Duties and responsibilities
A fire engineers design and provide advice about fire safety measures for both new buildings and building undergoing refurbishment. They play a hugely important role in protecting life, property and the wider environment. Their typical duties and responsibilities include:
- Identifying possible fire-related risks and working to reduce or eliminate them
- Making designs, calculations, sketches and/or diagrams to help prevent fire/the spreading of fire
- Incorporating fire safety procedures into designs (e.g., sprinkler systems, emergency exits and fire alarms)
- Making recommendations for the materials used in the construction or refurbishment of a building
- Keeping up to date with regulations and legislation
- Visiting project/construction sites to advise on the installation or implementation of the designs
- Writing reports on fire strategy
- Acting as an expert witness in court and judicial proceedings, if required.
To become a fire engineer, you will need to complete an engineering degree program approved by the Accreditation Board For engineering an d Technology (ABET). After completing this, you will need to take the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam, which is administered by the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES). In some states, fire engineers will need to become licensed.
Skills and relevant work experience
Fire engineers will need skills such as:
- Technical and IT skills, as they will need to use software to analyse the fire risk
- Attention to detail, as fire engineers must notice every detail and every potential hazard
- Problem-solving skills, as fire engineers will need to figure out ways to prevent and stop the spread of fire
- Prioritization skills, as fire engineers will need to manage a heavy workload
- Communication skills, as fire engineers will need to communicate with clients and other fire safety workers
- Relationship-building, as fire engineers will need to build professional relationships with members of the council and clients
Fire engineers typically work in multidisciplinary teams. They will work particularly closely with fire risk assessors, building service engineers and architects. Fire engineers typically work office hours, but may work longer if they are working on, or travelling to and from, a project site.
According to the salary.com the annual wage for a fire engineer was $66,406 in 2019. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $57,207, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $82,634.
Fire engineers may take further training, such as a masters degree, to specialise in a type of building. Such buildings could be a commercial, residential or mixed use, or even more narrowly in retail or high-rise, for example.