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BECOME A FIRE PR OTECTION ENGINEER

YO U R G U I D E TO A N E X C I T I N G F U T U R E

Careers
in
Incomes Grow for
Fire Protection Engineers
Developing Fire Protection
Engineering Consultants

Balancing Safety and Security


in the School Environment
Fire Investigation
and the Fire
Engineer

COVER STORY:

GENERATION

SUCCESS

Letter to the reader

A High Demand Industry

elcome to the second issue of Careers in Fire

Protection Engineering. The Society of Fire


Protection Engineers (SFPE), Fire Protection

Engineering magazine, and industry sponsors are

very excited to bring this publication to the engineering industry. Many

Special thanks to the


Society of Fire Protection Engineers
and our key sponsors below
for making this special issue
a possibility.

corporate leaders and educators have asked for this type of publication
to support growth within the profession. This special issue will focus
solely on promoting fire protection engineering as a career.
As an important member of the engineering community, we ask that
you help us educate your students, peers and those considering careers
in engineering by sharing this informational guide highlighting the
many opportunities available in fire protection engineering.
The editorial for this issue features two fire protection engineering
graduates talking about their experiences in college and as fire

Also contributing

protection engineers. The remaining editorial will discuss how fire


protection engineering is an exciting and rewarding career.
Please enjoy the second Careers in Fire Protection Engineering issue! We
hope that you will share it and reference it often to those interested and
curious about this exciting field. You can also access the issue digitally
at FPEmag.com/careers. For further instructions on accessing the digital magazine, please refer to page 15. Thank you for your support, and
enjoy your issue!
Sincerely,
The Sponsorship Committee

www.FPEmag.com/careers | 1

Careers

in

contents
COVER STORY

GENERATION

SUCCESS
Two fire protection engineers
tell what it takes to excel in
this exciting field.

page

FEATURES
11

Incomes Grow for Fire Protection Engineers


by Liz Novanty

18

Developing Fire Protection Engineering


Consultants
by George Toth

22

Balancing Safety and Security in the


School Environment
by Alex L. Szachnowicz, P.E.

24

Fire Investigation and the Fire Engineer


by Robert A. Schroeder, Ph.D.

SECTIONS
1
15
21
28

Letter to the Reader


Career Resources
Industry Resources
Letter from the Engineering
Program Manager

Online versions of all articles can be accessed at www.FPEmag.com/careers.


Address change correspondence should be sent to: Careers in Fire Protection Engineering,
Penton Media, Inc., 1300 East 9th Street, Cleveland, OH 44114 USA. Tel: 216.931.9180. Fax: 216.931.9969.
Copyright 2006, Society of Fire Protection Engineers. All rights reserved.

2 | Careers in Fire Protection Engineering 2006

Careers in Fire Protection Engineering


Careers in Fire Protection Engineering (ISSN 1524-900X)
is published annually by the Society of Fire Protection
Engineers (SFPE). The mission of Careers in Fire
Protection Engineering is to advance the practice of fire
protection engineering and to raise its visibility by providing
information to engineers, students and allied professionals.
The opinions and positions stated are the authors and do
not necessarily reflect those of SFPE.
Editorial Advisory Board
Carl F. Baldassarra, P.E., Schirmer Engineering Corporation
Don Bathurst, P.E.
Bob Boyer, Edwards Systems Technology
Thomas C. Brown, P.E., Rolf Jensen & Associates
Russell P. Fleming, P.E., National Fire Sprinkler Association
Morgan J. Hurley, P.E., Society of Fire Protection Engineers
William E. Koffel, P.E., Koffel Associates
Jane I. Lataille, P.E., Los Alamos National Laboratory
Margaret Law, M.B.E., Arup Fire
Edward Prendergast, P.E., Chicago Fire Dept. (Ret.)
Warren G. Stocker, Jr., Safeway, Inc.
Beth Tubbs, P.E., International Code Council
Personnel
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, SFPE
David Evans, P.E.
T ECHNICAL E DITOR , F IRE P ROTECTION E NGINEERING
Morgan Hurley, P.E., Technical Director, SFPE
T ECHNICAL E DITOR ,
C AREERS IN F IRE P ROTECTION E NGINEERING
Chris Jelenewicz, P.E., Engineering Program Manager, SFPE
P UBLISHER
Joe Pulizzi, Penton Custom Media
A CCOUNT M ANAGER
Jillian Lewis, Penton Custom Media
A CCOUNT C OORDINATOR
Jennifer Jones, Penton Custom Media
A RT D IRECTOR
David Bosak, Penton Custom Media
M EDIA S ERVICES M ANAGER
Susan Durishin, Penton Custom Media
C USTOM R EPRINTS
Michael Dudziak, Penton Custom Media
Sales Offices
N ORTHEAST
Tom Corcoran, District Manager
1507 East Woodbank Way
West Chester, PA 19380
610.696.1820; fax 610.429.1120
tomcorcoran@penton.com
N ORTH C ENTRAL / S OUTHEAST
Joe Dahlheimer, District Manager
1300 East 9th Street
Cleveland, OH 44114-1503
216.696.7000, ext. 9279; fax 216.696.3432
jdahlheimer@penton.com
C ENTRAL / W EST
Wayne Bayliss, District Manager
234 24th Place
Costa Mesa, CA 92627
949.701.1437; fax 949.857.1359
wbayliss@penton.com

Our heritage at SimplexGrinnell reaches back to


the mid 1800s. Weve seen the life-safety industry
evolve, demands grow, threats change, and
technology progress. Through it all, weve learned
the importance of leadership and the value of knowledge. Thats why were committed
to providing educational and training programs. For example, the SimplexGrinnell
Road Show Series is recognized industrywide for addressing the latest in fire and
life safety. Our Lunch and Learn seminars provide engineers, facility managers and
contractors with valuable protection insights. And we continue to make participation
in organizations such as NFPA and NFSA a priority. For more on how were sharing
what weve learned, visit www.simplexgrinnell.com/resourcecenter.

2006 SimplexGrinnell LP

SimplexGrinnell is a business unit of Tyco Fire & Security.

GENERATION

SUCCESS
Two fire protection engineers
tell what it takes to succeed
in this exciting field.

areers in Fire Protection Engineering


spoke with two fire protection engineers
to get their perspectives on everything
from searching for a job to trends in the
profession.

Amanda Moore studied fire protection engineering at Worcester Polytechnic Institute and
while there landed a consulting job at Arup. She
has been working in the fire protection engineering profession for two years.
Tony Caro, P.E., graduated from the
University of Maryland and now works for
the Fire Prevention Bureau & Investigation
Division for the City of Denver. He has been
working in the fire protection engineering
profession for over 10 years.

Careers in Fire Protection Engineering


(CFPE)How did you first hear about fire protection engineering, and what were your first
impressions?
Amanda Moore: (AM) It wasnt until my
sophomore year at Worcester Polytechnic Institute
that I had even heard of fire protection engineering.

At the time I was majoring in civil engineering.


When fire protection engineering first caught my
attention, I went and spoke
with one of the professors in
the department. He told me
more about what fire protection
engineers did and about possible
careers in the field. And thats when I
decided to apply to the program.
Tony Caro: (TC) It was through the
fire service that I first became aware of
fire protection engineering. I was
attending New Mexico State University,
working in the student-run fire department. One day when I was reading at
the firehouse, I came across an article
on fire protection engineering. At the
time I was majoring in industrial engineering and thought that it sounded
interesting.
CFPE: What attracted you to the field?
How did you ultimately decide to enter?
AM: I really like it because there are a
lot of different areas to work in. Like
consulting, working for a town or city
government, or working for a code
organization. And I liked the idea of fire
protection engineering being an emerging science. It was new, and that was
very exciting for me.
TC: I made the decision to join the
field when I was working on my degree
in industrial engineering. I had taken a
leave of absence from the fire depart-

ment to pursue two internships. That was when I


realized I wasnt as interested in
industrial engineering and manufacturing as I was in the fire service. I also
knew that I wanted to do more than just
fight fires, while still providing a service
to society. Fire protection engineering
was the right fit.
CFPE: What factors did you consider
and weigh? What was the tipping
point that led you to choose the field?
AM: After I spoke with a few professors and learned more about the field I
knew it was for me. I knew that this was
an exciting way to help people, and that
was important to me.
TC: During my second to last semester in college, I had just come back from
one of my internships and realized that

I had practically completed my degree in


industrial engineering, but it wasnt
something that I wanted to do for the
rest of my life. It was at that point that I
started getting serious about fire protection engineering.
I looked on the Internet and got more
information on the discipline, and discovered where I could continue with my
education. I contacted University of
Maryland and Worcester Polytechnic
Institute. I spoke with several of the professors and requested more information
from both schools. Ultimately, I ended
up at the University of Maryland
because of their connection to local fire
departments. While in school, I was able
www.FPEmag.com/careers | 5

Generation Success continued

A Day in the Life


Theres no such thing as a typical day for a fire protection
engineer, but heres a glimpse of what Amanda and Tony do
on a day-to-day basis.

AMANDAS DAY

TONYS DAY

Morning

Morning

Check e-mail and messages,


and respond to clients pressing
questions about fire code reviews.

Meet with division chief to


discuss a fire that had occurred in
a high-rise over the weekend.

Reply to questions posted on


Arups online message board. The
board connects Arup employees
all over the globe to pool their
collective problem-solving skills.

Visit a major airlines hangar


at Denver International Airport to
discuss one of its primary fire
water storage tanks.

Afternoon
Review drawings for latest
project and mark up based on
problem areas.
Check the progress of latest
computational fluid dynamics
model.
Write up results of computational
fluid dynamics model and revise
existing recommendations to
clients.

Make recommendations on how


the airline should deal with
hangars lack of redundant fire
protection systems while they are
out of service for maintenance

Afternoon
Review plans on a 30-story
high-rise building and its sprinkler
system.
Show developer problems with
plans because contractors were
not coordinated.
Attend a code revision meeting,
where city planners review codes
and policies.

6 | Careers in Fire Protection Engineering 2006

to live at a firehouse for free in


exchange for my service.
CFPE: Was the transition between
engineering disciplines difficult to
make?
AM: It wasnt too bad, really. There
were a few engineering science classes
that I had to take to catch up. But it
wasnt bad at all.
TC: It was somewhat difficult in that I
started to do this research in my second
to last semester, so when the University of
Maryland reviewed my curriculum in
industrial engineering, they pointed out
that there were a few classes that I still
needed to take. However, the technical
aspects translated easily.
CFPE: What were some of the highlights or memorable moments of engineering school?
AM: When I was in school, I liked the
project work. It was realistic, like if you
worked at a consulting firm, which is
exactly what Im doing now.
TC: What was most memorable were
the challenging parts. One of the challenges for me was being a firefighter by
night, and working and going to school
by day. All that being said, I always
knew that I had a passion for this work,
so that gave me the drive.
CFPE: What is your overall assessment of your schools program? Did it
prepare you adequately for the real
world?
AM: I think it did. The experience
you gain over the years, especially with
code work, really pays off. Worcester
Polytechnic Institute did a good job of
showing me the breadth of all the topics
in the field.
TC: Absolutely. I think the best portion of University of Marylands program
was that it taught you the history of the
profession and the technical aspects of
the job. There are not enough fire protection engineers in the world to fill all the
available positions. So a lot of times these
positions get filled by people in other
engineering disciplines. But we have an
advantage because of our education.
CFPE: Do you wish you had done anything in college to have better prepared for
a career in fire protection engineering?
AM: Not really. The internship I had

was part-time for a year, so that really


gave me a good understanding of what I
was going to expect. It definitely helped
me out after I graduated.
TC: I would have taken more structural engineering courses to get a better
understanding of how buildings are
developed and built. It is amazing how
many factors a fire protection engineer
must take into account to perform his
or her job.
CFPE: What would you recommend
to high school and college students to
help them prepare for a degree and later
a career in fire protection engineering?
AM: I would have them talk to a fire
protection engineer or someone who
works in the field to get a feel for what
theyll want to do. People usually dont
know a lot about fire protection engineering, so its good to get as much
information as possible, as a first step.
TC: I think high school students
should engage themselves in the technical courses, like math and science. Also,
learn good time-management skills.
For college students, I would recommend that they dont narrow in on any
specific portion of the field and keep an
open mind. Attempt every aspect of the
field through course work and internships.
CFPE: How did you decide where to
work? Was it easy to land your first job?
AM: I had interned for Arup for a
year, so actually finding a job was pretty
easy. I also had some interviews set up
through my school. But Arup gave me
an offer, and I liked working there, and
it was local.
TC: For the first 10 years of my
career, I worked in private practice for a
consulting firm. And that was very
rewarding and challenging.
CFPE: What was the most memorable part of your first job?
AM: I have gotten to work on a
bunch of diverse projects. We worked as
part of the National Construction
Safety Team to investigate the Station
Nightclub fire in Rhode Island, a fire
that resulted in 100 deaths. That definitely made an impression on me. It
was really good work, and it felt like we
were doing something useful.
TC: I spent the first five years travel-

ing internationally, so I got to see a lot


of cool places. I was working in the
South American division, and traveled
around South America, Central America
and Mexico working on various jobs.
I remember working on an oil refinery in Venezuela. I was on site for a couple of months, and our role was to work
with the fire department to teach them
about the fire protection systems that
were in the refinery. We also had to analyze 60 kilometers of pipeline to make
sure it was up to code, and conduct
field studies and run simulations to create maps that were later used by plant
managers.
CFPE: Is your job satisfying? Why is
it satisfying?
AM: Yes. I feel like we make buildings
safer for people, and that is a very satisfying feeling.
TC: Without a doubt, because I set
out to do this a long time ago. Its very
rewarding to know that I am accomplishing my goals, and to be in a position where I can assist society on a
global scale.
CFPE: What parts are the most challenging? What are exciting elements of
your job?
AM: I have a big project right now
that involves fire modeling of subway
stations. And just learning that type of
modeling was pretty challenging.
TC: One of the most challenging
things is the scheduling. Time management is critical. You may have a $300 million job, and you only have three hours to
review it and make sure it meets fire protection and life safety codes.
CFPE: What direction is the industry going?
AM: I think that fire modeling is
becoming more and more prevalent in
the industry. More building officials are
accepting sophisticated modeling for
design of smoke-management systems. I
think this trend will continue. Along the
same lines, evacuation modeling is also
being used more and more.
TC: We continue to utilize that concept of performance-based design, which
in turn makes fire protection engineers
even more valuable, given the tools and
the knowledge that we possess.

HERES A JOB FOR YOU


TO INVESTIGATE
The diversity of job opportunities
for fire protection engineers is one
of the things that makes a career in
the profession so alluring. One
path that many fire protection engineers find rewarding is fire code
review and inspection, or working
in a fire marshals office.
Usually employed by a city or a state
agency, these engineers directly
affect the lives of hundreds of thousands of people a day. Communities
depend on these men and women to
secure the life-safety systems of the
buildings they use on a daily basis.
Engineers who work in code review
study and approve building plans,
safety systems and code regulations
for public buildings. They must
have a detailed understanding of
the field because they frequently
have to design specialty systems to
account for unique building
hazards and situations.
Their knowledge can also be used
during an investigation to determine
how, where and when a fire started
and how the fire changed as it
burned. The information that they
provide is used by the police, fire
department, building owners, litigators and the insurance industry.

www.FPEmag.com/careers | 7

SPECIAL SPONSOR SECTION

An Education and Industry Leader


Fire Protection Engineering at WPI
WPI is a world leader in fire protection engineering education; our graduates are highly trained and
work in all areas of fire safety. We will continue to lead the way in providing a premier education
and professional training for those engaged in the exciting field of fire protection engineering.
- Kathy Notarianni, FPE Department Head

Worcester Polytechnic Institute Fire Protection Engineering graduates


share a single goal: saving lives by making the world a safer place.
April earned a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering
in 1985 and an M.S. in Fire Protection
Engineering in 1988 at WPI.

I love my work.
We save lives
every day in fire
protection engineering. Going
to WPI was the
best decision
I ever made.

April Berkol
Director, Environmental Health,
Fire, and Life Safety,
Starwood Hotels &
Resorts Worldwide, Inc.,
White Plains, New York
With responsibility for 750 hotels in
80 countries (some with more than 1,200
rooms), along with Starwood-owned spa
resorts and timeshare properties, April
Berkol holds a lot of lives in her hands.
Factor in nearly 130,000 employees and
numerous contractors, service people, and
delivery trucks that pass through each day,
and the result is a mind-boggling population
density with wide-open access. Her job is
to set corporate policy and procedures for
fire and life safety programs, and to monitor

Dave Waller
Fire Safety Engineer,
North Metro Fire Rescue District,
Broomfield, Colorado

compliance; she also works with Starwoods


real estate group to review designs for new
hotels and oversees environmental inspections of properties designed for new
builds, sales, and acquisitions always
keeping in mind the safety of hotel guests.
April credits her WPI education with
helping her gain expertise in a methodical
approach to problem-solving. With
WPIs team-based approach, you learn
to choose those whose skills complement
your own and work together to solve
problems, much like how things work in
the real world, she says, adding that WPI
is small enough to be comfortable. Youll
find a tight-knit community thats also
diverse. And Worcester is an ideal location,
with world-class museums and wonderful
cultural activities.

Bored by an internship in mechanical


engineering, Dave Waller returned to
WPI as a full-time student for his graduate
degree in Fire Protection Engineering.
He joined the student firefighter program
in the Auburn (Mass.) Fire Department,
where he lived with other students in one
of the stations and, in return for room
and board, worked as an on-call firefighter
for the town. It was a tremendous opportunity, says Waller, who got his feet wet
dousing flames.
Today, in his work as a fire safety engineer with the North Metro Fire Rescue
District, Waller reviews building design
plans for code compliance. Key to this work
is convincing often-reluctant developers and
owners to go the distance for safety.
I was able to keep my education going
while working, says Dave, who took his
final courses via WPIs Advanced Distance
Learning Network while working full time.
The convenience of distance learning and
cost were key factors in his decision.
Without WPIs distance learning program,
he says, I would not have been able to
complete my masters in Fire Protection
Engineering as quickly. It was also advantageous to me financially, since it allowed
me to work full time.

We know how to protect peoples lives, how to


protect property. And Id say were pretty good
at that, as a fire science industry.

Five solid reasons


to pursue a career
in FPE
Fire protection engineering is one
of the most important emerging
occupations of the decade; its a
hot career on the rise.
The demand for fire protection
engineers far exceeds the number
who earn their degrees each year.
Job opportunities exist in consulting
and architectural engineering firms,
corporations, the insurance industry,
educational institutions, building
and fire research, and all levels of
government, including fire safety
and enforcement.

Dave earned his B.S. in Mechanical Engineering in 1994 from WPI and an M.S. in
Fire Protection Engineering in 1998, both on
campus and through WPIs Advanced Distance
Learning Network.

Ben Ditch
Research Scientist, Protection Research
FM Global, Norwood, Massachusetts
When a job in mechanical engineering
didnt feel like a good fit for Ben Ditch,
he looked into the variety of opportunities
presented by the field of fire protection
engineering. He started his masters degree
studies as a full-time campus student after
earning his undergraduate degree, then

took advantage of WPIs internship


program. When his one-year stint with
3M in Minnesota was extended to nearly
three years, Ben finished his graduate
degree via WPIs Advanced Distance
Learning Network.
Ben says he benefited from the wide
range of professional experience that his
distance classmates contributed to the
learning process. You get a variety of
different perspectives, he explains. I
knew I could get help with questions
from among the people who were in my
group.
Ben also points out that he was able
to complete the program while working
full time. That meant he earned his degree

WPI is seen as a leading institution for fire protection engineering.


The university did a tremendous
amount for me in expanding my
professional network.

Fire protection engineers graduating


from WPI are among those in high
demand for jobs. WPI master of science graduates often have starting
salaries up to $10K/year more than
other engineering starting salaries;
Ph.D. salaries are even higher.
Professionals in fire protection engineering come from a wide variety
of undergraduate degree majors,
including civil, chemical, mechanical, and electrical engineering, as
well as the physical sciences.
A fire protection engineers job
is challenging, pioneering, and
makes a real difference in the
world. FPEs apply science and
engineering principles to protect
people and their environment.

with no debt load and was able to apply


his knowledge immediately. WPI is very
good at teaching students how to investigate and analyze, he says. Once out in
the professional world, you know how to
approach situations where youre solving a
novel problem. From a research standpoint, I have to develop fire safety tests on
new products. Its on my shoulders to figure out how to get it done correctly. WPI
prepared me well for these challenges.
Ben earned his B.S. in Mechanical Engineering
in 2000 from WPI and an M.S. in Fire
Protection Engineering in 2002 through WPIs
Advanced Distance Learning Network.

SPECIAL SPONSOR SECTION

What an
FPE Degree
from WPI Can
Do for You
Youll learn while you earn.
WPIs unique one-year internship
program sends you into a professional
environment to apply your knowledge
while you gain on-the-job skills. Companies
are highly committed to sponsoring WPI
FPE interns, and many students receive
job offers before receiving their degrees.
Additionally, there are research and teaching
assistant grants for full-time students.
Youll have flexibility as you earn
your degree.
WPI offers a variety of ways to pursue
an FPE degree, no matter what your
financial, geographical, professional, or
family needs are. Enroll in distance-learning
FPE courses while youre earning your
undergraduate degree elsewhere, earn two
degrees in WPIs unique 5-year BS/MS
option, or earn your masters on campus or
by distance learning. You can even switch
between on-campus and distance-learning
programs if you want!
Youll learn from some of the best
fire protection engineering faculty.
Our faculty served on FEMAs World
Trade Center investigation team; conduct
fire and explosion incident investigations
for the U.S. Chemical Safety Board, the
U.S. Department of Energy, the Mass.
Bay Transit Authority, and the Motor
Vehicle Fire Research Institute; chair
prestigious committees (including the Fire
Committee of the American Composites
Manufacturers Association); and work
collaboratively with fire detection and
automatic suppression manufacturers as
well as with the Society of Fire Protection
Engineers. Their real-world experience
becomes your real-world experience.
Youll be exposed to cutting-edge
fire research and testing.
FPE faculty research has led to innovations in policies, equipment, and practices.

Our faculty are sharing the future of the


fire protection engineering field and fire
safety. Their efforts range from saving lives
today by researching fire properties of
material and protective clothing to looking
toward the future with mathematical modeling and computer simulations of fires in
buildings, ships, and transit systems.

WPI FPE Department


Mission Statement: To deliver
a high-quality fire protection
engineering education program
for both full-time students
and practicing professionals,
supported by fire research in
selected areas of strength.

Youll form a peer network with strong


industry ties while youre learning.
Whether on campus or through distance
learning, youll utilize the background,
skills, and experience of your peers
through WPIs nontraditional classroom
experience. The diversity of backgrounds
offered by your peers enables a vibrant
exchange of ideas and viewpoints as well
as builds your network of professional
relationships and industry contacts.
Youll have versatility in the job market.
WPIs Fire Protection Engineering
Program is oriented toward developing
a well-rounded professional who can be
successful in a competitive career environment. Our educational philosophy requires
that you know more than just the subject
matter; youll also learn how to be an
effective communicator, solve unstructured
problems, and hold a high degree of
professionalism.

Kathy Notarianni, Department Head


B.S., Chemical Engineering, WPI; M.S., Fire
Protection Engineering, WPI; Ph.D., Engineering and Public Policy, Carnegie-Mellon
University
Background: Kathy Notarianni was, for
15 years, project leader and research engineer at the National Institute of Standards
and Technology, where she started and grew
a large fire research program and managed
a team of scientists and engineers.

HIGHLIGHTS OF THE 2005 SFPE SALARY SURVEY

GROW

Incomes
F O R

F I R E

P R O T E C T I O N

E N G I N E E R S

BY LIZ NOVANTY

Salaries for Fire


Protection Engineers
Continue to Grow as
Demand Increases

ire protection engineers are in high


demand, commanding high salaries and
having a high level of job satisfaction.
Periodically, the Society of Fire
Protection Engineers conducts a salary
survey of their members. The 13th salary survey was conducted from mid-to late-2005,
reflecting income information for 2004.
Salaries for fire protection engineers continue
to increase as demand for their skills grows. In
the two years since the previous SFPE salary
survey, the median (the point in which half
earn less and half earn more) income for all of
those working in fire protection engineering
grew approximately $7,000. While total income
is influenced by a persons age, education, job
location, experience and job responsibilities,
these data are a representative sample of fire
protection engineers worldwide.
Data from the 2005 salary survey shows that:

Median income (including bonuses) for


all those working in fire protection engineering in 2004 was $92,000.

Median income for engineers with 1-2


years experience working in fire protection engineering was $56,000; for those
with 24 or more years experience, it was
$110,000.

Approximately 42 percent of survey


respondents earned over $100,000 in
2004, and only about 4 percent of respondents earned less than $50,000.
www.FPEmag.com/careers | 11

Survey Highlights continued

Profile of Fire Protection


Engineer
A total of 1,268 members responded
to the 2005 SFPE survey, representing
approximately 28 percent of the SFPE
membership. The profile of the typical
fire protection engineer is similar to
that from the 2003 salary survey of
SFPE members.

71 percent of survey respondents are


40 years of age or older.

87 percent of survey respondents


work in the United States; however,
some respondents work in multiple
countries.

89 percent of survey respondents had


earned at least a bachelors degree,
with 30 percent of those having
earned a masters or Ph.D. degree.

45 percent of survey respondents


earned a degree in fire protection
engineering.

62 percent of survey respondents


work as a consultant or project
engineer.

64 percent of survey respondents are


licensed in one or more states.

74 percent of licensed respondents


are registered in fire protection engineering, followed by 17 percent are
licensed in mechanical engineering.

Types of Businesses
Consulting and engineering services
continues to employ the largest number
of fire protection engineers with 46 percent of respondents employed in this
sector. The next most frequently cited
employer is government, which includes
federal, state or local government (16
percent). This category also includes
respondents who work in the fire service and building departments. Other
employers of fire protection engineers
include:
Nearly half (48 percent) of all
respondents to the 2005 salary survey
are employed by companies with more
than 100 employees. Twenty-eight percent of fire protection engineers work
12 | Careers in Fire Protection Engineering 2006

for employers with between 1 and 10


employees.
While the large majority of fire protection engineers work in the United
States (87 percent), other engineers
work in Europe, Far East Asia, Central
and South America, Australia, New
Zealand and the Middle East.

Benefits
Generous benefits are another reason
to consider working in fire protection
engineering. The vast majority of
respondents receive medical benefits,
pension plans, tuition reimbursement,
paid professional dues and bonuses.
Other benefits cited were compensation
time, flexible spending accounts, flexible
work schedules, housing stipends and
life insurance.

Type of Work Performed


While duties for the fire protection
engineer can vary by where they are
employed, respondents were asked to
select their top two most frequently performed tasks. The following were the
most often cited tasks performed:
Planning project drawing reviews for
code requirements (46 percent); fire
protection system design (32 percent);
risk management (28 percent) and
physical facility fire prevention inspection (23 percent).
Other tasks included were performance-based design (18 percent); codes
and standards development (13 percent); special fire protection applications (8 percent); construction planning
and cost estimating (7 percent); and
facility safety and security program
development (4 percent).

Income
Results from the SFPE 2005 salary
survey show a wide range in incomes
depending upon the persons age, experience, education and employer type.
As expected, the fire protection engineers salary increases as he or she
obtains additional education. Despite
the fact that the median salary for survey respondents with a bachelors or a

masters degree was the same in 2004,


the engineer with a masters degree
earns a higher salary after the first few
years of working. For example, for
those respondents with a bachelors
degree and between 4 and 6 years
experience in fire protection engineering, the median salary was $63,000 in
2004. However, the median salary for
respondents with a masters degree
and between 4 and 6 years experience
was $70,000 in 2004.
The median total income in 2004 for
those engineers who are a CEO, a principal, or a manager was $110,000,
reflecting additional experience and
responsibilities that these types of positions require. However, the majority of
respondents (62 percent) work as a
technical worker, consultant or project
or program engineer in which their
median income was $85,000 in 2004.
Fire protection engineers work in a
wide variety of businesses. The highest-paid fire protection engineers are
employed in insurance companies and
in industry, with a median salary
including bonuses of $100,000 per
year. Those survey respondents who
work in a consulting firm, which
employs the highest percentage of fire
protection engineers, had a median
total income of $90,000. These are all
substantial increases from the previous
salary survey, reflecting some income
increases as high as $20,000. The 2003

Results from the SFPE 2005


salary survey show a wide
range in incomes depending
upon the persons age,
experience, education,
and employer type.

www.FPEmag.com/careers | 13

Survey Highlights continued

reported that 26 percent or more of


their total income in 2004 was a bonus.
The median amount that was additional
compensation was 11 percent.
Fire protection engineers continue to
be well paid. Data from the 2005 salary
survey show that 39 percent of respondents received between 3 percent and 6
percent base salary increase for their
previous two years of employment.

The Future

salary survey showed that the median


salary for all those practicing fire protection engineering in the various categories was under $85,000 in 2002.
Bonuses in addition to the engineers
base salary can comprise a substantial
part of a fire protection engineers

income. A majority (62%) of those in


the SFPE salary survey received a bonus
as part of their income with nearly one
quarter of those receiving between 6
percent and 10 percent of their income
as a bonus. Approximately 22 percent
of respondents who received a bonus

14 | Careers in Fire Protection Engineering 2006

This past year, SFPE surveyed 25 of


the largest employers of fire protection
engineers and found that over 90 percent of them encountered difficulties in
finding qualified candidates for fire protection engineer positions. They cited
not finding enough applicants in the
geographic location; applicants not having sufficient experience; and applicants
not having the necessary education as
the major barriers to finding qualified
candidates. It took employers approximately five months to recruit a fire protection engineer. The overwhelming
majority of employers stated that they
intend to hire more fire protection engineers in the future. The shortages of fire
protection engineers are particularly
acute in the western and southern
United States, where there are no colleges with fire protection engineering
programs.
Fire protection engineering is an
exciting, dynamic field with graduates
in high demand. They are paid well,
have job security, have many choices of
locations to work and live, and have
opportunities to work in a variety of
situations. Fire protection engineering
is also branching out into other countries, bringing exciting international
opportunities. Being a fire protection
engineer also brings great personal satisfaction in having a job that contributes to making the world a safer
and better place.
Information for this article was acquired
from the Society of Fire Protection
Engineers. The executive summary from the
13th SFPE Survey can be viewed at
www.sfpe.org.

Career resources

Access the FREE


digital version of
Careers in Fire
Protection Engineering
at FPEmag.com.
Go to FPEmag.com/careers.
Enter info on Subscribe page.
Click SUBMIT.
You will be routed to the digital version of
Careers in Fire Protection Engineering.

Koffel Associates, Inc., specializes in fire


protection engineering, security consulting,
and building and fire code consulting.
Growing steadily since 1986, the firm provides services to clients throughout the United
States and internationally. Recently, the firm expanded services to truly integrate fire protection and security, and is a
pioneer in the area of convergence engineering.
Koffel Associates operates with an understanding that the
strength of the firm is based upon the quality of our
employees. The firm is committed to the professional
growth and development of all employees by supporting
participation in educational seminars and conferences,
pursuit of advanced degrees, and by conducting an inhouse professional development conference for all
employees. For those employees who are not yet registered engineers, the firm provides a variety of project
experience to provide the necessary background to pursue professional registration.
For more information, please visit our Web site:
www.koffel.com.
STANTON ENGINEERING SERVICES
FIRE PROTECTION ENGINEERS
LIFE SAFETY ANALYSIS & CONSULTATION
FIRE PROTECTION SYSTEMS DESIGN
Stanton Engineering, a regional fire

Tyco Fire & Building Products is a leading global manu-

facturer of water-based fire suppression system components and ancillary building construction products. It continually expands its capabilities through aggressive
research and product development to provide its customers effective fire protection and construction solutions
for residential, commercial, industrial and institutional
buildings. At Tyco Fire & Building Products, more than
3,000 employees worldwide are focused on the design,
manufacture and technical support of fire and mechanical
systems. Headquartered in Lansdale, PA, Tyco Fire &
Building Products employs engineering, sales, manufacturing and support personnel in its offices and service centers to support its numerous product brands. Dedicated to
hiring the most talented employees, the company offers
competitive compensation plans and features a brandnew state-of-the-art R&D facility in Cranston, RI, that is
devoted to the training, engineering and testing of many
of its patented products.
More information can be found at www.tyco-fire.com.

engineering firm, is looking for experienced fire protection engineers for


our Columbia, MD, office to solve
our clients fire protection and life
safety challenges on a vast array of projects in the eastern United States. We need motivated, well-qualified
engineers and project management talent to provide our
clients with quality designs and consultation. Candidates
should have a degree in Fire Protection Engineering or
related field with a minimum of five years relevant experience with a proficiency in communications skills, code
analysis, and systems design. Our expectation is that candidates provide quality technical expertise and on-time,
professional responses for our clients.
Incentives include flexible hours in a positive team environment, structured promotional program, professional
development opportunities, competitive salary, and a
compensation package that includes vacation, holidays,
pension plan, compensatory time, sick leave, annual
bonuses and health and workers insurance.
Interested candidates should e-mail resums and contact
information to tstanton@stantonengineering.com.
www.FPEmag.com/careers | 15

SPECIAL SPONSOR SECTION

Helping Educate the

Engineers of Tomorrow

Fire protection engineers play a critically important role in


the fire and life-safety industry and in society as a whole.
Thats especially true today, for we live in an age where the
protection of life and property has taken on more significance and a higher profile than ever before. As now practiced, fire protection engineering is a challenging career that
involves the analysis of fire hazards; the mitigation of fire
damage; the design, installation and maintenance of fire detection, suppression and communication systems; and the
completion of post-fire investigation and analysis.

As SFPE promotes the profession in this special Careers in


Fire Protection Engineering supplement, its an opportune
time to emphasize that education is the key to enticing people into the profession, preparing them to enter the workforce, furthering their knowledge and insight on a continuing
basis, and conducting research to meet future challenges.
That is also the underlying principle behind the strong commitment SimSafety is a top priority plexGrinnell
makes to supin todays world for
port academic
institutions
businesses, institutions
that educate
and government entities. fire protection
Dean Seavers,
engineers and
president, SimplexGrinnell
to share its
knowledge and experience with the industry in general. A
business unit of Tyco Fire & Security, SimplexGrinnell provides fire protection and life-safety solutions for hundreds of
thousands of customers throughout North America. But the
company views the type of education and training initiatives
described below as an equally important facet of its work.

Worcester Polytechnic Institute: SimplexGrinnell


has had a longstanding relationship with the universitys internationally recognized Fire Protection Engineering Department. The program was created in 1979, when WPI began offering the nations first masters degree program in fire
protection engineering through its Center for Firesafety Studies. Since that time, SimplexGrinnell has been honored to be
associated with the Center for Firesafety Studies and to support WPIs exemplary work in developing top-caliber fire
protection engineers. SimplexGrinnells involvement with
the WPI Fire Protection Engineering Program has included fi-

nancial contributions, internship opportunities for engineering students in Tycos Westminster-based smoke lab, support
for class projects, and the donation of fire alarm equipment.

University of Maryland: SimplexGrinnell has been a


longtime supporter of the universitys Department of Fire
Protection Engineering, which is commemorating 50 years
of service and education. More than 800 graduates from the
Department of Fire Protection Engineering are now employed in the industry. Through financial contributions, lecturers for specialized courses, and support for student research projects, SimplexGrinnell helps the Department fulfill
its mission: To reduce the burden of fire losses on life and
property by providing the highest quality of scientificallybased education, research and outreach in fire protection
engineering and in fire-related safety, health and environmental issues.
Industry Educational Activities: In addition to its
support of academic institutions such as WPI and the University of Maryland, SimplexGrinnell engages in proactive outreach to the industry. This educational commitment is particularly evident in the SimplexGrinnell Fire and Life-Safety
Road Show Series, which attracts practicing engineers from
throughout the United States and Canada. Now in its fourth
year, the road show series has become an integral part of
SimplexGrinnells operations. The goal is to share
SimplexGrinnells knowledge, insight and experience in an
effort to raise the overall quality of protection in the industry.
SimplexGrinnell is proud of its road show series and honored that so many engineering professionals attend the
seminars to further their knowledge and understanding of
fire and life-safety protection. Along these same lines,
SimplexGrinnell also provides lunch-and-learn sessions for
engineers. In addition, its Learning Resource Center
(www.simplexgrinnell.com/resourcecenter) is a centralized
repository that enables industry professionals to quickly and easily
link to information about a multitude of SimplexGrinnell programs
and events, including the road show series.
Safety is a top priority in todays world for businesses, institutions and government entities, says Dean Seavers, president of SimplexGrinnell. Were proud of the ongoing commitment to education that SimplexGrinnell makes as an
industry leader.

W
W

ere building a bright future at SimplexGrinnell. The team at


SimplexGrinnell is dedicated to serving customers and expanding our
business through a core strategy of organic growth. To do that, we are
strengthening our industry-leading team by adding highly committed
professionals who share our values of integrity, excellence, teamwork and
accountability. Are you ready to discover your future?

WHERE
TALENT MEETS
OPPORTUNITY.

As part of Tyco, our team members share the advantages of working for a
Fortune 50 company. Our substantial resources allow us to be the market
leader in the fire and life-safety industry and provide outstanding service to
our customers. Yet, despite the companys size, our people are more than
just a number. Our team members lead the way as we work together to fulfill
our mission. As a new team member, you can expect to earn responsibility
quickly and have a say in improving our organization.
The commitment to our people is visible in the companys comprehensive
benefit package. SimplexGrinnell team members enjoy the following:
Competitive salaries/wages

Tuition reimbursement

Health, Medical,
and Dental insurance

Employee stock purchase plans

Paid vacation
Paid sick and personal days
Employer-paid life insurance
Paid holidays

Flexible spending accounts


Employee discount programs
Computer purchase program
Incentive opportunities
And more . . .

Matching 401(k) plans


SimplexGrinnell, a unit of Tyco Fire and Security, is the North American
leader in fire and life-safety systems and services. We are a world-class
organization that combines the strength, and excellence of two longtime
industry leaders: Simplex and Grinnell Fire Protection. That heritage gives
SimplexGrinnell more than 200 years of experience in our industry.
SimplexGrinnell is committed to being a single-source life-safety provider
that delivers unequaled customer service. Operating with over 100 offices in
a geographic area that covers all of North America, SimplexGrinnell services
a wide variety of customers, including the Pentagon, the Smithsonian
Institute and Mount Rushmore.
For additional information, including a list of available career opportunities, please visit us on the web at
www.simplexgrinnelltalenttrack.com.

SIMPLEXGRINNELL, LP
Phone: 800.SIMPLEX

One Town Center Road, Boca Raton, FL 33486


www.simplexgrinnelltalenttrack.com

who have little or no practical experience will be able to command a salary at


the very top of the engineering entrylevel pay scale as well as select where
they live and work.
In the not-too-distant past, the key
differentiators among fire protection
consulting firms typically were ranked
in the following order: (1) company
reputation and culture; (2) caliber of
project opportunities; (3) total compensation; and (4) office location. Today, a
graduate fire protection engineer can
expect the company they select to offer
all four, together with the opportunity
for advancement and the freedom to
develop innovative engineering solutions on challenging projects.

Getting an Early Start

DEVELOPING

FIRE PROTECTION ENGINEERING

CONSULTANTS
F
BY GEORGE TOTH

ire protection engineering is a field


in which jobs involve solving a
variety of challenges to life safety.
The rewards saving lives and
protecting assets are unlike any
found in other segments of the engineering profession. A good fire protection engineer is seldom at a loss for
employment, the compensation is excellent and the career paths are varied.
Right now, the global design/build
market is hot, with virtually every market
segment from entertainment and education to healthcare and residential building showing double-digit annual growth.
Consequently, the demand for fire protection engineers is at an all-time high.

On the supply side, there is a shortage of engineers of all disciplines. This


is especially true in the fire protection
engineering profession where there are
simply not enough colleges, universities
and technical schools offering a fire
protection engineering curriculum.
Despite efforts to attract students and
expand their programs, the handful of
schools offering an advanced degree in
fire protection engineering cant keep
up with the demand at the present time.
The high-demand/low-supply situation presents severe manpower problems for companies who need to hire
fire protection engineers right now.
Even graduate fire protection engineers

18 | Careers in Fire Protection Engineering 2006

For a person pursuing a degree in fire


protection engineering undergraduate
or advanced its never too early to get
involved in the profession. An excellent
first step is to join a student chapter of
the Society of Fire Protection Engineers
(SFPE). Currently, there are student
chapters on six college campuses.
Student chapters provide speakers,
seminars and field trips for both graduate and undergraduate students. They
also provide additional opportunities
for students to interact with practicing
professionals and to learn more about
the field of fire protection engineering.
Through regular programs of oncampus speaking engagements and
recruiting activities, companies maintain close associations with top performers at fire protection engineering
schools. Many firms even offer scholarship programs to help financially in the
pursuit of a degree.
By taking full advantage of these programs, a student can learn about a
potential employers company culture,
their engineering methodology, and
meet some of their practicing fire protection engineers. The most promising
candidates are offered summer internships at many companies. This experience not only gives a student an opportunity to sample life in the real world,
but also enables them to live temporarily
in an area where they might want to
relocate after graduation. These interns

would typically participate on projects


under the guidance of veteran
engineers. When they return to school,
hopefully they will have gained a
measure of practical experience but also
learned about the companys
environment.

Taking an Alternative Route


The most direct route to becoming a
fire protection engineer is to attend a
college offering a course of engineering
study leading to a degree or advanced
degree in fire protection engineering.
Among the top fire protection engineering schools are the University of
Maryland, Worcester Polytechnic
Institute and Oklahoma State University.
However, many highly successful professionals in the business have taken
alternative routes. These individuals
have varied education backgrounds in
all types of professional disciplines
including architecture, electrical and
mechanical engineering, and even software engineering. Today, with the
advances in distance learning, these
technically competent professionals
have an effective way to obtain a fire
protection engineering degree. Most of
these individuals continue on to
become registered professional engineers and enhance both their careers
and their employers fire protection
consulting practices.
An excellent example of this alternative approach is Ronald Mahlman,
engineering manager of Rolf Jensen &
Associates San Francisco office. While
studying mechanical engineering at
Marquette University, Mahlman participated in an internship program at the
company, working on projects in multiple locations including Chicago,
Washington, DC, Atlanta and Denver.
Upon graduation in 1989, he joined the
firm as an associate engineer.
Mahlman continued his professional
development by passing the Engineer in
Training (EIT) exam as the first step
toward earning his Professional
Engineer status. In 1994, he passed the
Professional Engineer exam in
California. He progressed from consulting engineer to senior consultant to
associate manager. In 2005, he was pro-

moted to Engineering Manager.


In addition to gaining practical fire
protection engineering experience
through participation on high-profile
projects, Mahlman has also participated
in internal learning programs with his
employer on topics ranging from fire
modeling and project management to
business development. An active member of SFPE and Subcommittee
Chairman of an industry committee, he

recently completed the training process


to become a Leadership in Energy and
Environmental Design (LEED)
Accredited Professional (AP).

The Conversion to Consultant


If a graduate chooses to work for a
consulting firm, what may or may not
be missing in their personal portfolio of
skill sets is the ability to function as a
consultant. The technical qualities that

www.FPEmag.com/careers | 19

Fire Protection Engineering


at the University of Texas

Developing FPE Consultants continued

make a good fire protection engineer


are only part of what it takes to be a
good consultant. The essential elements
of consulting include:
Presenting the firms qualifications.
To an engineer schooled in the science of fire protection, this task may
sound suspiciously like the art of selling, which, of course, it is. However,
without the ability to develop business, the consultant will not have a
backlog of projects on which to apply
their engineering talents.
Listening to the client. If a consultant
listens, the client will define their fire
protection challenges and provide
their time and budgetary parameters.
Developing innovative solutions. This
is where the consultant applies their
knowledge and expertise to protect
people, property and business assets.
However, true consultants dont just
rely on their own expertise. They
need to network with other members of the firm in order to tap into
their companys total resources.
Performing on time and within budget.
Heres where the science and practice of fire protection engineering
unite. While the engineering mind
looks for the ultimate solution to the
challenge, the consulting mind is
keenly aware of the need to complete
the project on the clients timetable
and eliminate cost overruns.
Communicating with the client.
No matter how technically skilled a
consultant may be, they must be
mindful that clients base their satisfaction in large measure on how good the
lines of communication are with their
consultants. They expect frequent contact and timely response when they
have questions or project concerns.
Building strong, lasting relationships.
The consultant might have a tendency to judge each project on its specific technical merits. But its equally
important to approach each project
as a building block in a profitable
and mutually beneficial relationship
with a client that will yield a steady
stream of good projects.
Developing into a consultant is an

ith help from a local area fire protection engineer and a professor from the
mechanical engineering department, the students at the University of Texas at
Austin (UT) formed a student chapter of the Society of Fire Protection Engineers
(SFPE). Student chapters provide great opportunities for engineering students to learn
about the profession and to network with fire protection professionals.

Historically, the Central Texas area has an active and large fire protection engineering professional community. Since 1993, the Mechanical Engineering Department has conducted
research on various aspects of fire and combustion and they are working on developing a
graduate program in fire protection engineering at UT. In addition, there are SFPE chapters
in the Dallas-Fort Worth and Austin-San Antonio areas. So having an SFPE student chapter
at UT was a natural fit.
The UT-SFPE chapter typically meets eight times a year. Each meeting features a speaker
who presents information about topics related to fire protection engineering. The chapter
also held field trips to the Southwest Research Institute for a demonstration on fire testing
and a tour of the newest terminal at Dallas Fort Worth International Airport. The students
also had the opportunity to witness live fire training at the Austin Fire Department Training
Center. These types of activities have given the students opportunities to see the broader
context of fire protection engineering, said Dr. Ofodike (DK) Ezekoye, a professor in the
mechanical engineering department at the University of Texas. In the future, we hope to
add to the educational opportunities in fire protection engineering in the southwest.

ongoing process. It does not compromise


or minimize an engineers technical
skills. Quite the contrary, an excellent
engineer who develops consulting skills
is not only more valuable to the firm, but
also more indispensable to the client.

Working in a Learning Culture


Another key to developing as a fire
protection engineer/consultant is to not
stop the growth process once on a companys payroll. Personal, professional
and technical development is an ongoing process that must be nurtured in a
learning-friendly environment.
Without a doubt, continuous training for every consultant in the firm is
an expensive proposition. What happens if we train our people, and they
leave the company, is a question often
asked. But, What happens if we dont
train them, and they stay, replies
Martin Reiss, CEO and president of the
RJA Group.

The Key to Long-Term


Satisfaction: Variable
Career Paths
As studies on todays workforce show,
people are less hesitant to leave one job
for another than ever before. So it does
a firm absolutely no good to expend the
energy and resources to develop a fire

20 | Careers in Fire Protection Engineering 2006

protection consultant, only to have


them leave in a year or two.
The best way to retain a key engineer/consultant is to provide them with
the best opportunities to excel at what
they like and are good at doing. In the
beginning, that means affording them
opportunities to participate on a steady
stream of challenging projects. But it
also means recognizing that one size
does not fit all, and one career path
does not meet everyones requirements
for job satisfaction.
For example, an engineer may choose
to progress in a purely technical role or
take advantage of special project assignments around the world. They might
elect to branch out into business development or move into management. As the
fire protection engineering profession
expands geographically, leading companies can also accommodate the choice of
where their engineers want to live.
In the evolving profession of fire protection engineering, professional success
depends upon the ability to attract and
develop the caliber of fire protection
engineer necessary to meet the life safety challenges that are faced today and in
the future. It begins with talented, technically oriented people, but the end
results will be based on how fire protection engineers are developed.
George Toth is with the The RJA Group, Inc.

Industry resources

Tyco Fire & Building


Products
Tara M. Sell
451 North Cannon Avenue
Lansdale, PA 19446
tara.sell@tycofp.com
www.tycofp.com
(215) 362-0700, x0297
Page 15

Schirmer Engineering
Mark Rochholz
Phone Number: 847/272-8340, x223
Fax # 847/272-2365
e-mail Address: mark_rochholz@schirmereng.com

University of Maryland
Paul A. Easterling
Associate Director,
Office of Advanced Engineering Education
University of Maryland
A. James Clark School of Engineering
2123 J. M. Patterson Building
College Park, MD 20742
tel - 301-405-3017
fax - 301-405-3305
e-mail - peaster@umd.edu
web - http://www.oaee.umd.edu
Pages 2627, 29

Address: 707 Lake Cook Road, Suite 200


Deerfield, IL 60015

Stanton Engineering
Services LLC
Thomas Stanton, President
10280 Old Columbia Rd.
Suite 275
Columbia, MD 21046
410-290-9301

Web Site: www.schirmereng.com


Office locations: Atlanta, Austin, Boston, Charlotte, Chicago,
Dallas, Denver, Houston, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami,
New York, Phoenix, Princeton, San Diego, San Francisco,
Temecula, and Washington, D.C.

Page 15

Engineered Protection For Life


Page Inside Front Cover

Protectowire Co.
Andrew Sullivan, President
PO Box 200
Hanover, MA 02339-0200
www.protectowire.com
781-826-3878

SimplexGrinnell
Corporate Support Center
50 Technology Drive
Westminster, MA 01441

Page 19

800-746-7539
www.simplexgrinnell.com
Chris Woodcock
chwoodcock@tycoint.com
Pages 3, 1617
Kathy Notarianni,
Director, Advanced Distance Learning Network
Koffel Associates, Inc.
William Koffel, Jr., President
33 North Ridge Rd.
Ste. 120
Ellicott City, MD 21043
wkoffel@koffel.com
www.koffel.com
410-750-2246

WPI
100 Institute Road
Worcester, MA 01609
508-831-6786
kanfpe@wpi.edu
Pages 810

Page 15
www.FPEmag.com/careers | 21

Balancing

&
SECURITY

SAFETY

BY ALEX L. SZACHNOWICZ, P.E.

in the School

Environment

chools should be safe and secure


places for students, staff and visitors alike. Without a safe, orderly
and conducive learning environment, students cannot learn,
teachers cannot teach and the fundamental mission of the school system has
essentially been thwarted.
In years past, safety in the classroom
was not such a high priority for school
administrators. Schools were thinking
education, not safety, when schools
were built years ago. School administrators know too well that those days have
passed. As everyone struggles to come
to grips with the recent string of highprofile troubling events, school safety
has gathered more attention.

Fire-Related
Challenges in Schools
Today, it is commonly believed that
schools are among the safest types of
buildings with respect to the nations
fire problem. While this is generally
true, a few notable instances show that
this was not always the case. The deadliest school-related incident in United
States history occurred at the New
London Junior-Senior High School in
New London, TX, where a natural gas
explosion killed 294 people in 1937.
Most notably, 92 children and three
adults perished in the 1958 Our Lady of
Angels Grade School fire in Chicago, Il.,
as a result of an intentionally set fire.1
A recently published study indicates
that approximately 7,300 fires occurred
per year in educational properties in the
United States between 1999 and 2001.2

Safety- and Security-related


Challenges in Schools
From July 1, 1998 through June 30,
1999, there were 47 school-associated
violent deaths in the United States.3
News stories like those regarding the
senseless killing of 15 teens in
Columbine weigh heavily on everyones
consciousness.
In the wake of recent high-profile
school tragedies, concerns over school
crime and violence have prompted
many school districts to take various
measures to reduce and prevent violence and breaches of security within

22 | Careers in Fire Protection Engineering 2006

schools. But school administrators are


faced with the challenges posed by fiscal
constraints, high staff turnover and
other competing priorities. A United
States General Accounting Office
Report indicated that approximately 30
percent of all schools are in need of
extensive repairs or replacement.4

Fundamental Tools to Combat


the Safety and Security
Challenge
From the standpoint of maximizing
the security aspects of a facility, the
ideal school building would be located

at the center of a large open field, be


well-removed from any vehicular traffic,
surrounded by an obtrusive fencing system and awash in high-intensity lighting. Additionally, the school would be
built with only one monitored entry
door, no windows, well-compartmentalized interior areas, access-controlled
doors on every interior space, and various other overt active and passive security-related features and systems. While
this type of institutional arrangement
might go a long way toward alleviating
the security-related concerns at a
school, it would certainly call into
question the appropriateness of the
facility with respect to fostering a
conducive, nurturing and inviting
learning environment.
School administrators and designers
cannot select the appropriate countermeasures unless a thorough and comprehensive threat assessment and security audit is undertaken. A focused team
approach to addressing such safety and
security concerns might involve security
consultants, fire protection engineers,
building staff, key community members, law enforcement and the fire
department.
With heightened security concerns
espoused in the news on a daily basis,
school administrators are striving to
increase the level of security within
their facilities without sacrificing life
safety and building function. Having a
single, controlled point through which
access is gained into and out of a school
building would certainly go a long way
toward increasing the security at a facility. This condition would, however, fly
in the face of a fundamental tenant of
fire safety.
The number and placement of exterior doors that a given facility has are
usually decided upon during the buildings design phase. At this stage, the
building designers attempt to gain a
thorough understanding of how the
building will be used by its intended
occupants.
Doors allow people to come in as
well as let people out. In many cases, the
demand for convenience overshadows

concerns for safety. Recognizing the


inherent security-related vulnerabilities
associated with exterior doors, many
school systems have asked fire protection engineers to investigate various
means to protect this perceived weak
spot.

Fire Suppression System


Considerations
Fire and building regulations only
require certain educational buildings to
be protected throughout by an automatic sprinkler system. Fortunately, new or
renovated educational facilities are
increasingly being outfitted with codecompliant automatic fire sprinkler systems. The reason lies with the widely
held belief that properly designed and
installed automatic fire sprinkler systems have proven themselves invaluable
in the role of minimizing life and property loss resulting from fires.

Fire and Security Alarm System


Considerations
Fire alarm systems have long been a
mainstay in educational buildings. The
primary purpose of the detection and
alarm system is to provide an early warning for building occupants to enact their
emergency plans and safely evacuate.
It must be recognized that technologies and equipment are not the answer
to all fire and school security problems.
The issue comes down to applying technologies that are effective, affordable,
useable, maintainable and politically
acceptable.

False Alarms and School


Evacuation Drills
Unfortunately, false alarms and inadvertent activations of fire alarm and
security systems continue to plague
many school districts. Good design,
installation, inspection and maintenance practices can go a long way
toward lessening the potential for such
occurrences. Due to the disruptive and
potentially dangerous nature of such
repeated occurrences, some additional

considerations may be warranted by the


fire protection engineer.
Finally, the spate of highly publicized
terrorist activities, school shootings and
sniper events have given school systems
pause with respect to conducting emergency fire and evacuation drills. While it
may seem understandable to carry
such concerns,
schools should not be
dissuaded from conducting these vital drills. History is
replete with examples where delayed
egress led to tragic consequences.

Solutions
Approximately 48 years ago, it took
the deaths of 92 children and three
adults in the Our Lady of Angels Grade
School fire to raise the national consciousness with respect to the issue of
fire safety in schools.
Fire protection engineers and other
fire safety professionals have developed a
host of tools to help us address the
nations fire problem. As always, solutions often start with recognition. In this
case, it is the recognition that both security-and fire-related emergencies can
have a direct bearing upon the safety
and security of students.
Alex L. Szachnowicz, P.E., is with the Anne
Arundel County, Maryland, Board of
Education.

REFERENCES
1 Von Dietsch, J., Learning from the
Schools, NFPA Journal, National Fire
Protection Association, Quincy, MA,
September/October 1997, p. 104.
2 Rohr, K., Structure Fires in Educational
Properties, National Fire Protection
Association, Quincy, MA, November
2004, pp. 1-35.
3 Indicators of School Crime and Safety
(2001) Executive Summary, National
Council for Educational Statistics, U.S.
Department of Education, 2002.
4 School Facilities: Americas Schools Not
Designed or Equipped for 21st Century,
United States General Accounting Office,
April 1995.

www.FPEmag.com/careers | 23

may have called an FPE for several reasons: the magnitude of the loss; that the
property was equipped with sprinkler
or fire detection systems; the potential
opposition has hired an FPE; or the
client recognizes the need for analysis
beyond basic cause and origin.

The Scene

INVESTIGATION

AND THE FIRE ENGINEER

Interviewing Witnesses
What they didnt teach you in engineering school.

BY ROBERT A. SCHROEDER, PH.D.


ire Protection Engineers (FPEs)
are, with increased frequency,
included in the investigation of
fires. The role of the FPE in fire
investigation has evolved from an
examiner of fire protection-related systems and life safety code analysis to
include serving as a principal investigator. This article reviews the role of an
FPE in regard to the analysis of a fire
scene, fire scene management methods,

Once the local fire authorities have


completed their site investigation and
have turned control of the scene back to
the property owner, the FPE must take
preliminary steps before the dig begins.
Regardless of the condition of the scene,
after the local fire officials have completed their on-site activities, the scene
must be treated as if it were undisturbed and sterile. The condition of the
scene at this juncture must be documented. Artifacts examined, opened
and/or removed during the local fire
officials site analysis need to be photographed in situ and those who altered
or moved them must tell of their location and condition when they were
found. This effort will give insight into
how the local fire officials examination
was conducted. The FPE should
research the construction features of the
building and locations of its contents
before the first shovel is turned.
The technical reason for delaying the
destructive examination of the scene lies
in the understanding of the scene prior
to the fire. This knowledge can only be
gained from interviews with those persons knowledgeable about the site and
the fire area. Construction plans and
details, prefire photographs and actual
fire footage are also valuable sources.

the needs of all parties participating in


the investigation and the effect of recent
court rulings that directly impact the
FPEs ability to testify as an expert.

The Investigation
An FPEs job begins when he or she is
contacted by an insurance adjuster or an
attorney and is hired to undertake or
participate in the investigation and
analysis of a fire loss. The hiring party

24 | Careers in Fire Protection Engineering 2006

More often than not, witnesses determine the life and death of a fire investigation. The sooner the key witnesses are
interviewed, the more likely the information received will be reliable. A person who has just lost a business, a home
orworse yeta loved one, is in no
frame of mind to be interviewed. Being
overly assertive in trying to get all of
this needed-now information because
an investigation is underway will not be
well received.

The Gathering of the Clan


After written notices to interested
parties have been delivered and the
managing FPE has performed a site
safety assessment, the processing of the
scene begins. The site safety assessment
includes: identification of physical hazards, such as unstable walls and roofs;
the distribution of loads and, in particular, loads in the fire-affected areas; biohazards; the potential energy and electrical hazards; the recommended or
required protective equipment; as well
as an analysis of the environment.
A number of steps should be taken
once the group of interested parties has
assembled. A briefing and group discussion should be held. Preferably, the
briefing will include public information
about the fire, witness information
if it helps identify the area of origin, fire
alarm data (including report printouts),
copies of accurate floor plans and generally any nonprejudicial information
which will assist in the group investigation. The FPE should prearrange for
first-in firefighters to provide a group
briefing and walk-through.

Reports
The premature preparation of
reports, which declare or suggest the
opinions of an FPE or others in the
team, can be detrimental. All documents prepared by an FPE will be disclosed to the opposing parties if the
matter is litigated. The FPE will have to
answer for each opinion and its basis.
The volley of questions from opposing council in a deposition or worse, at

trial can be avoided by not prematurely


preparing opinionated reports. Clients
will often require status reports on the
state of the investigation. Simply providing information detailing the process and
what was observed, without expressing
opinions, may fulfill this requirement.

Reports Disclosing
the FPEs Opinions
Discovery is the process by which
information regarding all aspects of the
litigation is developed. This includes the
posing of questions, document production, depositions and expert reports.
When discovery is completed and an
FPE has been identified as a testifying
expert, when all of the fact witnesses
have been deposed, when the attorneys
have conducted their information-gathering investigation throughout the discovery process, when the recovered artifacts have been examined and the expert
disclosure deadline looms, it can only
mean one thing: expert report time.
Once again, an FPE should keep close
contact with the responsible attorney to
determine what, if any, formal report
prepared by the FPE will be required,
and, if one is required what needs to be
included in it. The expert should not
expect counsel to be familiar with the
nuances of the fire safety engineering
language. However, the experts engaged
by the opposing side will be.

Expert Reports
and the Federal Courts
Within the last decade, the U.S.
Supreme Court has gone to great
lengths to clarify and promulgate rules
regarding the admissibility of scientificbased expert testimony. Tomes have
been written on the cause and effect of
the courts position. According to Rule
702, U.S. Federal Rules of Evidence:
If scientific, technical, or other specialized knowledge will assist the trier of
fact to understand the evidence or to
determine a fact in issue, a witness qualified as an expert by knowledge, skill,
experience, training or education may
testify thereto in the form of an opinion
or otherwise, if (1) the testimony is
based upon sufficient facts or data, (2)

the testimony is the product of reliable


principles and methods and (3) the witness has applied the principles and
methods reliably to the facts of the case
(Federal, 2000).
This component of Rule 702 is
known as Daubert and from it came
the Daubert Tests or Factors. Simply
stated, they are as follows:
1. Has the theory or technique been
tested?
2. What is the rate of error or reliability of the theory or technique?
3. Has the theory or technique been subjected to peer review and publication?
4. Does the theory or technique enjoy
general acceptance within the scientific community?
These factors are applied in U.S.
Federal Court and in many state courts
as well. Theories or opinions held by an
FPE will be subjected to the Daubert
tests in these courts; in states that have
not adapted the Daubert standard, the
expert disclosure and qualifying
requirements may be less stringent.
However, opposing council will likely
use Daubert as an examination tool in
attempts to discredit witnesses during
cross-examination.
The second wave of challenge
becomes personal for the FPE. He or she
will be evaluated on knowledge, skill,
experience, training and education.
Opposing counsel will conduct an
examination and attack on an FPEs
background and ability to render the
opinions that have been presented. Does
this person have formal training with
the information used to support the
opinions? Does he or she possess the
experience to adequately qualify them in
this particular area? Is the FPE simply
parroting the words of the attorney or
client for whom he or she is working?
Was this supposed expertise gained
through a nontested short course or
seminar? Has the FPE ever conducted
any research or performed the actions
being considered? If the inquisitor finds
that the FPE has overstated his or her
qualifications, experience or understanding of the supporting basis of their
opinions, results can be humiliating or
even disastrous.
Robert Schroeder is with Schroeder Fire.

www.FPEmag.com/careers | 25

FIRE INVESTIGATOR

The second reason for waiting before


initiating the scene dig out is spoliation. In fire scene vernacular, spoliation means knowingly destroying or
changing the scene (or suspect objects)
without providing other interested
parties, such as potential defendants or
plaintiffs in a legal action borne from
the fire, an opportunity to also see it in
an unmolested state. Spoliation, including the digging out of a fire scene without giving the potential interested parties an opportunity to participate in its
processing, has resulted in dismissal of
subrogation lawsuits.

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FPE Research Activities


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flammability of materials
fire detection

Education Objective
In order to fulfill the missions of the Department of Fire
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Letter from the engineering program manager

Now Is the Time to Get


on the Path Towards Licensure
Chris Jelenewicz, P.E.
Engineering Program
Manager, Society of Fire
Protection Engineers

raduating with a degree in


fire protection engineering
opens the doors to limitless
opportunities. For example, a career in
fire protection engineering pays well,
provides opportunities for world travel,
and offers the chance to work in a variety of environments. Additionally,
because the number of jobs available
consistently outweighs the number of
engineers available to fill them, fire protection engineers rarely find it difficult
to find employment. As a result, fire
protection engineers are among the
highest-paid engineers.
Becoming a fire protection engineer
also provides an opportunity to become
a licensed professional engineer (P.E.).
As with many engineering disciplines,
engineering licensure is the mark that
demonstrates a commitment to high
standards that is recognized by all
design professionals.
In the United States, the engineering
profession is regulated by licensing
boards in each state and territory. These
boards set high standards for professional engineers to protect the public.
The licensing of engineers is important because of the essential role engineering has in society. Normally, structures and systems that impact the publics safety are required to be designed
by licensed engineers. For example,
bridges, roads, electrical systems, drinking water systems and building struc-

tures are all required by law to be


designed by licensed engineers.
The profession of fire protection
engineering is not different. The work
performed by fire protection engineers,
including the design of fire protection
systems, plays a significant role in protecting the health, safety and welfare of
the public. These systems alert children
to danger when fires occur at schools
and control fires that start in high-rise
apartment buildings.
Although the requirements for licensure may differ between states, generally, becoming a licensed fire protection
engineer is a four-step process:
1. Graduation from an accredited
college engineering program
2. Passing the Fundamentals of
Engineering Exam (FE)
3. Four years of work experience
4. Passing the Fire Protection P.E.
Exam
The first step is to graduate from a
college or university with an accredited
engineering degree. For more information about accreditation, visit the
Accreditation Board for Engineering
and Technology (ABET) Web site at
www.abet.org.
Although it is usually considered the
second step in the process, the best time
to take the FE exam is before graduation. According to the National Council
for Examiners for Engineering and
Surveying (NCEES), pass rates are significantly higher when a person takes
this exam before or shortly after graduation. The FE exam is an eight-hour
multiple-choice examination and is a
test of general engineering knowledge.

28 | Careers in Fire Protection Engineering 2006

It is administered by each state in


October and April of each year. For
more information about this exam,
visit www.engineeringlicense.com.
After passing the FE exam, the graduate engineer is considered an
Engineering Intern. To become licensed,
most states require the Engineering
Intern to obtain four years of engineering experience. Once the required
amount of experience is obtained, the
Engineering Intern is permitted to take
the P.E. exam.
The fire protection engineering P.E.
exam is given each year in October. This
is an eight-hour multiple-choice examination. Topics on this exam include fire
dynamics, human behavior in fire, fire
protection systems design, and building
construction. Once a person passes this
exam, they have completed the process.
As a fire protection engineer, obtaining a P.E. license offers many opportunities for career advancement. For
example, licensure increases the opportunities for promotions and higher
salaries. But more importantly, an engineer must be licensed to offer his or her
services to the public.
So once the decision is made to
become a fire protection engineer, the
next logical step is to get on the path
towards engineering licensure. Because
of all of the great benefits of becoming
a licensed fire protection engineer, this
could be one of the best decisions a person can make.

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Special

Thanks

to the Sponsors who


made this guide possible: