This is a general outline and the specific responsibilities, qualifications, and requirements may vary depending on the organization and location.
Fire Protection Engineer Degree
To become a Fire Protection Engineer in the US, the minimum requirement is a Bachelor’s Degree in Fire Science or a related field. Fire Protection Engineers are required to study in detail about mechanical engineering, fire science and protection, and engineering technology. Once you have obtained Bachelor’s Degree in Fire Science, students can also opt for Master’s in Fire Protection Engineering degree. An advanced program, it is grounded in the fundamentals of science, engineering, and mathematics. During the course students learn about
- Basic Processes of Fire Behavior.
- Combustion of Materials and Furnishings.
- Fire Suppression.
- Risk Management.
- Industrial Fire Protection.
- Explosion Protection.
Bachelor’s in Fire Science Degree Coursework
- Fire Protection Systems
- Fire Behavior and Combustion
- Fire Protection Structures and System Design
- Applied Learning in Fire and Safety Engineering
- Fire Hazard and Risk Analysis
- Fire and Life Safety Codes
Steps to Becoming a Fire Protection Engineer
If you have the aptitude for saving lives, then here is a step-by-step guide to help you get started.
To build a career in this profession, you need to complete at least a 4-year bachelor’s degree in Fire Science or Engineering. The degrees must be accredited by the relevant authorities. For instance, the engineering degree must be accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET). There are several universities in the US that offer accredited degrees in these subjects. For example, the Purdue University Global offers an online bachelor’s degree in Fire Science with 180 credit hours, accredited by the International Fire Service Accreditation Congress (IFSAC). Whereas, the University of Georgia offers several types of accredited bachelor’s degrees in Engineering. For details on your desired program, you may visit the official website of relevant university.
Simply graduating with a bachelor’s degree is not enough to begin working as a Fire Protection Engineer. You must also take and pass the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) Exam, otherwise called as the Engineer-In-Training (EIT) exam. It is conducted by the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES) and you may take this exam before or immediately after graduating from you bachelor’s degree.
After graduating and clearing the FE/NIT exam, you can begin working in the field as either an Engineer with a Fire Department or as a Firefighter under proper supervision. Gaining at least 4 years of work experience is crucial to becoming a licensed fire protection engineer. Working in the field would teach you about local codes and National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) standards.
Although becoming licensed is not mandatory, it allows your job prospects to improve significantly. Not only that, having a license means you no longer need any supervision and can work independently. In addition to that, if you want to work with the US Government Agencies, you will be required to get a valid license. In case of Engineers, you can take and pass the Professional Engineering (PE) licensure exam.
How Long Does It Take to Become a Fire Protection Engineer?
To work as a fire protection engineer, it may take you anywhere between 8 to 10 years from completing the relevant education to becoming licensed with field experience. It is a time consuming process and demands patience and determination.
What Are the Requirements of Becoming a Fire Protection Engineer?
Apart from completing the required education, training and licensure requirements, fire protection engineers are required to possess excellent analytical and problem solving skills. Their job demands that they figure out problems with safety procedures with a quick survey and find solutions to fix them. In addition to that, they need to be familiar with software such as AutoCAD, MicroStation and MS Office etc. because their job entails designing fire safety systems and creating reports of building surveys.
To become a Fire Protection Engineer in the US, all candidates must:
- Possess a bachelor’s degree in Engineering (with courses in Fire Science) or a relevant subject i.e., Fire Science
- Have at least 4 years of field experience in fire protection
- Have excellent communication skills
- Get on-the-job training
- Be physically fit
- Have strong analytical and problem-solving skills
- Candidates may be required to obtain/possess a valid state issued license.
How Much Can I Make as a Fire Protection Engineer?
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Health and Safety Engineers earned an annual mean salary of $ 99,700 in 2021, which approximately amounts to $ 47.93 mean wage per hour. Furthermore, Pipeline Transportation of Crude Oil was reported as the highest paying industry for this occupation by the BLS in 2021 with an annual mean salary of $ 147,880.
Below are the top paying states for Health and Safety Engineers in the US:
|State||Annual Mean Wage|
|New Hampshire||$ 117,940|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics 2021
Below are the states with the highest employment level in Health and Safety Engineers:
Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics 2021
Training Requirements to Become a Fire Protection Engineer
The journey to becoming a Fire Protection Engineer usually involves a combination of educational qualifications, professional certification, and practical experience. Here’s a general guide on the training requirements to become a Fire Protection Engineer:
- High School Diploma: A strong foundation in mathematics and science is important.
- Bachelor’s Degree: A bachelor’s degree in Fire Protection Engineering or a related field like Mechanical Engineering, Civil Engineering, or Electrical Engineering is generally required. Coursework often includes subjects like fire dynamics, fire protection systems, codes and standards, risk analysis, and emergency management.
- Advanced Degrees (Optional): Some Fire Protection Engineers opt to earn master’s or doctoral degrees in Fire Protection Engineering or a related field to specialize in certain areas like fire modeling, fire safety design, or fire risk assessment.
- Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) Exam: Most engineers start by taking the FE exam in their senior year of college or shortly after graduating to become an Engineer-in-Training (EIT).
- Professional Engineering (PE) License: After gaining a few years (usually four) of work experience, you can take the PE exam in Fire Protection to become a licensed Professional Engineer. This allows you to approve engineering plans and offer services directly to the public.
- Certified Fire Protection Specialist (CFPS): This certification, offered by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), is another credential that demonstrates expertise in fire protection.
- Other Certifications: Additional certifications in safety management, hazard analysis, and other relevant areas may be beneficial.
- Internships: Gaining practical experience through internships during college can provide a valuable introduction to the field.
- Entry-Level Position: An entry-level position often involves tasks like assisting in fire hazard analysis, fire protection system design, and code compliance under the supervision of a licensed engineer.
- Progressive Experience: As you gain more experience, you’ll be given more responsibilities, such as leading projects, conducting advanced simulations, and managing teams.
- Specialized Training: On-the-job training is crucial. This could include specialized training in the use of fire modeling software, understanding of updated codes and standards, and project management skills.
- Seminars and Workshops: Regularly attending professional seminars and workshops helps you stay current with industry trends and technologies.
- Publications: Subscribing to industry publications and journals keeps you informed of the latest research and best practices.
- Networking: Participate in professional organizations like the NFPA, Society of Fire Protection Engineers (SFPE), and other relevant bodies to network and share knowledge.
By fulfilling these educational, certification, and practical experience requirements, you can effectively prepare for a career as a Fire Protection Engineer.