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What Does a Fire Protection Engineer Do?

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  • Written By: Andrew Kirmayer
  • Edited By: Shereen Skola
  • Last Modified Date: 16 July 2014
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    2003-2014
    Conjecture Corporation
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A fire protection engineer studies how to prevent fires from a scientific and engineering perspective. Using knowledge of how fires start and spread, and how buildings in general are used, he or she makes use of technology to evaluate the risk of fire. An engineer also designs systems to prevent and control fires, and even researches the flammability of materials. Fire protection engineer jobs can be found in many places, such as local and regional agencies, fire departments, consulting firms, and manufacturing facilities. To work in the field, one must have a background in mechanical, structural, chemical, and electrical engineering.

Risk analysis is performed on homes as well as industrial facilities. The fire protection engineer often works with architects to design buildings safe from fire. Specific projects can include high-rise buildings, stadiums, hospitals, as well as trains and ships. Some fire protection engineers work with space programs to find the safest materials and design fire prevention and control systems on spacecraft.

Fire protection engineer duties include testing materials in a laboratory to see how resistant to flame they are. When fires do occur, he or she can investigate how the fire spread and what went wrong with any protective systems that were in place. This information can be used to come up with ideas for better designs.

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The field of engineering for fire safety systems is a lucrative one in terms of income potential and the number of jobs. A fire protection engineer job description can vary depending on where one works. The job can be a high level engineering position at a major firm, or one can work in a petrochemical plant, insurance company, or a hospital. An engineer can also work with a forensics laboratory or fill a position at an agency that enforces fire codes. With the skills and knowledge required for the job, such an engineer can teach others at a college or university.

Fire protection engineer requirements first include an education at the master’s or doctorate level. At the bachelor’s level, one must study civil, mechanical, chemical, or electrical engineering. An understanding of 21st century technologies such as composite materials is needed, so the fire protection engineer knows how to work with them and gauge the level of flammability. The job also involves team work to perform adequate research into new technologies. This also helps in the use of tools to analyze, design, and test materials and fire protection systems.

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