When you’re in a fire, there’s no time to think – you’ve got to act quickly to get out of harm’s way.
Hopefully, someone’s already done all the necessary thinking for you, ahead of time. That someone was a fire protection engineer.
Fire protection engineering is more than simply installing a sprinkler system or deciding where the extinguishers should go in your apartment building. Fire protection engineers are charged with one of the most important jobs any engineer can ask for: Protecting the safety of the people who use the systems they design.
It’s a trade that uses science and engineering principles to protect people and structures from the destructive effects of fire and smoke. A fire protection engineer might design a system that controls fire, alerts people to danger or provides ways to escape fire; they might also evaluate existing structures’ and systems’ ability to do these things.
Here’s a look at a few of the tasks a fire protection engineer might perform.
Fire Safety Research. How does fire move through a building? How do people behave during a fire? One task a fire protection engineer might perform is analyzing systems, and checking them against existing data to see how they’ll fare when they’re put to the test.
Systems Design. Just about every law governing new building construction requires those buildings to have fire protection systems. Fire protection engineers create these systems, which can range in complexity from simple sprinklers to advanced detection and suppression systems.
Active Fire Protection. Local building codes require active fire protection systems tasked with the detection and suppression of fire. A fire protection engineer will install this system, which might use water or gas- or foam-based retardants to put fires out.
Passive Fire Protection. The goal of passive protection design is to contain fires to as small a space as possible. A fire protection engineer designing or installing a passive protection system will recommend building materials that slow the spread of fire.
Fire Protection Engineering Consulting.
Consultants run the gamut of fire protection engineering
services, from systems design to systems analysis. Many of these professionals work alone or as parts of larger engineering teams.