Fire-prevention and protection engineers design alarm systems, fire detection equipment and fire extinguishing systems. They inspect buildings or building designs to determine fire protection system conditions and possible issues in areas such as exit locations, water supplies and construction materials. Fire-prevention and protection engineers assist builders, architects and other construction staff with fire prevention equipment and techniques, and on fire code and standard compliance. They determine causes of fires and ways in which they could have been prevented.
Fire-prevention and protection engineers direct the purchase, installation, modification, maintenance and operation of fire protection systems. They also organize and write reports detailing particular fire prevention and protection issues.
Fire-prevention and protection engineers develop plans for the prevention of destruction by fire, wind and water.
They study the relationships between ignition sources and materials to determine how fires start.
They regularly attend workshops, seminars or conferences to present information regarding fire prevention and protection.
Work Environment for Fire-Prevention and Protection Engineers
Fire-prevention and protection engineers work in offices and on-site with architects and other engineers, building officials and fire departments to build and maintain fire safe communities. Many engineers work a standard 40-hour week; however, deadlines or disasters may require engineers to work longer hours.
Education, Training and Licensing
Fire-prevention and protection engineers usually enter the occupation with a bachelor’s degree. They typically need several years of work-related experience, on-the-job training, and/or vocational training. It is important for fire-prevention and protection engineers to enroll in continuing education to keep pace with rapidly changing technology.
Fire-protection and prevention engineers should plan on becoming licensed as a professional engineer (P.E.). Professional licensing as a fire-protection and prevention engineer brings many advantages. A licensed fire-protection and prevention engineer will earn an important credential that will bring recognition from the engineering community. Also, a license will help professional advancement, along with the potential for a higher salary. In most states, it is illegal to provide engineering services to the public without a license. Plus, employers of fire protection engineers benefit from having their employees licensed. Not only is it a competitive advantage; but it is also concrete evidence that an engineer is competent in fire protection engineering. Many jurisdictions in the United States have Continuing Professional Competency (CPC) requirements for licensed engineers.
Employment Figures, Projections, Outlook and Earnings
Fire-prevention and Protection engineers held 26,000 jobs in 2008, according to research published by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Most held titles of fire protection engineer, engineer, loss control manager and design director.
The BLS expects employment in this field to grow 13% from 2008 to 2018, which is average for all occupations.
BLS reports indicate that the median annual wage for salaried fire-prevention and protection engineers was $74,080 in 2008.